Obama nominates Pitman for US Attorney

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After two years of delays, President Obama made U.S. Attorney nominations for each of Texas’ four districts Tuesday.

Robert Pitman, a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Western district of Texas, is the nominee for the Western district which spans from Austin to El Paso. He is a graduate of the UT School of Law and an adjunct law and Plan II professor. Pending Senate approval, he will be the first openly gay U.S. Attorney to serve Texas.

Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and John Cornyn, R-Texas, recommended the nominees after the Senate’s bipartisan Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee reviewed them. The other nominees include John Bales for the Eastern district, Kenneth Magidson for the Southern district and Sarah Saldaña for the Northern district.

“Texans deserve independent, no-nonsense prosecutors, and I’m proud to say these nominees fit the bill,” Cornyn said in a Senate press release. “I’m pleased the President has nominated individuals who are of the highest caliber, both professionally and personally.”

Pitman served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for 13 years and as Interim U.S. Attorney in 2001. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of the Western district of Texas works closely with Pitman.

“He sees both the prosecutorial side and the judicial side,” Yeakal said. “He has an overall broad view and knowledge of the criminal justice system.”

If the Senate approves his appointment, he will resign from teaching as a requirement of the job.

Pitman worked with associate professor Michael Stoff, director of the Plan II Honors program, when he taught a freshman Plan II signature course. A few hours before the official White House nomination Tuesday, Stoff said students who take a class from Pitman talk about him years later.

Last spring he taught a trial advocacy course in which students learn and practice the various parts of a trial. Recent Law School graduate Stephen Myers took the class.

“That’s kind of nerve wracking to have a judge grade you, but his humor, his down-to-earth demeanor really put us at ease so we could get the most out of the exercise,” Myers said.

Myers said that Pitman wasn’t afraid to make fun of himself and gave practical insight into courtroom proceedings.

“I think that open-mindedness that he has will help him be a good representative of all of us,” Myers said.

Pitman declined to comment on his nomination.