Max O. Cogburn, Jr.

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Max O. Cogburn, Jr.
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #3
Station:   Asheville
Appointed by:   Barack Obama
Approval vote:   96-0
Active:   3/10/2011-Present
Preceded by:   Lacy Thornburg
Personal History
Born:   1951
Hometown:   Cambridge, MA
Undergraduate:   University of North Carolina, B.A., 1973
Law School:   Samford U. Cumberland Law, J.D., 1976

Max O. Cogburn, Jr. is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. He joined the court in 2011 after a nomination from President Barack Obama.[1]

Early life and education

Cogburn earned his bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1973, and his Juris Doctor from Samford University Cumberland School of Law in 1976.[1][2]

Professional career

  • Chief Assistant United States Attorney
  • Lead attorney, Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force
  • 1976-1980: Attorney in private practice, North Carolina[1][2]

Judicial career

Western District of North Carolina

Nomination Tracker
 Candidate:Max O. Cogburn, Jr.
 Court:Western District of North Carolina
 Progress:Confirmed 287 days after nomination.
ApprovedANominated:May 27, 2010
ApprovedAABA Rating:Majority Well Qualified, Minority Qualified
ApprovedAHearing:November 17, 2010
ApprovedAHearing Transcript:Hearing Transcript
ApprovedAReported:February 3, 2011 (December 8, 2010)
ApprovedAConfirmed:March 10, 2011
 Vote: 96-0

On May 27, 2010, President Barack Obama nominated Cogburn to the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina to replace Lacy Thornburg.[1][3]

Cogburn received a majority rating from the American Bar Association of "Well Qualified" and a minority rating of "Qualified." He had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 17, 2010, and you can find his Hearing transcript here.[4] He was moved out of committee on a voice vote on December 8, 2010.[5]

Cogburn's nomination was returned to the President at the end of the 111th Congress. President Obama resubmitted the nomination on January 5, 2011. Cogburn's nomination was confirmed by the Senate on March 10, 2011, by a vote of 96-0.[6]

Notable cases

Water contamination case allowed to move forward (2014)

     United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation v. Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC, 3:13-cv-00355-MOC-DSC)

On April 11, 2014, Judge Cogburn overruled with prejudice Magistrate Judge David Cayer's recommendation that a lawsuit filed by the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation (Catawba) against Duke Energy (Duke) over alleged coal ash contamination of a reservoir be dismissed.[7]

In the underlying case, Catawba filed suit against Duke in June 2013 over alleged pollution and water contamination caused by the Riverbend power plant. At or about same time, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources also filed suit against Duke over alleged contamination caused by fourteen power plants, including Riverbend. Suits filed by citizens are typically permitted under the Clean Water Act, so long as state authorities are not involved in enforcement actions on the same grounds.[7] In December 2013, Magistrate Judge Cayer recommended that Catawba's suit be dismissed, as the state was involved in a "diligent prosecution" of the same issues against Duke.[8]

Judge Cogburn overruled that recommendation, primarily because attorneys for Catawba claimed that the allegations brought by the environmental group were different from those of the state. In his opinion, Cogburn wrote:[7]

While the court does not disagree with the magistrate judge’s conclusion that the state is diligently pursuing a substantial action, the court is not yet certain that the requirements of [the exceptions to the citizen suit rule under the Clean Water Act] have been met.[9]

Cogburn further noted that the case should be dismissed if, and only if, the state and the federal Environmental Protection Agency joined forces to "enforce the same Clean Water Act standards which [Catawba] [sought] to enforce."[7]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Lacy Thornburg
Western District of North Carolina
Seat #3
Succeeded by: