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Thursday March 29, 2012 | 11:58 AM

William Kayatta Jr., President Obama’s nominee for Maine’s seat on the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, is set for an April 19 Senate Judiciary Committee vote.

Kayatta was among the nominees on the committee’s list for a vote today – but it was the first time his name was on that list and it is traditional for the committee to wait until its next session to actually vote on a nominee the first time his or her name appears on the list.

The anticipated hold over means Kayatta’s committee vote has to wait until April 18 because the Senate is going on a two-week spring recess.

But it’s still good news for Kayatta’s nomination because the judiciary committee is expected to clear him for a full floor vote and that will happen early enough in the year to allow Kayatta to receive a Senate confirmation vote before the election year slowdown hits. By August, judicial nomination votes normally grind to a halt during an election year.

(Updated as of 3:55 p.m.: Glenn Sugameli, a staff attorney with the Judging the Environment project on judicial nominations, says that history shows that a non-controversial nominee still can be confirmed into the fall before an election. That would bode well for Kayatta if his confirmation vote doesn't come this spring, because he has the support of Maine GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.)

Kayatta, a nationally prominent trial attorney and a partner in the Pierce Atwood law firm in Portland, faced only a few questions from the four committee members who were present for his hearing last month - none indicating any controversy that's likely to impede his confirmation.

If endorsed by the Judiciary Committee and confirmed by the Senate, Kayatta, 58, of Cape Elizabeth, will replace Judge Kermit Lipez, who has held Maine's seat on the appellate court since 1998. Lipez shifted to "senior," semi-retired status on Dec. 31, and has said he will carry a full caseload until September.


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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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