Biden judicial nominee appears stumped by basic legal terms: ‘I’m not sure’
President Joe Biden’s nominee for a vacant judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Christina Melton Crain, recently appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her confirmation hearing. During the hearing, she appeared to be stumped by basic legal terms. When asked to define specific terms such as “habeas corpus,”” nolle prosequi,” and “venue,” Crain responded, “I’m not sure.”
Crain’s lack of familiarity with these terms has raised concerns about her qualifications for the job, especially since she has been a licensed attorney since 1987 and is a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. She explained that her current teaching focus is on public policy and not on legal jargon. Still, several lawmakers expressed their disappointment.
Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, said, “That’s the sort of thing that I expect my first-year law students to know cold. That’s basic stuff.” Ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) added that she wanted Crain to show that she is “very familiar with the rules of evidence and the rules of procedure.”
Crain apologized for her lack of knowledge about the terms during the hearing, saying that her focus has been on topics that are not related to legal terminology. She did note however that she has not had any issues during her more than 30 years of practicing law, either in private practice or on the bench as a state judge. She assured the committee that she is qualified for the job and that she will be able to learn the terms if confirmed.
At the end of the hearing, committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) indicated that he still supports Crain’s nomination, saying that she appears “profoundly qualified.” The committee is expected to vote on her nomination within the next few weeks.