Questioning of Judicial Nominee Does Not Go Well

Cheryl Sanders
December 16, 2017

"State or federal court?"

"I have not", answered Petersen.

How many depositions had he taken - fewer than five?

"In my current position", Petersen stuttered, "I obviously don't need to stay as invested in those on a day-to-day basis, but I do try to keep up to speed".

Sen. Kennedy: Less than ten?

And, with that, Kennedy's five minutes of questioning were up.

PETERSEN: (Pauses) Probably somewhere in that range.

Sen. Kennedy: Have you ever taken a deposition by yourself?

Like Brett Talley-the ghostbuster who espoused revisionist Ku Klux Klan history on internet messageboards, didn't disclose that he was married to a Trump aide, and eventually withdrew from his judicial nomination-Petersen has never tried a case.

Sen. Kennedy: Have you ever argued a motion in federal court? According to, that motion is made "at the start of a trial requesting that the judge rule that certain evidence may not be introduced in trial".

Anthony Michael Kreis, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, said it was unreasonable to expect Petersen to have recently studied the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a lengthy and complex document. "Civil? Criminal? Bench? State or federal court?" asked Sen. When's the last time you read the Federal Rules of Evidence? Would, well, comprehensively, would have been in law school.

Definition: Standard used by a trial judge to make a preliminary assessment of whether an expert's scientific testimony is based on reasoning or methodology that is scientifically valid and can properly be applied to the facts at issue.

He asked him whether he knew what the "Daubert standard is". That is not something I've had to contend with.

Petersen was unable to explain, for example, what a "motion in limine" was.

Petersen: "Yes. I haven't, I'm, again, my background is not in litigation as when I was replying to Chairman (Chuck) Grassley (R-Iowa), I haven't had to um, again, do a deep dive". That does not bode well for the nominee, Matthew Peterson, whom the president wants to put on the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. I understand that the path that many successful District Court Judges have taken has been a different one than I've taken.

President Trump has already taken heat for nominating a ghost hunting fledgling lawyer who had never tried a case and was deemed unqualified by the American Bar Association for a federal judgeship.

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