Richard E. Myers II : Jamaican Law Professor Nominated for US Federal Judge

Sheri-kae McLeod

Richard E. Myers II, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and George R. Ward Associate Professor of Law, at UNC Chapel Hill, is photographed by Steve Exum.

NORTH CAROLINA – President Donald Trump recently nominated Jamaican law professor Richard E Myers II to fill the longest federal judicial vacancy in the United States.

On August 14, Trump nominated the professor to be a federal judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The post has been vacant since January 2006, making it the longest federal judge vacancy in America, according to a list from the U.S. Administrative Office of the Courts.

The position has been vacant for 13 years due to the habit of US Senators in blocking the confirmation of nominees. The previous nominee Thomas Farr had been nominated to become a US District judge four times, twice by President George W Bush and twice by Trump, but never received confirmation.  However, advocacy groups in North Carolina heavily criticized Farr’s work defending state voting and redistricting laws that judges declared discriminated against black voters. Additionally, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Senate’s sole black Republican, announced he was not in support of Farr becoming a District Judge. His nomination was returned to the White House in January of this year because the Senate never voted on it.

In the Eastern District of North Carolina that has never had a black federal judge, even though blacks account for 30 percent of the district’s population, Myers is seemingly a good pick.

The state’s two senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have both voiced their support for Myers as the new federal judge. In a statement, Tills said, “Myers’ prosecutorial work, as well as his well-deserved reputation as one of our state’s best legal scholars provide him with the background and qualifications required to serve the Eastern District with distinction”.

Legal Excellence; Jamaican At Heart

Richard E. Myers was born in Kingston, Jamaica and lived there for several years before migrating to Miami at 10 years old. At 14 years old, he and his family moved from Miami to Wilmington, North Carolina.

He earned both his Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s degree from the University of North Carolina and his law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law. Upon graduation from law school, he worked as a Reporter before clerking in Washington, D.C., on the United States Court of Appeals. But it wasn’t until Myers was working as a litigator in Los Angeles that he got the push to apply for a federal prosecutor position.

“My mom called me from the East Coast and said, “something strange is happening in New York.” I turned the TV on and saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center.” Myers told Focus Carolina Radio Show.

He explained that the day after 9/11, he sent in his official applications for federal prosecutor. “That made me realize that I wanted to get into the game. This was something that I felt like I could do and something I felt like I owed a country that had been really good to my immigrant family”, he said.

He worked as a Prosecutor when he was hired as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina in 2002, focusing on white-collar and violent crimes. Prior to 2002, he worked as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California.

Throughout his outstanding career, Myers has worked in several positions including Prosecutor, Defense Attorney, Journalist and now a Law Professor at his alma mater, University of North Carolina. Myers now teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Ethics, and a seminar on White Collar Crime.

If Senate accepts his nomination, he will be the Eastern District of North Carolina’s first black federal judge.

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