Clark Waddoups breezed through a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday en route to becoming a new federal judge in Utah —a job that, ironically, could cut his salary by two-thirds from what he has earned as one of Utah's premier lawyers.

His disclosure forms filed with the committee show he was paid $564,600 last year as senior partner in his law firm of Parr, Waddoups, Brown, Gee & Loveless. The pay for federal district judges is $169,200.

Waddoups pledged Tuesday to treat all with respect and fairness in his court, if confirmed. "That is a principal to which I am formally committed. And I assure you that is what I would attempt to do to the best of my ability," he said.

He was asked only a few easy questions by Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., that included asking him to pledge to treat all fairly, recuse himself when conflicts appear, and to apply the law equally to everyone.

Waddoups pledged to do that "without any question at all," and added, "I believe I enjoy a reputation among the lawyers in our community as having treated everyone with respect."

Waddoups was nominated by President Bush in May to fill a vacancy created last year when former District Judge Paul Cassell decided to return to teach at the University of Utah.

The only real question hanging over Waddoups' nomination is whether the Senate can or will act to confirm him before its expected adjournment at the end of this month. Senators often halt confirmations late in the year, opting to wait until after elections to let the next president make nominations.

But the fact that Leahy even allowed the hearing for Waddoups and a few others bodes well.

Also, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a senior member of the committee, told the Deseret News, "There is no reason that a nominee like Clark Waddoups, about whom there is no conceivable controversy, cannot be confirmed by the time the Senate adjourns."

Hatch also told the committee that an extended vacancy in the Utah district would create a hardship on the other four federal judges.

Hatch and Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, also testified on behalf of Waddoups at the hearing. Hatch called him a "lawyer's lawyer," and said he expects Waddoups to be "a pillar of the bench not only in Utah but in the entire country."

Waddoups, in a written questionnaire given to the committee, said, "My practice primarily involves complex commercial transactions, contract disputes, intellectual property, construction, antitrust, securities laws and claims of discrimination or sexual misconduct." Much of his work has been in federal court.

The disclosure form also lists the net worth of his investments, not counting his home or cars, as between $960,000 and $5.4 million. The value of investments is disclosed only within broad categories.

Waddoups, 62, graduated from law school at the University of Utah in 1973, and earned a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University in 1970.

If his nomination is confirmed, he will join a long line of partners and associates from his law firm who have become judges.

Dale Kimball, a former partner with that firm, and Dee Benson, a former associate, now serve as federal judges in Utah. Utah Supreme Court justices Matthew Durrant and Jill Parrish also were firm partners, as was Utah Court of Appeals Judge Carolyn McHugh.

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