Biden nominates Jerry Blackwell, attorney who prosecuted Derek Chauvin, to be federal judge in Minnesota

Throughout President Joe Biden’s tenure in office so far, he has announced countless nominations for various federal positions where it is rather obvious that the selection was made, at least in part, based on factors like race, gender, and ideology, in addition to the typical qualifications for the job in question.

Some of that may be at play with President Biden’s latest nominee for a federal judgeship in Minnesota, Jerry Blackwell, one of the attorneys who successfully prosecuted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the 2020 murder of George Floyd, the Daily Wire reported.

Nomination heralded by Minnesota’s Democratic senators

On Wednesday, the White House announced several nominations that President Biden had sent to the Senate for consideration, and among that list was “Jerry W. Blackwell, of Minnesota, to be United States District Judge for the District of Minnesota.”

That nomination of Blackwell was immediately greeted with statements of support from Minnesota’s pair of Democratic senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith via a joint news release through Klobuchar’s office.

“Jerry Blackwell is widely respected and loved within the Minnesota legal community. His extensive trial experience — including the successful prosecution of the murder of George Floyd — makes him an excellent choice to be a U.S. District Court Judge,” Klobuchar said. “As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to confirm him.”

“With more than three decades of legal experience, Jerry Blackwell is exceptionally well-qualified to be a U.S. District Court Judge. I am confident that his experience and commitment to equal justice will make him an excellent federal judge,” Smith said. “I want to congratulate him on his nomination and I look forward to working with my colleagues to confirm him to this post.”

Praised by AG Keith Ellison, Al Sharpton

Minnesota’s Star Tribune reported that Blackwell, who has never previously served as a judge, had actually been recommended to President Biden as a potential judicial nominee along with a few other individuals by Sens. Klobuchar and Smith.

Blackwell, who received his education and degrees from the University of North Carolina, has spent the bulk of his career in private practice in the Minneapolis area, where he was a founding partner of the Blackwell Burke law firm. He also founded two professional associations known as the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers and the Twin Cities Committee on Minority Lawyers in Large Law Firms.

The attorney had been specially chosen by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) to serve as a special assistant attorney general in the prosecution of Chauvin, and Ellison told the Star Tribune that Blackwell was a “one-in-a-million lawyer.” Also praising Blackwell as a “good choice” was the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network had assisted with the prosecution of Chauvin.

“He’s brilliant, thoughtful, and fair, not to mention a pioneer among African American attorneys,” the attorney general said of Blackwell. “It’s hard to imagine how anyone could be better qualified for the federal bench.”

Democratic donor

As for Blackwell’s ideology, according to data from Open Secrets, it appears that he and his law firm had made several financial contributions to a number of Democratic politicians over the years, including AG Ellison, Gov. Tim Walz (D), former President Barack Obama, and the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, among others.

The Daily Wire noted that there are currently six federal district judges in Minnesota who are evenly split between Democratic and Republican appointees and that the addition of Blackwell as the seventh judge, if confirmed, would obviously give that court a Democratic advantage.

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