Michael Watson

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Michael Watson
Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #2
Appointed by:   George W. Bush
Active:   9/10/2004 - Present
Preceded by:   James Graham
Personal History
Born:   1956
Hometown:   Akron, OH
Undergraduate:   Ohio State U., B.A., 1983
Law School:   Capital U. School of Law, J.D., 1987
Military service:   U.S. Air Force, 1975 - 1978; Ohio Air National Guard 1978 - 1984

Michael Watson is an Article III federal judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. He joined the court in 2004 after being nominated by President George W. Bush.

Early life and education

A native of Ohio, Watson graduated from Ohio State University with his bachelor's degree in 1983 and graduated from Capital University School of Law with his J.D. in 1987. Watson has also served in the United States Air Force from 1975 to 1978 and the Ohio Air National Guard from 1978 to 1984.[1]

Professional career

  • 1994-1995: Chief Legal Counsel
  • 1992-1994: Deputy Chief Legal Counsel

Judicial career

Southern District of Ohio

On the recommendation of Ohio Senators Michael DeWine and George Vonovich, Watson was nominated by President George W. Bush on April 6, 2004 to a seat vacated by James Graham as Graham went on senior status. Watson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 7, 2004 on a Senate vote and received commission on September 10, 2004.[1]

Notable cases

Circulator employer identification deemed constitutional (2014)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Libertarian Party of Ohio, et al. v. Husted, 2:13-cv-953)

On March 7, 2014, Secretary of State Jon Husted indicated that he had removed the Libertarian Party's statewide candidates from the party's primary ballot (including gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl). Husted claimed that the paid petitioner who gathered signatures on behalf of the Libertarian Party failed to identify his or her employer on the petition.[2] The Libertarian Party filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent Husted from printing the primary ballots without the names of the party's statewide candidates. The party argued that prior precedent prevented the Secretary of State from disqualifying candidates on the grounds that Husted disqualified the party's 2014 statewide slate. The Libertarian Party further contended that it is unconstitutional to require a circulator to identify his or her employer or to treat a paid circulator differently from a volunteer circulator.[3] Watson scheduled a hearing on the matter for March 11, 2014.[4] On March 19, 2014, Watson ruled that the circulator law is indeed constitutional, thereby reaffirming Husted's decision to remove the Libertarian candidates form the ballot. As of March 20, 2014, the Libertarian Party and the impacted candidates had filed notice of appeal.[5] If the Libertarian Party fails in its effort to overturn Husted's decision, the party will lose its status as a qualified political party in the state of Ohio.[2]

Residency requirement for political petition circulators blocked (2013)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Citizens in Charge, Inc., et al and Libertarian Party of Ohio, et al v. Husted, 2:13-cv-00935)

On November 13, 2013, Judge Watson granted a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of Ohio's Senate Bill 47, a measure which sought to prohibit non-residents from collecting political petition signatures, except in the case of presidential candidates. S.B. 47 was signed into law by Ohio Governor John Kasich in March 2013, and enacted as of June 2013. In the underlying case, separate suits were filed in September 2013 by conservative and libertarian political groups, each contesting the constitutionality of the bill as a violation of their First Amendment rights. In his decision granting the preliminary injunction, Watson noted that S.B. 47 not only "substantially burdens core political speech," but that "it is well-established that even a temporary violation of First Amendment rights constitutes irreparable harm."[6]

Dismissal of Plavix antitrust case (2010)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (In re: Plavix Indirect Purchaser Antitrust Litigation, 1:06-cv-226)

On March 29, 2010, Judge Watson dismissed a case by Kroger, Inc., an Ohio-based grocery retailer, over antitrust issues with Plavix involving the drug's parent company, Bristol-Myers Squibb. Kroger alleged that Bristol-Myers made illegal deals over the drug Plavix by not marketing a generic version. Watson found that there was not enough evidence to move the case forward, noting specifically that Kroger's injury was "speculative," and that the grocery store had "fail[ed] to demonstrate that the alleged antitrust violation was a necessary predicate of [its] injury."[7][8]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
James Graham
Southern District of Ohio
Seat #2
Succeeded by:

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