Paul J. Watford

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Paul Watford
Judge Paul J. Watford.jpg
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Assumed office
May 22, 2012
Appointed by Barack Obama
Preceded by Pamela Rymer
Personal details
Born 1967 (age 46–47)
Garden Grove, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles

Paul Jeffrey Watford (born 1967) is a United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Watford was born and raised in Orange County, California. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1989 from the University of California, Berkeley and in 1994 he received a Juris Doctor from the UCLA School of Law, where he graduated Order of the Coif. Watford also served as an editor of the UCLA Law Review.

In 1994 he served as a law clerk to Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit and from 1995 to 1996 he clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1996 he joined the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson. In 1997 Watford became an Assistant United States Attorney in the Major Frauds Section of the Criminal Division of the Central District of California, where he prosecuted a wide range of federal criminal cases, including white-collar criminal cases. In 2000 he joined the Los Angeles law firm Sidley Austin but he returned to Munger in 2001, where he became partner in 2003. At Munger, where he worked until his confirmation, he focused on appellate litigation, appearing regularly in state and federal courts to argue his cases. He has authored or edited nearly twenty briefs prepared for the Supreme Court.

In addition to working at Munger, Watford is an active member of the American Bar Association, having served as Co-Chair of the ABA Litigation Section's Appellate Practice Committee from 2005 to 2008 and as a member of the ABA's Amicus Curiae Committee from 2007 to 2010. He also served as a lecturer in law from 2007 to 2009 at the University of Southern California's Gould School of Law, where he taught an upper-level course in judicial opinion writing.[2][3] As of June 2012, he also serves as treasurer and board member of Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, a nonprofit that provides pro bono legal services to the poor.[4]

Court of Appeals[edit]

On October 17, 2011, President Obama nominated Watford to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[2] The seat had been vacated by Judge Pamela Ann Rymer, who had occupied it from May 22, 1989 until she died of cancer on September 21, 2011.[5] The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Watford's nomination on December 13, 2011.[6]

On February 2, 2012, the Judiciary Committee reported Watford's nomination to the floor of the Senate by a vote of ten ayes to six nays.[7] On May 17, 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a cloture motion on Watford's nomination, seeking to end debate on the nomination. The vote on the cloture motion had been scheduled for May 21, 2012. However, on May 21, Reid asked that the cloture motion be nullified, and that the Senate move to a straight, up-or-down vote on Watford's nomination, which was scheduled for later that day.[8]

The Senate confirmed Judge Watford on May 21, 2012 in a 61–34 vote; he received his commission on May 22, 2012.[8][9]

In late 2012, multiple national news organizations mentioned Watford as a possible nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States during Barack Obama's second term.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Carol J. Williams (October 18, 2011). "Obama nominates L.A. lawyer to 9th Circuit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b The White House: Office of the Press Secretary (October 17, 2011). "President Obama Nominates Paul J. Watford to Serve on the United States Court of Appeals". Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Paul J. Watford". Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "NLSLA: About Us - Our Mission". Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Dennis McLellan (September 24, 2011). "Pamela Ann Rymer dies at 70; judge on U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  6. ^ United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary (December 13, 2011). "Webcast of December 13, 2011 Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the Nomination of Paul J. Watford, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit". United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  7. ^ Bob Egelko (February 3, 2012). "9th Circuit Court nomination hits GOP snag". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  8. ^ Biographical Directory of Federal Judges
  9. ^ "Supreme Court possibilities if Obama is reelected -". CNN. October 1, 2012. 
  10. ^ The Wall Street Journal |url= missing title (help). 
Legal offices
Preceded by
Pamela Rymer
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit