Jane Branstetter Stranch

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Jane Branstetter Stranch
Jane Stranch.jpg
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Assumed office
September 15, 2010
Appointed byBarack Obama
Preceded byMartha Craig Daughtrey
Personal details
Kathy Jane Branstetter

(1953-09-17) September 17, 1953 (age 65)
Nashville, Tennessee
EducationUniversity of Virginia
University of Tennessee
Vanderbilt University (B.A.)
Vanderbilt University Law School (J.D.)

Jane Branstetter Stranch (born September 17, 1953) is a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Early life and education[edit]

Born Kathy Jane Branstetter[1] in Nashville, Tennessee, Stranch first attended the University of Virginia from 1971 to 1972 and then the University of Tennessee from 1972 to 1973 and earned no degree. In 1973, Stranch enrolled at Vanderbilt University earning a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, in 1975.[2] She then earned a Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1978,[2] where she was elected to the Order of the Coif.[3][4]

Professional career[edit]

Stranch started her professional career at the law firm of Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC as a law clerk working summers and part-time 1975 through the summer of 1978.[2] Following the bar exam, Stranch was promoted to an associate in 1978 and became a partner in 1994.[1] From 1981 through 1983 Stranch, taught a general introductory course in labor law at Belmont University.[5] Early in her career Stranch practiced law in both the state and federal courts with a focus in labor employment, Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), personal injury, worker's compensation, wrongful death, and utility law.[1][2][6] During the latter part of the 1990s, Stranch's practice was mainly complex litigation and class action work throughout the United States. Many of her cases involved representation of plan participants who had lost their individual account pensions due to fiduciary breaches, often concurrent with corporate scandals.[1] Stranch litigated approximately 85% of her cases before the federal courts and 15% in state courts and other administrative agencies. The vast majority (95%) were in civil proceedings.[1][4]

Federal judicial service[edit]

On August 6, 2009, President Barack Obama announced that he had nominated Stranch to a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, to the seat vacated when Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey assumed senior status on January 1, 2009. Stranch was one of several candidates whom NashvillePost.com had reported in April 2009 was being considered for the seat, along with United States District Judge William Joseph Haynes, Jr., United States District Judge Bernice B. Donald, Nashville criminal defense attorney David Raybin and Vanderbilt University Law School Professor Lisa Schultz Bressman.[7] In addition, in the February 8, 2009 Nashville Tennessean, Stranch was interviewed by the newspaper about her interest in the vacancy, and she told The Tennessean that "I think there's value in a judge having a great deal of federal experience, but also one who's litigated. I would hope to bring to the bench a fair temperament but also an understanding of what it means to be a litigator in the courts."[6] After a more than one-year wait, the United States Senate voted on September 13, 2010 with a vote of 71 to 21 in favor of Stranch, who has waited longer than any other Obama nominee for a confirmation from the Senate.[8][9] She received her commission on September 15, 2010.[4]

Notable opinions[edit]

In United States v. Edward L. Young, the Sixth Circuit considered whether a mandatory 15-year sentence, as required under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) constituted cruel and unusual punishment for a convicted felon who possessed seven shotgun shells. Young's prior felony offenses, for burglary, had occurred roughly twenty years before he was found with the shells. On September 11, 2014, a three-judge panel, including Judge Stranch, upheld the sentence.[10] But Judge Stranch wrote a concurrence to express her view on mandatory minimum sentencing: "I therefore join the continuous flood of voices expressing concern that the ACCA and other mandatory minimum laws are ineffective in achieving their purpose and damaging to our federal criminal justice system and our nation. I commend this case as another example of the need to reconsider the ACCA and mandatory sentencing in general."[11]


Stranch's husband, James G. Stranch III, is a Nashville attorney who is a partner in the law firm of Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings.[12] They have four children, two of whom also practice at the firm.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees" (PDF). United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary. United States Senate. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d ":: Branstetter Stranch & Jennings - JANE BRANSTETTER STRANCH". 5 January 2010. Archived from the original on 5 January 2010.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. ^ Jane Stranch '78 to take seat on U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Vanderbilt University Law School News (September 13, 2010).
  4. ^ a b c "Stranch, Jane Branstetter - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov.
  5. ^ President Obama Nominates Jane Stranch for United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Judge Thomas Vanaskie for United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, whitehouse.gov (August 7, 2009).
  6. ^ a b Howard, Kate (February 8, 2009). "Obama keeps two Department of Justice appointees selected by Bush". Nashville Tennessean. p. ONLINE edition.
  7. ^ Whitehouse, Ken (April 1, 2009). "Birch being pushed for TVA". NashvillePost.com. Retrieved September 29, 2009.
  8. ^ U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress - 2nd Session, Vote Number 230: Confirmation Jane Branstetter Stranch, senate.gov (September 13, 2010).
  9. ^ Martha Neil (September 13, 2010). "After 1-Year Wait, Judge Jane Stranch Is Confirmed by Senate for 6th Circuit Seat". ABAJournal.com. American Bar Association. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
  10. ^ Douglas Berman (September 11, 2014). "Sixth Circuit panel finds mandatory 15-year imprisonment term not grossly disproportionate for possession of shotgun shells". Sentencing Law & Policy. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "James G. Stranch III - Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC - Nashville". Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Martha Craig Daughtrey
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit