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Anchorage attorney, nominated by Trump, withdraws from federal judgeship

WASHINGTON — Anchorage attorney Jonathan Katchen has withdrawn from his nomination to be a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for Alaska.

President Donald Trump nominated Katchen, 43, to the position in April, choosing one of five names submitted by Alaska Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.

But he faced opposition from within the Alaska Bar Association and a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing never made it on the books, despite a process that stretched back to late autumn 2017.

"And there was uncertainty about whether or not I'd make it through, and so it was time to… fish or cut bait. I was sitting in limbo for too long and didn't like the uncertainty," Katchen said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Katchen notified the White House of his decision in July, he said.

The Anchorage-based attorney had a few inside tracks: He previously worked for Sullivan at the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and he clerked for the president's sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry. He is currently an attorney at the Anchorage office of Holland & Hart, where he focuses on oil and gas law.

Not everyone was pleased with Katchen's nomination to the court, which carries a lifetime term. He reportedly ranked low in an attorney poll produced by the Alaska Bar Association but kept private at the request of the senators' offices.  Opposition stemmed from his age and experience; Katchen's background is primarily in oil and gas law, without much trial or criminal law experience.

The American Bar Association had not yet released a rating of Katchen's qualification to serve on the federal court.

Katchen wrote several opinion pieces for Alaska Dispatch News, which can be found here.

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