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Senate confirms new federal judge for Utah; Lee votes no

Published: Thursday, March 22 2012 1:51 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly confirmed David O. Nuffer as a federal judge Thursday, though one of Utah's senators did not vote for him.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has objected recently to President Barack Obama making "recess" appointments during a time when the Senate did not consider itself in recess. The move  bypassed the Senate's advise-and-consent role on four nominees in January. Lee said Obama took power for himself that belongs to the Senate.

“Among the ways I have chosen to register my objection to these unconstitutional actions is to vote against the president’s nominees for district and circuit court judgeships," he said.

Lee said he "continued taking this principled stance" by voting against Nuffer. "I did so despite my unequivocal support for Judge Nuffer and my belief that he will be an excellent federal district court judge," he said.

Lee earlier expressed frustration with the time it was taking to confirm Nuffer, who was recommended by Sen. Orrin Hatch last June.

Hatch, R-Utah, said he knows Nuffer well, and that "he has the experience, temperament, and integrity to be a great federal judge. He’s been involved in virtually all aspects of the Utah legal community and is widely respected by lawyers and judges throughout our state."

Nuffer became a part-time U.S. magistrate judge in 1995 and assumed the job full time in 2003. Magistrate judges in the federal system primarily handle misdemeanor crimes.

He worked in private practice for 23 years, focusing on civil litigation, real estate development and municipalities, and served as president of the Utah State Bar. He earned undergraduate and law degrees from BYU.

“Judge Nuffer has become an expert in the use of technology by litigants and in the courts, and his extensive publications in this field and others have benefited countless attorneys and judges," Lee said. He also has served as adjunct professor at BYU's law school the past decade.

Nuffer's confirmation brings the number of full-time federal judges in Utah to four, one short of a full complement. Obama appointed Salt Lake lawyer Robert J. Shelby last November to fill the other vacancy. His confirmation is pending.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com Twitter: dennisromboy

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