Prince George's prosecutor wins seat on federal bench

August 18, 1994|By Nelson Schwartz | Nelson Schwartz,Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON -- After enduring months of questioning about his qualifications, Prince George's County prosecutor Alexander Williams Jr. was confirmed by the full Senate last night for a seat on Maryland's federal bench.

Earlier this year, the American Bar Association said Mr. Williams was not qualified to serve as a federal judge, citing his lack of trial experience and poor legal writing. But members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously last week to approve Mr. Williams' nomination and criticized the ABA's rating process.

The approval by the full Senate came without opposition, making him Maryland's third black federal judge.

The controversy over the nomination prompted charges by some supporters that the ABA's opposition stemmed from racial bias. But Mr. Williams said he bore no ill will toward the ABA.

"I harbor no bitterness toward anyone," said Mr. Williams after the vote. "I'm moving on and preparing for the awesome challenge of this assignment."

Mr. Williams has received strong support from Maryland Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, as well as the NAACP and minority bar groups, since his nomination by President Clinton last August.

"I'm elated and happy this is finally over," Mr. Williams said. "This has been difficult. . . . The good news is that so many rallied on my behalf. I'm very grateful that Senator Sarbanes and the White House stuck with me."

In addition to working as the Prince George's County state's attorney since 1987, Mr. Williams has served as an adjunct law professor at Howard University.

"Patience is a very important virtue for a judge, and I've learned a lot about patience," Mr. Williams said. He expects to be sworn in by the end of the month.

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