Judge nominee to get vote

Federal district judge nominee Shelly D. Dick, of Baton Rouge, could receive a congressional committee vote Thursday to send her name to the U.S. Senate floor for confirmation, although legal experts contend that vote is more likely to occur at the end of February.

Dick was one of three nominees nationwide added early Tuesday to the agenda of 17 total nominees for Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee executive meeting.

But Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who follows the federal judiciary, cautioned that recent history shows nominees who are new additions will be delayed temporarily by Republican members to allow additional time for review.

Tobias said it is more likely Dick will receive a committee vote at the next committee meeting, on Feb. 28, and that she could receive full Senate confirmation in April or May. Dick received her initial Senate committee hearing in December.

“There are a whole lot of people (other nominees) ahead of her,” Tobias said. “I don’t think it’s her. I think she’ll go through easily.”

Dick has bipartisan support from Louisiana’s Sens. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, and David Vitter, a Republican.

Dick was nominated by President Barack Obama in April to become the first female judge in the federal Middle District of Louisiana, based in Baton Rouge, but she was initially blocked by Vitter, who was holding out hope that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney would defeat Obama. After Obama won re-election last month, Vitter quickly withdrew his block and said he backed Dick receiving a fast-tracked confirmation process.

Dick would replace former Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph E. Tyson, who died in 2011.

Landrieu said in a prepared statement Tuesday that she would like to see the Judiciary Committee act quickly.

“Shelly Dick is exceptionally qualified to serve the Middle District of Louisiana, bringing an impressive record of litigation experience and a thorough understanding of federal law,” Landrieu stated. “She is one of the most well-respected figures in Louisiana’s judicial community, and I was proud to recommend her. I urge my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee to report her out of committee quickly so her nomination can be considered by the full Senate.”

Dick said Tuesday that she is confident her eventual confirmation is moving forward in the right direction.

She was a late addition to the agenda because she did not submit her final answers to questions submitted by new senators until Monday, Dick said. The additional questions came from Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., she said.

“Life got in my way,” Dick said about getting the paperwork in at the last minute.

Dick, 52, is a native of El Paso, Texas, who moved to Baton Rouge when she started LSU Law School in 1985.

She is a founding partner in Forrester & Dick, a Baton Rouge law firm specializing in litigation. She was one of three possible nominees recommended to Obama by Landrieu. Dick was the only federal judge nominee stalled out of five nominations Obama made at the same time in April.

Dick is a veteran defense attorney in civil litigation in federal court. And she has represented both government and nongovernment clients in matters of federal employment law.