Scioto County may have its first homegrown federal judge in over a century if President Donald Trump has his say.
On Thursday, Trump formally nominated Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge Matthew McFarland to serve as District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
A native of Wheelersburg who still lives in Scioto County, McFarland initially was nominated in October 2017 to the federal bench in a bipartisan move by Ohio Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), and Sherrod Brown, (D-OH.) The nomination seemed to have stalled for a while, but the White House made the announcement regarding McFarland and several other judicial nominees in a press release Thursday.
“I am pleased to recommend Judge Matt McFarland to the president to be the next federal judge in Dayton,” Portman said at the time of McFarland’s initial nomination.
“Judge McFarland has been a dedicated public servant in the state court of appeals. His esteemed reputation is well deserved, and I am confident he will continue distinguished service on the bench,” Portman added Thursday.
The nomination by Portman and Brown resulted from a bipartisan advisory commission. Should it move forward, that nomination will be vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee and sent for confirmation by the full U.S. Senate.
“I’m proud to join Sen. Portman in this bipartisan process,” Brown said in October of last year. “I thank Judge McFarland for his willingness to serve.”
McFarland first was elected to the Court of Appeals in 2004 and reelected in 2010 and 2016. He previously served as a visiting judge on the Ohio Supreme Court and on the 10th District Court of Appeals.
In addition to having a seat on the Fourth District Court of Appeals, McFarland is also an adjunct professor at Shawnee State University. He formerly taught constitutional law at Capital University. Further, McFarland served as magistrate for the Scioto County Common Pleas Court Probate/Juvenile Division and chaired the Ohio Association of Magistrates, Juvenile Division.
According to the White House press release and other sources, prior to serving on the bench, McFarland was a Scioto County assistant prosecutor and acted as Special Counsel for the Ohio Attorney General. He also was a Licking County assistant prosecutor. McFarland received his B.A., cum laude, from Capital University and his law degree from Capital University Law School. McFarland also served on the Wheelersburg Local Board of Education.
According to the appeals court website, McFarland was recognized in 2004 by the Ohio State Bar Foundation with the Outstanding Community Service Award for Lawyers 40 and under. In 2006, he received the Vern Riffe Leadership Award in recognition for outstanding service to the Boy Scouts of America (the site notes McFarland is an Eagle Scout) and the community. McFarland also was selected as the Capital University Law School’s Young Alumnus of the Year for 2008. This award was created in 2006 for young alumnus who made significant achievements in the legal occupation and/or notable contributions to the legal profession and the community.
McFarland was one of 13 judicial nominations Trump made Wednesday. He also nominated one U.S. attorney and two U.S. marshals.
McFarland’s office said the judge was in court Thursday afternoon and unavailable for comment. At the time of his nomination, McFarland first thanked Brown and Portman.
“This is very exciting,” McFarland added. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime, to have a chance at a federal judgeship.”
McFarland stated he did some research and discovered if chosen, he will be the first judge from Scioto County to serve in this capacity in more than 100 years. He added the last Scioto County judge to sit on District Court served from 1898 to 1910, and, like McFarland, rose up from probate court.
Saying they were acting in the interest of identifying the best possible judicial candidates for Ohio’s federal bench, Portman and Brown established the bipartisan Judicial Advisory Commission. Both senators chose the members of the commission to review applications and recommend candidates. This is a process first established by Brown and late U.S. Sen. George V. Voinovich, (R-OH.)