Senate confirms defense attorney for Northern District Court of Ohio

The vote was 62 to 36.

Ahead of the vote, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who recommended Helmick, noted that Helmick's nomination had been pending for two years.

"For these two years Jeff Helmick has had his nomination placed on hold, at enormous political cost," Brown said ahead of the vote. "Helmick is not a partner at some big law firm where others can help him with or help take over his cases. Instead he's at a small firm where the clients are his own. As a result, his practice and his clients have been placed in limbo, not knowing when he will actually be confirmed. Now some two years later we can finally ensure that the District Court for the Northern District of Ohio finally has its vacancy filled."

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) urged the Senate to vote against Helmick's confirmation, citing Helmick's cases as a criminal defense attorney.

"I am concerned about Mr. Helmick's view of national security as evidenced by his handling of terrorism cases as a defense attorney," Grassley said. "In looking at the arguments he's made in representing terrorists I'm concerned that he believes terrorism cases are less serious than other criminal cases. And that in turn causes some concern about how he might handle some terrorism cases that may come before him if confirmed."

Responding to Grassley's criticism, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said that Helmick was simply doing his job as a defense attorney.

"Now, some have chosen to criticize him for his role as a court appointed defense attorney," Leahy said. "Well, anybody who makes that criticism obviously does not understand how our justice system works."

More in Senate

Senate confirms No. 2 Justice official

Read more »