Three nominated for federal judgeships in Texas

By Marilyn Tennissen | Jun 30, 2014

Three Texas men have been named to fill judicial vacancies in the federal courts of the Lone Star State.

President Barack Obama on June 26 announced the nomination of Robert Pitman to the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, Amos Mazzant III to the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas and Robert “Trey” Schroeder III to the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District.

“Throughout their careers, these nominees have displayed unwavering commitment to justice and integrity,” said President Obama in a released statement. “Their records of public service are distinguished and impressive and I am confident that they will serve the American people well from the United States District Court bench.  I am honored to nominate them today.”

There are nine vacant spots on district benches in the state – more than any other state – with four listed as judicial emergencies by the U.S. courts administrative offices due to their heavy caseloads.

Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz recommended the names to the president after the candidates were screened by the Senate Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee. The nominations must be approved by the Senate.

Pitman is a native of Fort Worth who graduated from the University of Texas School of Law. He later served as an adjunct professor there.

He has served as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas since 2011. Previously, he served as a magistrate judge in the Western District from 2003 to 2011, and was an assistant U.S. attorney from 1990 to 2003.

He worked as an associate at the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski from 1989 to 1990 and served as a law clerk to Judge David O. Belew Jr. of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas from 1988 to 1989.

Pitman received his J.D. in 1988 from the University of Texas at Austin and his B.S. from Abilene Christian University in 1985.  Pitman also received a Master of Studies in Legal Research degree from the University of Oxford in 2011.

When he was nominated as U.S. Attorney, Pitman came out as gay, and will be the first openly gay federal judge in the state.

If confirmed by the Senate, he will take the bench formerly filled by W. Royal Furgeson Jr.

Mazzant , a federal magistrate judge in the Sherman Division since 2009, graduated from Baylor Law School in 1990. He was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to serve as a state appellate judge for the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas in 2004.

Mazzant clerked for retired U.S. District Judge Paul Brown in Sherman, as well as former magistrate judge Robert Faulkner, and Judge Faulkner's successor Judge Don Bush.  He also engaged in private practice in Sherman.

Mazzant is set to replace retired Judge T. John Ward and will preside over the Marshall court’s busy patent infringement case docket.

Schroeder is a partner with Patton Tidwell Schroeder & Culbertson LLP in Texarkana where he represents individuals and corporations in the state and federal courts of Texas and Arkansas.

His practice includes general civil and commercial litigation, and he has represented individual and corporate clients in cases involving trade secrets, products liability, patent infringement, negligence, breach of contract and employment discrimination.

According to the firm’s website, Schroeder attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and received a law degree from Washington College of Law at the American University in 1994.  He clerked for Judge Richard Arnold of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and served in the Clinton White House as Associate Counsel to the President.

Schroeder was in private practice when he joined Patton Tidwell. He is a member of the Arkansas State Board of Law Examiners and is a past president of the Texarkana Bar Association.

Schroeder would succeed retired Judge David Folsom. The post has been vacant for eight years and the vacancy was declared a judicial emergency.

Other vacancies are expected to come up even as these are being filled, including the announcement by Judge Leonard Davis of the Tyler Division of the Eastern District of Texas that he plans to retire in May 2015.

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