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Senate confirms Hollander, Bredar to U.S. District Court

Ellen L. Hollander and James K. Bredar will become U.S. District Court judges in Baltimore.

The U.S. Senate on Saturday confirmed Hollander, a Maryland Court of Special Appeals judge, to the federal bench on a 95-0 vote.

The Senate approved Bredar, a U.S. magistrate judge at the Baltimore court, by voice vote on Thursday.

Both incoming judges reflected on their careers Monday, even as they looked toward their new assignments.

“It’s the fulfillment of a dream from my days as a law clerk,” said Hollander, who in the mid-1970s worked for U.S. District Judge James R. Miller Jr. of Baltimore.

While stressing that she is “extremely proud,” and “extremely excited and eager to get started,” Hollander said she will miss her fellow judges on the Court of Special Appeals, where she has served for 16 years.

“As excited as I am, there is a tinge of sadness to leave my colleagues,” she said. “This is truly a special group of people.”

Bredar, when he takes the judicial oath, will become the first former federal public defender to sit on the federal bench in Maryland — a slice of history he deeply appreciates.

“As a judge, it is my responsibility to treat everyone before me fairly: the government, private parties, the indigent, everyone,” Bredar said. “But I do think it is a good day when lawyers whose work was in the representation of the poor and the disenfranchised are appointed to the bench because those lawyers bring with them a special perspective that’s borne of that work,” he added. “The bench needs to reflect the whole society. Public defenders are an important element of the bar.”

Hollander, whose swearing in has not yet been scheduled, has served on Maryland’s intermediate court since 1994. Bredar, who is slated to be sworn in Wednesday, has been a federal magistrate judge since 1998.

Their confirmations were among 10 approved by the Senate last week, including that of Albert Diaz to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Nine more confirmations are expected before adjournment (see related story, page 12A).

Obama nominated Hollander and Bredar to the U.S. District Court in Baltimore on April 21. The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary rated both of them “well qualified,” the panel’s highest rating.

Hollander, 61, will take the seat left vacant when President Obama appointed Judge André M. Davis to the 4th Circuit last fall. Bredar, 53, will succeed Judge J. Frederick Motz, who has taken senior status.

For Hollander, the appointment marks a return to being a trial judge. She served on the Baltimore City Circuit Court from 1989 to 1994, when then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer, a Democrat, appointed her to the Court of Special Appeals.

“I hope it’s like riding a bicycle,” Hollander said of once again presiding over trials.

Linda Hitt Thatcher, a veteran federal-court litigator, hailed the Senate’s confirmation of Hollander and Bredar but decried the eight-month wait between their nomination and confirmation.

“It’s about time,” said Thatcher. “Both of those individuals are highly qualified for that position.”

Hollander and Bredar have the three qualities Thatcher said she values in a federal judge: They’re very smart, patient and have the ability to “move their docket along very quickly.”

Thatcher, of the Thatcher Law Firm LLC in Greenbelt, is president of the Federal Bar Association’s Maryland chapter.

Before becoming a judge, Hollander was in private practice at the since-dissolved Baltimore law firm Frank, Bernstein, Conaway & Goldman from 1975 to 1979 and from 1983 to 1989. Her time with the firm was interrupted by a four-year stint as an assistant U.S. attorney in Baltimore.

Bredar, who spent the early years of his legal career in Colorado, moved to Maryland in 1992 when he was appointed federal public defender.

He was an assistant federal public defender in Denver from 1989 to 1991. Before that, he served as a prosecutor, first as deputy district attorney in Craig, Colo., from 1984 to 1985 and then as an assistant U.S. attorney in Denver from 1985 to 1989.

Bredar began his career as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch from 1983 to 1984.  Bredar said he learned a lot about being a judge from Matsch, who presided over the 1997 trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and sentenced him to death.

Matsch “was a terrific role model for any lawyer, especially for a lawyer aspiring to be a judge,” Bredar said. “He was bright, hardworking and he followed the law. He had tremendous integrity.”

Hollander and Bredar both graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center, in 1974 and 1982, respectively.

Their confirmations leave one nominee for the U.S. District Court in Maryland pending in the Senate.

Charles B. Day, 53, awaits a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his July 21 nomination by Obama to the court in Greenbelt, where Day serves as a U.S. magistrate judge.

Day was nominated to succeed Judge Peter J. Messitte, who has taken senior status.

If Day is not confirmed before Congress adjourns for the year, his nomination will expire. He can be renominated by the president.