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Above: Judge James A. Wynn, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

SMU Dedman School of Law was pleased to host Judge James A. Wynn, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit as part of the Alfred P. Murrah Lecture Series on Wednesday, March 30.

Judge Wynn spoke about the federal judicial selection process and its “humble beginnings.”

“The agreement among scholars is that framers of the constitution were principally concerned that judicial vacancies would be filled by the most qualified jurists,” he said. 

The roots of the judicial selection process, he said, come from a compromise of competing interests during the constitutional convention: those supporting the Articles of Confederation and the supporters of the Virginia Plan. As a result, the Constitution does not set forth any qualifications for judges in Article 3, which provides for the Supreme Court. 

“Indeed, the framers seemed more concerned with who should appoint the judges than who the judges happen to be,” said Wynn.

Judge Wynn received his J.D. from Marquette University Law School and his LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps as a captain from 1979 to 1983, and as a reserve captain from 1983 to 2009. He started a private practice when he entered the Navy Reserve; between 1990 and 2010, he was an associate judge for the North Carolina Court of Appeals and an associate justice for the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

Judge Wynn was also the chair of the Appellate Judges Education Institute during the transition to its new headquarters at SMU Dedman School of Law.