David B. Sentelle

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David B. Sentelle
David B. Sentelle Circuit Judge.jpg
Presiding Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review
Assumed office
May 19, 2020
Appointed byJohn Roberts
Preceded byJosé A. Cabranes
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Assumed office
February 12, 2013
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
In office
February 11, 2008 – February 12, 2013
Preceded byDouglas H. Ginsburg
Succeeded byMerrick Garland
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
In office
September 11, 1987 – February 12, 2013
Appointed byRonald Reagan
Preceded byAntonin Scalia
Succeeded byRobert L. Wilkins
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
In office
October 17, 1985 – October 19, 1987
Appointed byRonald Reagan
Preceded byWoodrow W. Jones
Succeeded byRichard Lesley Voorhees
Personal details
Born
David Bryan Sentelle

(1943-02-12) February 12, 1943 (age 78)
Canton, North Carolina
EducationUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (BA)
University of North Carolina School of Law (JD)

David Bryan Sentelle (born February 12, 1943) is a Senior United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Education and career[edit]

Born in Canton, North Carolina, the son of a mill worker, Sentelle grew up in Candler, North Carolina. Sentelle graduated from Enka High School in 1961, where he was a classmate of Thomas A. Furness III, who is the "Grandfather of Virtual Reality." Sentelle received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1965. He received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1968.

Following law school, Sentelle practiced law as an associate attorney with the firm Uzzell & Dumont in Asheville, North Carolina from 1968 to 1970.[1] He was an Assistant United States Attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina from 1970 to 1974.

Sentelle served as a North Carolina District Court Judge in Mecklenburg Country from 1974 to 1977.[2] He stepped down from the bench in 1977 to become a partner with the law firm of Tucker, Hicks, Sentelle, Moon & Hodge in Charlotte until his appointment to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina in 1985.[3]

In addition to his practice and judicial service, Sentelle has held several teaching positions. He was a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1977. He was a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1991 to 1992.[2] In 1993, he taught as an adjunct professor at Florida State University College of Law.[4] Sentelle was an Adjunct Professor at the George Mason School of Law from 2002 to 2009.[4]

Sentelle is also a founding member and was the longtime president of the Edward Bennett Williams Inn of the American Inns of Court, one of D.C.'s most prestigious associations of white-collar prosecutors and defense attorneys. He won the 2008 American Inns of Court professionalism award in recognition of his service to the Inn.

Federal judicial service[edit]

With support from Senator Jesse Helms, Sentelle was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on July 25, 1985, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina vacated by Judge Woodrow W. Jones. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 16, 1985, and received his commission on October 17, 1985. His service was terminated on October 19, 1987, due to elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.[2]

Sentelle was nominated by President Reagan on February 2, 1987, to the seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit previously held by Antonin Scalia before Scalia's elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sentelle was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 87 to 0 on September 9, 1987; received his commission on September 11, 1987; and entered into service on October 19, 1987. He served as Chief Judge from 2008 to 2013.[2] He took senior status on February 12, 2013.[5] During his time on the D.C. Circuit, Sentelle served with four future Supreme Court justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, and Brett Kavanaugh. In addition, many of his law clerks went on to clerk for Supreme Court justices, earning Sentelle a reputation as a "feeder judge."

From 1992 to 2006, Sentelle served as the presiding judge of the Division of the D.C. Circuit for the Appointment of Independent Counsel. During his tenure, the division appointed Kenneth Starr to replace Robert B. Fiske who had been appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate the allegations against President Bill Clinton with respect to the Whitewater Affair.

Sentelle was appointed to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR) on May 19, 2018, and became the presiding judge of that court on May 20, 2020.[6]

In addition to his work on the D.C. Circuit and the FISCR, Sentelle served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference from 2008 to 2013, and as the chair of that committee from 2010 to 2013.

Several of Sentelle's former law clerks have gone onto become judges themselves. Neil Gorsuch (1991-1992) serves as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Joan Larsen (1993-1994, 6th Cir.), Allison Jones Rushing (2008-2009, 4th Cir.), and Andrew Oldham (2005-2006, 5th Cir.) currently serve on the federal appellate bench. (President Trump considered nominating both Larsen and Rushing for the Supreme Court seat currently occupied by Justice Amy Coney Barrett.) Liam Hardy (2010-2011) is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Steven Seeger (1997-1998, N.D. Ill.), Richard Myers (1998-1999, E.D.N.C.), and Frank Whitney (1988-1989, W.D.N.C.) currently serve as U.S. District Judges. Beth Robinson (1989-1990) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Vermont. Adam Conrad (2005-2006) serves on the North Carolina Business Court. David E. Jones (1991-1992) formerly served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Other Sentelle clerks have gone on to serve as executive branch officials. Kristen Silverberg (1998-1999) served as the ambassador to the E.U. Maureen Ohlhausen (1994-1995) served as a member and acting chair of the Federal Trade Commission.

Notable cases[edit]

While on the D.C. Circuit, Sentelle was part of two three-judge panels that overturned the convictions of Oliver North and John Poindexter. On the North panel, Sentelle and Judge Laurence Silberman voted to overturn North's conviction while Chief Judge Patricia Wald dissented.[7] On the Poindexter panel, Sentelle and Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg voted to overturn the conviction with Judge Abner J. Mikva dissenting.[8]

In Cobell v. Norton, 240 F.3d 1081 (D.C. Cir. 2001), Sentelle (joined by Judges Stephen Williams and Judith Rogers) largely affirmed the District Court's finding that the federal government had mismanaged Indian trust funds. The government ultimately settled the case—one of the largest class actions in history—in 2009. [9]

In 2007, in Boumediene v. Bush, 375 U.S. App. D.C. 48, Sentelle concurred with Judge Arthur Raymond Randolph, relying on Johnson v. Eisentrager to uphold the Military Commissions Act of 2006's suspension of habeas corpus for enemy combatants as constitutional. Judge Rogers dissented. That decision was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2004, New York Times reporter Judith Miller refused to comply with a grand jury subpoena seeking documents and testimony about her conversations with a confidential source. Because of her noncompliance, the District Court held Miller in civil contempt and she spent 85 days in jail. In In re Grand Jury Subpoena, Judith Miller, 397 F.3d 964 (D.C. Cir. 2005), Sentelle (joined by Judges Karen Henderson and David Tatel) affirmed Miller's conviction, though the three judges disagreed about the existence and scope of a reporter's common-law privilege to resist grand jury subpoenas. [10]

In National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, Sentelle (with Judges Henderson and Thomas Griffith) held that President Obama's extensive use of recess appointments violated the Constitution, clarifying the President's limited Article II authority to fill judicial and executive appointments during inter-session recesses. [11] The Supreme Court unanimously affirmed, though a majority of justices declined to adopt Sentelle's precise constitutional rationale. [12]

Personal[edit]

Sentelle served as a delegate to the 1984 Republican National Convention. He previously published several works of crime fiction under the pseudonym Clyde Haywood.

Publications[edit]

  • Sentelle, David B. (2002). Judge Dave and the Rainbow People. Green Bag Press, Washington D.C. ISBN 0-9677568-3-9

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
1985–1987
Succeeded by
Preceded by Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
1987–2013
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
2008–2013
Succeeded by
Preceded by Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review
2018–present
Incumbent