Senate committee OKs Shelly Dick nomination to U.S. District Court

Federal district court judge nominee Shelly D. Dick, of Baton Rouge, could receive final U.S. Senate confirmation as soon as late March after being successfully voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Dick was approved by a voice vote without any discussion. The vote was delayed by two weeks when she was held over as a late addition to the agenda at the Senate committee’s last meeting.

“I’m excited,” Dick said Thursday during a phone interview from her Baton Rouge office. “I’m looking forward to the full Senate vote.

“I think that the Middle District needs that third judge, and I think the citizens really deserve someone to get in and go to work,” she added.

Dick was nominated by President Barack Obama in April to become the first female U.S. district judge in the Middle District of Louisiana, based in Baton Rouge. She was blocked initially by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who said he was holding out hope that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney would defeat Obama. After Obama won re-election in November, Vitter 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.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who follows the federal judiciary, said it is a “very good sign” that Dick won a quick affirmative vote on Thursday.

“It went well,” Tobias said. “There was no debate. There was no anything.”

“When nobody talks, it’s always a good sign and there are no dissenting votes,” he said.

While there is a backlog of less than 100 federal nominees nationally, Tobias said the process is moving along and that Dick could receive full confirmation as early as late March or as late as May. “I think the spring for sure,” Tobias said.

In a prepared statement, Landrieu asked the Senate for a quick confirmation process.

“Shelly brings decades of litigation experience, an impressive record of service work, a thorough understanding of federal law and a wonderful attitude,” Landrieu said. “She is highly respected within the judicial community, and I have the utmost confidence that she will serve Louisiana well as a fair and knowledgeable judge.”

Dick 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 lawyer in civil litigation in federal court. And she has represented both government and non-government clients in matters of federal employment law.