Portman Introduces Judges Michael Newman, James Knepp & Philip Calabrese at Nomination Hearing to Serve on U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Northern Districts of Ohio

July 29, 2020 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC  Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced Judges Michael Newman, James Knepp, and Philip Calabrese at their Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing to serve on the United States District Courts for the Southern and Northern Districts of Ohio. Judge Newman, based in Dayton, currently serves as a federal magistrate judge in the Southern District of Ohio. Judge Knepp, an Ohio native, serves as a federal magistrate judge in the Northern District of Ohio. Judge Calabrese was appointed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to sit on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in June 2019. All three nominees were recommended through a bipartisan judicial commission and have the support of Senator Portman and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). 

A transcript of his remarks can be found below and a video can be found here. 

 “Thanks for inviting me to introduce these three distinguished Ohioans before the committee today. I appreciate their willingness to step forward. I just spoke to the three of them and told them that they’re exactly the kinds of people we’re looking for. They have pursued excellence throughout their careers and devoted much of their life to public service. I support their nominations and I certainly hope the committee will, as well. 

“Michael Newman has been nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Since 2011, Michael has served as a magistrate judge in the Southern District. Before going to the bench, he was a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl in Cincinnati, where he chaired the firm’s Labor & Employment Appellate Practice Group and where he created the firm’s pro bono appellate program.  He is an active member of the legal community and the local community. He was the first magistrate judge to be appointed national president of the Federal Bar Association, through which he helped create a national civics program to allow young people to meet with federal judges, including many young people in the Southern District of Ohio.  

“He has also started and now presides over the Southern District’s Veterans Treatment Court. I’ve had the opportunity to see that court in action. It has helped more than 70 veterans with PTSD and opioid addiction. People in Ohio who know Judge Newman can attest to his character – in fact, it was just recently announced that he’ll be receiving the Ohio State Bar Foundation’s Ritter Award. This is a lifetime service award given to one lawyer or one judge every year in Ohio. It’s a big deal. Judge Newman received his B.F.A. from New York University and his J.D. cum laude from American University’s Washington College of Law.  He was a law clerk to the Honorable Jack Sherman, Jr. on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District and the Honorable Nathaniel Jones on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He has served the community of Dayton with honor and distinction as a magistrate judge, and I’m confident he will do the same in this new role. 

“James Knepp is also with us today. He’s appearing remotely before the committee. The President nominated Judge Knepp to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Judge Knepp has served in his current role as a federal magistrate judge for a decade now. Before that, he practiced law for 15 years with the Toledo law firm of Robison, Curphey & O’Connell, where he served on the firm’s management committee. There, he had a substantial general litigation practice, including successful trial and appellate level defense of death and serious injury cases and class action litigation in federal and state courts.   

“Judge Knepp previously served as a law clerk for two years to the Honorable John Potter on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Judge Knepp is an Ohio native, earned his bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Mount Union College; his master’s degree from Bowling Green State University; and his law degree from the University of Toledo, summa cum laude, Order of the Coif, and as class valedictorian. I believe he will continue to impress us if confirmed to the bench by the U.S. Senate. 

“Finally, Phil Calabrese is with us. He’s being considered for another vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.  He hails from Cleveland, Ohio. He was appointed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to sit on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in June of 2019. Prior to taking the bench, he spent nearly two decades in private practice, most recently as a partner at Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur in Cleveland, where he gained extensive civil litigation and trial experience, including oral arguments before the Ohio Supreme Court and state and federal Courts of Appeals.  

“He also serves as an adjunct professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Judge Calabrese clerked for the Honorable Alice Batchelder on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross and his law degree from Harvard Law School. Judge Calabrese has been a dedicated public servant in the Cleveland community for many years now, and I know, if confirmed as a District Judge, he will serve in this new role just as admirably as he has in the past. 

“As I said, Mr. Chairman, these three distinguished court nominees before us are impressive. They were all recommended through a bipartisan judicial commission. I was pleased to work with Senator Brown, my colleague from Ohio, and members of our bipartisan commission to recommend these three distinguished nominees to the president. They were chosen out of dozens of other candidates, many of whom were very well-qualified themselves. I’m also very pleased and appreciate the fact that Senator Brown has supported these three candidates today. 

“These nominees are exceptional lawyers who have the experience and qualifications we are looking for in candidates to fill these important judicial roles. If confirmed, I really believe they’re going to serve Ohio and the federal bench with great honor and I am proud to support their nominations before this committee, and I urge all of you to do the same. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.” 

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