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Judge Ryan Nelson honored during investiture ceremony


IDAHO FALLS — The United States 9th Circuit Court received its newest member Friday.

Around 300 people attended Judge Ryan D. Nelson’s investiture as a member of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Idaho Falls Friday. Nelson is the first circuit judge to maintain chambers in Idaho Falls.

“It’s always a wonderful thing when we have a new judge coming on our court,” 9th Circuit Chief Judge Emeritus J. Clifford Wallace said. “We have the largest appellate court in the history of the United States. We have 29 judges plus senior judges who continue after they’ve taken senior status to do some work.”

Nelson was appointed to 9th Circuit Judge N. Randy Smith’s position on the court after Smith took senior status. Smith shared some words of wisdom for Nelson.

“Go give it your best shot. Work as hard as you can. Be courteous. Be kind. Be forgiving. Do the best you can with what you can do,” Smith said.

Smith said joining the court can be a daunting experience for new judges.

“Judge Nelson is absolutely well qualified for the job, absolutely able to what he has to do,” Smith said.

Judge Nelson Investiture Speech
Judge Ryan D. Nelson addresses an audiance of roughly 300 people after taking the Oath of Office. | Mike Price,

President Donald Trump nominated Nelson in May 2018. The U.S. Senate confirmed Nelson the court on Oct. 11 and he was sworn in at his home on Oct. 22.

“I’m really grateful to have this all brought together, to be able to celebrate this event with the local community. That was really important to me to bring the people who supported me throughout my life to witness this historic event,” Nelson told

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

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“I’ve enjoyed getting into the cases — I’ve already sat on three different panels — and getting to know my colleagues,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with all of my colleagues to get the right result in each case the comes before us.”

Idaho Governor Brad Little attended the investiture ceremony.

“We’ve always had great representation, but this is a big move to continue that,” Little said. “Judge Nelson will do just an outstanding job of taking (Judge Smith’s) place on the bench,” Little said.

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