Local attorney sworn in as member of second highest court in the United States - East Idaho News

Local attorney sworn in as member of second highest court in the United States

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IDAHO FALLS — A local lawyer was confirmed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at his Idaho Falls home Sunday night.

Judge Ryan Nelson, surrounded by family and friends, took an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States as he was sworn in to sit on the second highest court in the country.

“I can’t wait to get started and get to work,” Nelson told EastIdahoNews.com.

Judge N. Randy Smith, of Pocatello, also a 9th Circuit judge, performed the swearing-in.

“I am so happy to have Ryan come join us on our court,” Smith said in his comments before the swearing in. “I am so grateful that the president of the United States saw fit to have a kid — I say a kid because I’m nearly 70 — a kid like this come and help us.”

Smith went on to say he knows Nelson is prepared to take the position because his father is Idaho Falls attorney Doug Nelson.

RELATED: U.S. Senate confirms Idaho Falls attorney to serve on 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

“My dad is definitely my hero,” Nelson said. “My dad, my mom and my wife are the three people who made me who I am, and I’m thankful for that.”

The U.S. Senate voted on Oct. 11 to confirm Nelson to the 9th Circuit. He was nominated by President Donald Trump in May.

Nelson becomes the eighth Idaho judge serving on the 29-member 9th Circuit and the first circuit judge to maintain chambers in Idaho Falls. Nelson plans to hire a judicial assistant and four law clerks taken from applicants in Idaho and around the country.

“There applicants are the best law clerks in the country, and they’re coming from all over,” Nelson said.

In his role as judge, Nelson will hear hundreds of cases every year. Most of his time judging cases will be in San Francisco and Pasadena, California, Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Nelson said out of the thousands of cases heard by court each year, only several hundred come from Idaho.

This position marks the first time Nelson has served as a judge, but he says he has a great deal of experience working in the court system.

“For the last 20 years, I’ve been an appellate lawyer handling cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and in appellate courts across the county, including in the 9th Circuit,” Nelson said.

Nelson was born and raised in Idaho Falls. He attended the Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School. He worked in the federal government as special counsel for Supreme Court nominations to the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also worked as deputy general counsel to the White House Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant attorney general in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Before being appointed to the 9th Circuit, Nelson had been a general counsel for Melaleuca Inc. since 2009.

“Throughout his diverse legal career, Ryan Nelson developed the necessary tools to serve the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as a sound and principled jurist,” Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, said in a news release. “A native Idahoan, Ryan will bring a valuable perspective to the court — upholding our way of life, respecting the rule of law and rejecting judicial activism.”