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Hall confirmed to District Court judgeship

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WILMINGTON – U.S. District Court of Delaware Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Hall was confirmed Tuesday to a full judgeship on the important federal court in a rare overwhelming showing of bipartisanship.

U.S. District Court of Delaware Jennifer Hall

Jennifer Hall | PHOTO COURTESY OF US COURTS

Hall fills a vacancy to be created when Judge Richard G. Andrews takes senior status at the end of this year. She was confirmed in a 67-29 vote, marking the biggest bipartisan support of any district court nominee put forward by President Joe Biden to date.

Serving as a magistrate judge since 2019, Hall is a judicial officer of the U.S. district court appointed by the district judges to handle a variety of judicial proceedings, including issuing warrants, conducting preliminary proceedings in criminal cases, hearing cases involving petty offenses committed on federal lands, and handling pretrial motions and hearings in civil and criminal cases. While most civil cases are tried by district judges, magistrate judges may also preside over civil trials if all parties consent.

Both Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons lobbied for Hall’s confirmation Tuesday in a Senate that has frequently seen party-wide opposition to nominees by Republicans. They stressed her qualifications for the role, including serving as a magistrate judge, holding law and advanced molecular biophysics and biochemistry degrees, and working as a patent attorney.

It takes a special judge to serve in this court and Judge Hall’s unique background and extensive legal experience make her an ideal candidate,” Coons said before the confirmation vote.

“Magistrate Judge Hall has impressed her colleagues on the bench, both with her intellect and her work ethic, and she has a deep respect and knowledge of the law. Her background as a scientist, as a legal scholar, and as a magistrate judge have prepared her well for this new role,” Carper added.

Appointments to the District Court of Delaware are scrutinized by corporate America, because the court is the second busiest in the nation for patent litigation. It is also the preferred venue for pharmaceutical cases, with 63% of all patent cases under the Hatch-Waxman Amendment filed there last year.

Carl Tobias, law professor at the University of Richmond who has long tracked federal judicial nominations, said that Hall was very impressive in her confirmation hearing.

“I think she’ll be a great judge. It’s great for the district to have someone with her qualifications because they are just so well suited to the district in terms of its needs with difficult intellectual property cases,” he told Delaware Business Times.

Prior to joining the court as magistrate judge, Hall served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware from 2011 to 2019, including as chief of the office’s Civil Division from 2015 to 2019. Before a turn to prosecution, she was a patent lawyer in the Wilmington office of Fish & Richardson P.C.

Hall received her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University, and a B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota.

She served as a law clerk for Judge Kent A. Jordan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 2007 to 2008 and Judge Sharon Prost on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit from 2006 to 2007.

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