WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hear the nomination of Charleston attorney Stephanie Thacker for an opening on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 3 p.m. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., will preside. In addition to Thacker's nomination, the committee will hear the nominations of four people to become District judges across the country.
Last month, President Obama officially nominated Charleston attorney Stephanie Thacker to fill an opening on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Stephanie Dawn Thacker has displayed exceptional dedication to the legal profession through her work and I am honored to nominate her to serve the American people as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals," Obama said of his nomination. "She will be a diligent, judicious and esteemed addition to the Fourth Circuit bench."
The West Virginia Record first reported the impending nomination in July.
A law professor who follows judicial nominations expects little problem for Thacker.
"Thacker looks like a well qualified, uncontroversial nominee who has strong support from the two home state senators, so she should win easy approval," said Carl Tobias, the Williams Professor at the University of Richmond College of Law. "One possible problem is timing, as the Senate will stop processing nominees next year as the election approaches.
"The Senate has been so slow in moving appointing court nominees that she may have a problem being confirmed before the process stops. I expect that the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote favorably on her in the next month, and then the question will be whether she can secure a floor vote."
Thacker, who grew up in Hamlin, currently is a partner at the law firm of Guthrie & Thomas in Charleston, where she specializes in complex litigation, environmental and toxic tort litigation, and criminal defense. She also teaches as an adjunct professor at the West Virginia University School of Law.
If approved, Thacker would replace Judge M. Blane Michael, who died earlier this year.
"The White House has made an excellent choice in nominating Ms. Thacker and I am sure that she will be a fair and thoughtful federal judge," U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. said of Thacker. "It was with a heavy heart that I looked for a worthy candidate to recommend for the position that my dearest friend, Blane Michael, held for so many years.
"I was honored to recommend Ms. Thacker for the job. She possesses the types of qualities that should make all West Virginians proud - unquestioned integrity, a superior legal mind and experience, and a profound understanding of the real impact that judicial decisions have on people's lives - and it is my hope that she will be confirmed soon by the Senate. I would be truly honored to have her serve on the bench."
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., agreed.
"I am so proud that one of West Virginia's own, Stephanie D. Thacker, has been nominated to serve as the United States Circuit Court Judge for the Fourth Circuit," Manchin said. "Stephanie Thacker has already had a distinguished law career in both the public and private sectors, and I have no doubt she will succeed in on the Fourth Circuit Court. Her nomination is an honor, and I hope my Senate colleagues will confirm her without delay."
After graduating law school, Thacker spent two years in the Pittsburgh office of the law firm of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart. In 1992, after working briefly in the West Virginia Attorney General's office, Thacker joined the law firm of King, Betts & Allen, which now is Guthrie & Thomas.
She rejoined the firm in 2006 after having served as a federal prosecutor for 12 years both in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia and in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
During her tenure with the United States Attorney's Office, Thacker was part of the trial team that prosecuted the first case in the country brought under the Violence Against Women Act -- United States v. Bailey. She tried numerous other cases, including money laundering, fraud, firearms, and tax evasion matters. She also coordinated a number of prosecution initiatives directed to combating domestic violence, criminal non-payment of child support and federal coal mine safety violations.
During her time with the Department of Justice, Thacker tried cases in multiple jurisdictions, spearheaded several nationwide initiatives, and conducted training on prosecution and trial techniques around the country and around the world. As a result, she was ultimately charged with managing the entire litigation and training work load for the Child Exploitation Section of the Department of Justice.
Thacker has received numerous awards for her work, including the Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award, one of the highest given within the Department, for her role in the prosecution and trial of Dwight York, the leader of a worldwide pseudo-religious organization who molested countless children.
Thacker's practice concentrates on complex litigation, including toxic tort, and criminal defense.
She received her bachelor's degree from Marshall University in 1987, and her law degree from West Virginia University's College of Law in 1990.