Donald Trump Lobbied Ed Meese to Have His Sister Appointed To Federal Bench

August 18th, 2015

I’ve so far been able to resist writing anything about Donald Trump, but this nugget hits too close to home. The New York Times has a lengthy profile of Donald’s lesser-known sister, Judge Marion Trump Barry. Judge Trump Barry was nominated to the District Court of New Jersey in 1982 by President Reagan, and to the Third Circuit by President Clinton in the waning days of 1999.

The article offers this history of how Trump Barry was selected for the District Court nomination:

In 1982, when she was the highest-ranking woman in the United States attorney’s office in Newark, she married Mr. Barry. The next year, the Reagan administration reached out to Thomas Kean, New Jersey’s Republican governor, seeking his recommendation for a Federal District Court judgeship in the state.

“They wanted a woman, and they asked me if I had a good woman,” Mr. Kean said. He surveyed a sounding board of former New Jersey Supreme Court justices and legal counselors, and, he recalled, “every one of them recommended the same name, Maryanne Barry.”

On all of the documents Ms. Barry prepared for him, Mr. Kean said, she appeared as Maryanne Barry. Only as she was about to be appointed did he find out that she was a sister of Mr. Trump, who, Mr. Kean said, “never made a call recommending his sister.”

But that did not mean Mr. Trump kept entirely clear of the appointment process.

According to a person involved in the effort to appoint Ms. Barry, who discussed the clandestine strategy on the condition of anonymity, Mr. Trump had his lawyer, Roy M. Cohn, a politically connected former counsel to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, lobby Edwin Meese III, then a senior White House aide, to put his sister on the bench.

“I’m no different than any other brother that loves his sister,” Mr. Trump said when asked about Mr. Cohn’s pressure on the Reagan administration. “My sister got the appointment totally on her own merit.”

Ms. Barry herself has given her brother some of the credit for her appointment. “There’s no question Donald helped me get on the bench,” she was quoted as saying in Gwenda Blair’s “The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire.” “I was good, but not that good.”

Wow. A quick google search reveals that Cohn was involved in McCarthy’s hearings, and was on the DOJ team that prosecuted Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

Also one other bit in the interview raised a flag:

Ms. Barry — whose husband, John J. Barry, was a politically connected New Jersey lawyer who counted Mr. Trump as one of his clients — now lives in a Fifth Avenue apartment in Manhattan overlooking Central Park. She declined to comment for this article.

Her chambers are in Newark. I thought that it was expected, if not customary, that judges reside in the state of their court. For certain, judges are required to keep their chambers in the state they were nominated to. (Note though the Third Circuit made a special dispensation for Judge Aldisiert, but not for Judge Sarokin)

Update: 28 U.S.C 44(c) provides “Except in the District of Columbia, each circuit judge shall be a resident of the circuit for which appointed at the time of his appointment and thereafter while in active service.” Since Judge Trump Barry is a senior status judge, she is not required to live in the Third Circuit (including New Jersey).

In contrast, under 28 U.S.C  134(b) all district judges–active and senior–must live in the district for which they are appointed (with some exceptions for D.D.C, SDNY, and EDNY):

Each district judge, except in the District of Columbia, the Southern District of New York, and the Eastern District of New York, shall reside in the district or one of the districts for which he is appointed. Each district judge of the Southern District of New York and the Eastern District of New York may reside within 20 miles of the district to which he or she is appointed.

Same for U.S. Attorneys, under 28 U.S.C. 545(a):

Each United States attorney shall reside in the district for which he is appointed, except that these officers of the District of Columbia, the Southern District of New York, and the Eastern District of New York may reside within 20 miles thereof.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys have a bit more flexibility:

Each assistant United States attorney shall reside in the district for which he or she is appointed or within 25 miles thereof.

H/T Reader Patrick G.