January 25, 2023
Durbin Questions District Court Nominees in Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned district court nominees in the first Senate Judiciary Committee nominations hearing of the 118th Congress. Durbin began by questioning Michael Farbiarz, nominee to be a United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey, about counterintelligence and counterterrorism cases he helped investigate and prosecute.
"In 2010, the FBI arrested 10 Russian sleeper agents in the United States who had been planted here by SVR, the Russian foreign intelligence service, in an effort to infiltrate government circles. Not only were you the lead prosecutor in this case, before their arrest you were the Assistant United States Attorney overseeing the investigation. As an AUSA, you also supported the investigation and prosecution of Abduwali Muse, a Somali pirate who hijacked the MV Maersk Alabama by kidnapping and ransoming the crew. Additionally, you were the lead prosecutor in the case against Ahmed Ghailani, an al-Qaeda member who helped orchestrate the 1998 truck bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, that killed 224 and injured thousands… Could you please comment on the lessons learned from those cases?" Durbin asked.
Mr. Farbiarz responded that with all cases he prosecuted, he tries to follow the Supreme Court's directive to seek "justice and not victory, to pursue the guilty but protect the innocent, and to see oneself not as using the law but as a servant of the law."
Durbin continued by reflecting on his time as a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, and the lessons he learned.
"I can still remember my early practice in Springfield, Illinois, and the judges I faced in those courtrooms. I have an opinion of each one of them as judges and more importantly as people. I hope you understand this lifetime appointment gives you an opportunity to serve our nation and also the people that come before you. I ask for humility in your effort and that you respect the people who come into your courtroom," Durbin concluded.
The Committee also considered the nominations of Charnelle Bjelkengren, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Washington; Matthew P. Brookman, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Indiana; Robert Kirsch, to be United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey; and Orelia Eleta Merchant, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York.
Video of Durbin's questions in Committee is available here.
Audio of Durbin's questions in Committee is available here.
Footage of Durbin's questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.