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LDS federal judges raising the bar

Comprising a third of all previous such appointees

Six new LDS federal judges were nominated by President George W. Bush, confirmed by the U.S. Senate and sworn in during 2002 and 2003.

Judge Block
Judge Block Photo: Photo courtesy Mark Cannon

That six LDS judges were appointed — about a third as many active LDS as were appointed by all previous presidents of the U.S. — is a surprise even to judiciary-minded Church members.

These judges include Lawrence J. Block, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which largely adjudicates claims against the U.S. government; four district judges, who largely preside at civil and criminal trials: David G. Campbell, U.S. District Court for Arizona; Kent A. Jordan, U.S. District Court for Delaware; Robert Clive Jones, U.S. District Court for Nevada; and Michael W. Mosman, U.S. District Court for Oregon; and an LDS judge in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Jay S. Bybee, who largely hears and votes on legal issues in appeals from district court judgements.

These new judges have exceptional characteristics:

• All six won federal judicial clerkships, including two at the U.S. Supreme Court.

• Five, who went to courts whose judicial nominees are rated by the American Bar Association, all received the vaunted highest rating of the ABA "well qualified."

• All six of these were appointed to courts outside of Utah, some as far away as Delaware and Oregon.

• Nearly all were unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

• The five who were LDS in their youth filled missions and have been active in Church service.

David G. Campbell, one of 13 Arizona District Court judges, and his wife, Stacey Sweet Campbell, with their children.
David G. Campbell, one of 13 Arizona District Court judges, and his wife, Stacey Sweet Campbell, with their children. Photo: Photo courtesy Mark Cannon

However, despite these new appointments, there is still a smaller percentage of LDS judges among active federal district and appellate judges than the percentage of LDS in the total U.S. population. And, as is the procedure in certain circumstances, if cases involving the Church came before an LDS judge, he or she might recuse himself or herself.

What kind of people are these new LDS appointees?

Lawrence J. Block was confirmed as a judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims by the U.S. Senate Oct. 2, 2002, at the age of 51. Judge Block has profound love for the American Constitution.

"My mother fled to this country in 1938 from the Nazi Empire," he said. "And most of her family was tortured and murdered in unimaginable ways in a systematic attempt by Hitler and his criminal cronies to exterminate Europe's Jewry. These were decent and hard-working people. Their only crime: to worship the Lord in their own way and to practice the faith of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

"Since childhood, I have been conscious more than most, therefore, of the blessings that God Himself has bestowed on this nation. These blessings are not simply great wealth, but are instead, the gifts of liberty and peace. There is not a day that goes by that I do not thank God for sparing my mother's life and for the great gifts that we Americans share. Simply put, I am a living example of what is still the 'American Dream.' I am a son of a refugee. And my elevation to the federal bench truly represents the victory of that American dream and in a very real way the final defeat of Adolf Hitler."

Kent A. Jordan became one of four U.S. District Court judges for Delaware. He and his wife, Michelle Weaver Jordan, are parents of six children.
Kent A. Jordan became one of four U.S. District Court judges for Delaware. He and his wife, Michelle Weaver Jordan, are parents of six children. Photo: Photo courtesy Mark Cannon

Judge Block earned his B.A. magna cum laude, from New York University and his law degree from the John Marshall Law School. He was a law clerk to Judge Roger J. Miner, Northern District of New York; litigation attorney for U.S. Department of Justice; adjunct professor at George Mason University School of Law, and Deputy Assistant General Counsel for Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy. From 1994 until his judgeship, he was senior counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee while Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was either chairman or a ranking member of the committee.

David G. Campbell was nominated to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, which has 13 judges, in March 2003, and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate July 8, 2003, at the age of 51. A native of Utah, he earned B.A. and law degrees from the University of Utah. After clerking for Judge J. Clifford Wallace of the Ninth Circuit, he was law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. Being a Supreme Court clerk is one of the more prestigious positions in the U.S. government.

Judge Campbell has been adjunct professor teaching Constitutional Law at Arizona State University and was a visiting professor at BYU Law School where he was named Professor of the Year. He was a highly respected trial lawyer with numerous public service assignments.

He served a mission in the England Birmingham Mission. He is a former bishop and is serving in his second stake presidency. Judge Campbell says he has "been happily married to Stacey Sweet Campbell for 27 years. Marrying her is still the best decision I've ever made." They have five children.

Kent A. Jordan became one of four U.S. District Court judges for Delaware in November 2002 at age 45. His father, Amos Jordan, a Rhodes Scholar, was the youngest professor in the history of the United States Military Academy, a brigadier general and a senior official in the departments of State and Defense, author of a widely used text on national security. Now at 83, Amos Jordan was recently asked to help former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger assist in the preparation and review of the report on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Judge Robert Clive Jones, at his desk, is one of seven U.S. District Court judges for Nevada. His confirmation in the U.S. Senate was unanimous.
Judge Robert Clive Jones, at his desk, is one of seven U.S. District Court judges for Nevada. His confirmation in the U.S. Senate was unanimous. Photo: Photo courtesy Mark Cannon

Judge Jordan's "remarkably gifted" mother's "example of loving support and spiritual commitment has been enormously influential in our family." His five brothers and sisters, including David Jordan who was U.S. Attorney in Utah, "are all thoroughly accomplished, public spirited, and service-oriented souls."

