Local law expert reacts after Sen. Kennedy's questioning of judicial nominee goes viral

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Sen. John Kennedy is not shy about asking probing questions. And a video of his queries of federal judicial nominee Matthew Petersen went viral on the internet.

Petersen struggled to answer basic legal questions.

"Have you ever tried a jury trial?" asked Kennedy.

"I have not," answered Petersen.

"Civil?" Kennedy continued.

"No," Petersen answered.

"Criminal?" continued Kennedy.

The video was posted in a tweet by Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. In addition to putting up the video, he wrote: "Republican@Sen.JohnKennedy asks one of @realDonaldTrump's US District Judge nominees basic questions of law & can't answer a single one. Hoo-boy."

Petersen was nominated for the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C.

"Do you know what a motion in linime is?" was another Kennedy question.

"I would probably not be able to give you a good definition," answered Petersen.

"I think Sen. Kennedy was very dignified in asking the questions the way he did, and very effective in making the point that this nominee lacks the requisite experience for the position," said Dane Ciolino, a longtime Loyola University law professor.

Ciolino said he had no doubt that Petersen, who serves on the Federal Election Commission, is bright and competent, but he was unimpressed by his answers.

"Having absolutely no trial experience, either with bench trials or jury trials, and no basic understanding of some of the fundamental terms used in that sort of practice in those sorts of cases is somewhat troubling, and I think Sen. Kennedy was well within the bounds of what's appropriate to ask a candidate, a nominee for that position," said Ciolino.

And Sen. Kennedy has been deliberate in considering some other Trump nominees. His support for Kyle Duncan to join the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal in New Orleans was not immediate. Kennedy questioned Duncan in November after he said he received questions from Louisiana judges and lawyers about why Duncan, who graduated from LSU but works in Washington, should be considered for a judgeship in New Orleans over some Louisianians who expressed interest.

Kennedy eventually expressed support for Duncan.

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