During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this week, one of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees struggled to answer basic questions from a Republican senator about legal terms.
Matthew Spencer Petersen, who was nominated to serve as a district court judge for the District of Columbia, formerly served on the Federal Election Commission and as Republican chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) quizzed Petersen on his legal background and knowledge on Wednesday, beginning by asking if he had ever tried a case in court. Petersen replied that he had not. Petersen also said that he has never taken a deposition on his own, though he helped while working as an associate at a law firm after he finished law school.
Kennedy then started on legal terminology, asking Petersen if he knows what the Daubert standard is.
“Sen. Kennedy, I don’t have that readily at my disposal, but I would be happy to take a closer look at that. That is not something I’ve had to contend with,” Petersen replied.
Similarly, Petersen said he did not have a deep understanding of a motion to limine. The nominee then touted his experience at the FEC, which he argued has prepared him to be a judge.
“Yes, I’ve read your resume,” Kennedy interjected before asking again about a motion to limine. “Just for the record, do you know what a motion in limine is?”
“I would probably not be able to give you a good definition right here at the table,” Petersen replied.
Watch a video of the exchange shared by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) Thursday night:
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) December 15, 2017