Judge Jordan received his B.A. from BYU with high honors and his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He clerked for U.S. District judge for Delaware James L. Latchum, who had extensive law firm and corporate practice particularly related to intellectual property law, which is a major source of litigation in Delaware where Du Pont Corporation is located. He was Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware 1987 to 1992 where he was chief of the Civil Division. He performed numerous civic, educational and professional activities.

He married Michelle Weaver 23 years ago, and they have six children, two of whom are on missions in Bulgaria and Australia. His many Church positions range from his mission in Japan to teaching seminary to serving in bishoprics.

Robert Clive Jones was appointed U.S. District Court Judge, District of Nevada, filling one of seven judgeships, after unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate on Dec. 1, 2003, at the age of 56.

Born in Las Vegas, he attended BYU and graduated with honors in accounting, economics and English. Shortly after graduation in 1971, he passed all four parts of the CPA exam. He worked for several national CPA firms during law school, including Touche Ross and Deloitte Haskins and Sells. He attended UCLA Law School where he was chosen associate editor of the Law Review, and served in the Air National Guard.

Judge Michael W. Mosman
Judge Michael W. Mosman Photo: Photo courtesy Mark Cannon

In 1983, Judge Jones was appointed U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the District of Nevada. He was Chief Judge from 1984 to 1993. He also was chosen to serve on the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the Ninth Circuit from 1986 to 1999, handling appeals from the bankruptcy courts throughout the Ninth Circuit. During that period, he issued many published opinions establishing bankruptcy law for the circuit. For six years, he served on the national Judicial Conference Committee on codes of conduct, handling ethics issues for federal judges throughout the nation.

Judge Jones has been married 34 years to Michele Bunker Jones and they have four married children. His father-in-law, Wayne Bunker, comes from a pioneer family that helped to settle southern Nevada. His father, Robert E. Jones, grew up in northern Utah and was Clark County district attorney. Judge Jones' mother was Meryl Dunn Jones, once a personal secretary to President Heber J. Grant and who helped write the first Hill Cumorah Pageant while on her mission in New York.

He has served in many Church positions, ranging from his mission in Japan from 1966 to 1969, to Scoutmaster, bishop , high councilor, elders quorum president, coach and Young Men president.

Michael W. Mosman was confirmed Sept. 25, 2003, at age 46 to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Oregon, which has six authorized judges. He attended Ricks College and Utah State University where he was valedictorian of his college. He attended the BYU Law School where he graduated magna cum laude. He was editor-in-chief of the BYU Law Review in 1984. He was law clerk to Judge Malcolm Wilkie, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and then was a clerk to Justice Lewis F. Powell, U.S. Supreme Court.

He entered private practice in Portland, but in a few years turned to his love of public service, becoming assistant U.S. attorney, District of Oregon, 1988-2001, and then U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, 2001-2003.

Judge Mosman was born in Oregon and raised in Lewiston, Idaho, where his father was a prosecutor, state judge and in private legal practice. Mike Mosman always respected the values he saw, and he commented on his fondness for small town life at his installation both as U. S. Attorney and as a federal judge.

He married Suzanne Cannon Hogan 25 years ago and they have raised five children. Judge Mosman has a great sense of humor which is part of their family activities. He has also been involved in sports and jogs.

Bybee family
Bybee family Photo: Photo courtesy Mark Cannon

He filled a mission to Spain, and served as a bishop.

Jay S. Bybee was confirmed at age 49 by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 74 to 19, on March 13, 2003, to become a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. With 28 active judges (in addition to senior judges who work part-time), this is the largest appellate court in the country.

He was raised in Las Vegas, Nev., and Louisville, Ky., by parents who encouraged their children's scholarly interests. He was a Hinckley Scholar at BYU where he graduated magna cum laude. He graduated from BYU Law School, cum laude, in 1980 and clerked for Judge Donald Russell on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. After being an associate with Sidley and Austin, he worked in the office of Legal Policy and the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. From 1989 to 1991, he was Associate Counsel to President George H.W. Bush.

A natural teacher, future judge Bybee then became a professor of law at Louisiana State University and University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where students voted him Professor of the Year in 2000. At both universities, he taught constitutional law, administrative law, and civil procedure.

In 2001, he took leave of absence from UNLV to become Assistant Attorney General for the office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. This office gives legal advice to the Attorney General and the President.

He and his three siblings and their spouses each served LDS missions. He served in the Chile Santiago Mission and his future wife, the former Diana Greer, was a missionary in the Paraguay Asuncion Mission. During their 18-year marriage, they have continued to pass on the importance of academic excellence and religious service to their four children.

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