New Jersey judge becomes latest Obama appointee to resign early

  • US District Judge John Vazquez will leave the judiciary in September
  • Several other Obama appointees have resigned to join law firms

(Reuters) – A federal judge in New Jersey has announced plans to step down in September, becoming the latest appointee from former Democratic President Barack Obama to leave the bench before reaching retirement age.

U.S. District Judge John Vazquez, 52, announced his plans in a notice posted to the Justice Jobs website Thursday.

That’s the age at which federal judges who have completed at least 15 years of service can retire or enter senior status, a form of semi-retirement.

The departure of the judges should not ideologically tilt the courts, since Democratic President Joe Biden can nominate their successors. Experts say financial factors may explain why some judges are leaving their lifetime positions early.

“That late 40s to early 50s age range is there when some people’s children reach college age and the reality of paying tuition kicks in,” said John Collins, a law professor at George Washington University.

The reasons for Vasquez’s resignation were not immediately clear. He was a partner at the law firm Critchley, Kinum & Vazquez before the Senate confirmed him to a district judge position in January 2016.

Vasquez did not respond to requests for comment.

Among the judges who have recently resigned before being able to retire or assume senior status is Gregg Costa, a judge on the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals who resigned from the bench in August to join Gibson, Dunn & to connect Crutcher.

Former US District Judge Abdul Kallon in the Northern District of Alabama left the same month to join Perkins Coie’s Seattle office.

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In January, former US District Judge Gary Feinerman of Chicago joined Latham & Watkins, and a month later US District Judge George Hazel of Maryland joined Gibson Dunn.

Hazel, who had two college-age children, said the pay gap between his $232,600-year job as a judge and his position at the law firm was “absolutely a factor.”

According to The American Lawyer, Gibson Dunn’s average earnings per equity partner was $4.4 million in 2021.

US District Judge Paul Watford, a member of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, is also leaving the bench soon and plans to leave the judiciary in May to return to private practice.

Continue reading:

From the bench to the big law: why Judge Hazel was the last to hang up his robe

Federal judge leaves Chicago bench for Latham law firm

Watford of the 9th Circuit, former Supreme Court nominee, resigns

Retiring 5th Circuit Judge Costa will join Gibson Dunn

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Nate Raymond

Thomson Reuters

Nate Raymond reports on federal jurisdiction and litigation. He can be reached at [email protected].


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