- A Senior Litigation Counsel at the Justice Department, he may have investigated a number of people in President Trump’s inner circle who are under scrutiny.
President Trump has nominated Vijay Shanker as Associate Judge to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. If confirmed by the Senate, Shanker would serve as Associate Judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which is the highest court for Washington, D.C.
Shanker currently serves as Senior Litigation Counsel in the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section in the Department of Justice. In that capacity, he investigates and prosecutes violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related offenses and advises attorneys and leadership on a range of legal issues and litigation matters. In that position he may have investigated a number of people in President Trump’s inner circle who are under the department’s scrutiny. Shankar is also the deputy chief of the Appellate Section.
According to his profile on the Judicial Nomination Commission, Shanker has briefed and argued almost 60 federal appeals, including four en banc rehearings (en banc is where a case is heard before all the judges of a court rather than by one judge or a panel of judges selected from them). He has briefed criminal issues ranging from Fourth Amendment search and seizure to sentencing to criminal forfeiture.
From October 2012 to February 2014, Shanker served in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, first as senior counsel and then as acting deputy chief of staff and counselor to the Assistant Attorney General.
Before joining the Department of Justice in 2012, Shanker was in private practice with the Washington, D.C., offices of Mayer Brown, LLP, and Covington & Burling, LLP. Upon graduation from law school, he served as a law clerk to Judge Chester J. Straub on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Shanker earned his B.A., cum laude, from Duke University and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as a notes editor for the Virginia Law Review and was inducted into the Order of the Coif.
He was awarded the Roger & Madeleine Traynor Prize for “the graduate who has produced the best written work” and also the Law School Alumni Association Best Note Award. He is also the recipient of Attorney General’s John Marshall Award, the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, and the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service.
President Trump’s Appointees
Shanker is among several Indian Americans who have been nominated by Trump, or are already serving in the judiciary.
In March 2019, Trump appointed Neomi Rao to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to replace Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She became the second Indian American appointed to the court, the first being Sri Srinivasan, a President Obama appointee, who is the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the nation’s second most powerful court.
Rao is receiving criticism for her June 24 order for a trial judge to dismiss the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. The order exonerates Flynn, one of Trump’s top aides, nearly three years after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI regarding his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Another Trump appointee is conservative judge Amul R. Thapar of Kentucky to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thapar was confirmed in 2017 by a 52-44 vote, making him the second South Asian-American judge in U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Last month, Trump nominated Saritha Komatireddy to serve as Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She currently serves as the deputy chief of general crimes in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Similarly, Shireen Mathews was nominated in September 2019 as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. India Abroad reported then that if confirmed, Matthews will be the first Asian Pacific American woman and first Indian-American to serve as an Article III federal judge in the Southern District.
Apart from Judge Srinivasan, other Obama appointees who are currently serving, include, Vince Chhabria, on the federal court for Northern California in San Francisco, and Amit P. Mehta, a judge on the District of Columbia Court, which is under the court of appeals to which Shanker has been nominated.