Puryear, general counsel for Corrections Corp. of America, was the subject of an intense lobbying effort that eventually doomed his nomination.
The spot that is open on the U.S. District Court has been publicized not because who was once in the seat, but who was nominated for it - Gus Puryear
Puryear, who is the executive vice president and general counsel for Nashville based Corrections Corporation of America, was nominated for the bench by President George W. Bush in June of 2007.
did get a nomination hearing, the U.S. Senate
, which has final say on these lifetime appointments, never voted on his
Puryear's nomination suffered from negative press reports about his
ties to Belle Meade Country Club
as well as the alleged practices of CCA
in its prisons.
was also targeted by an organization opposed to prison privatization.
The Florida group had ties to organized labor that represents state corrections officers.
Traditionally, when openings for a federal judgeship occur, the U.S.
Senators from that state tell the president whom they want and he
Yesterday, Lamar Alexander, the lead water-carrier for judicial nominee Gus Puryear
, read the campaign its last rites.
Alexander's statements are the last nail in the coffin for Puryear, lead counsel for private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America.
They're also an unofficial acknowledgment of the power of the one-man campaign.
No matter where your loyalties lie, it's tough to argue that anyone deserves more of the credit (or blame) for Puryear's
failed nomination than Alex Friedmann.
Nominations of two Tennesseans - Gus Puryear of Nashville to be a federal judge and Susan Williams of Knoxville to be a TVA board member - have been derailed by political squabbles.
Several prison rights and civil rights groups have objected to the nomination of Puryear, general counsel for Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison giant based in Nashville.
had been hammered by allegations of underplaying serious incidents in its jails and misrepresenting the circumstances of in-custody deaths.
Democrats opposed both -- Puryear
was caught in an election-year political fight.
Republicans have tried to gain approval for as many of Bush's nominees as possible before the end of his
In response to Alexander's comments, Puryear
released a written statement through CCA
was an unqualified, inexperienced, conflicted and controversial nominee for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.
The nominations of Gus Puryear of Nashville to be a federal judge and Susan Williams of Knoxville to the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority are dead for this year, Sen.
"That's not going to happen," Alexander said at a briefing with Tennessee reporters, referring to the nomination of Puryear
for a federal judgeship in the Middle District of Tennessee.
The nomination by President Bush of Puryear, general counsel for Corrections Corporation of America, had been criticized by prison rights and civil rights organizations because of his role in representing the largest private prison company in the country.
issued a statement through CCA
realizes this is a lame duck year in politics," he
"Gus Puryear is a qualified nominee who deserves an up-or-down vote in the Senate, and we're continuing to pursue every option to that end," Sen.
CCA spokesman Steve Owen, responding to a request for Puryear to comment, said the company has "no way of knowing what the outcome of the confirmation process will be.
We continue to believe that Mr. Puryear
would make an excellent federal judge.
has served the company admirably and with great integrity as general counsel.
The Judiciary Committee
held a hearing on Puryear's nomination in February but has not scheduled a vote on whether to send his
name to the full Senate for a vote.
Reasons cited by opponents as to why Puryear
should not be confirmed include: a lack of trial and judicial experience, his role as chief lawyer for the country's largest private prison company, and the company's handling of the 2004 death of Estelle Richardson while she was in the Metro Detention Facility in Nashville.
A series of articles by the New York Times
have Washington, D.C. insiders saying that Gus Puryear
should keep his
Puryear, executive vice president and general counsel for Nashville based Corrections Corporation of America, was nominated by President George W. Bush last year to serve on the U.S. District Court for Middle Tennessee.
Since the nomination, Puryear
has been attacked here and in Washington for everything from his handling of CCA legal matters, his membership in the Belle Meade Country Club
, to his lack of experience outside of corporate law.
Republican insiders acknowledge that the articles have made Puryear's
bid "more complicated" and there is no momentum to push him forward at this time.
While the articles don't mention Puryear
by name, CCA
is sharply criticized for their handling of the death of Boubacar Bah and the labeling of his
inmate file as "proprietary information - not for distribution.
Bah was 52-year-old tailor from Guinea who had overstayed a tourist visa.
While incarcerated, Bah had fallen and hit his
head and became incoherent.
According to the NYT, "documents detail how he
was treated by guards and government employees: shackled and pinned to the floor of the medical unit as he
moaned and vomited, then left in a disciplinary cell for more than 13 hours, despite repeated notations that he
was unresponsive and intermittently foaming at the mouth.
was eventually transported to a hospital, but his
family was not notified of his
whereabouts for five days.
He died four months later.
In his April 16 letter, which Pith obtained this morning, Turner mentions the Time magazine story that alleges CCA counsel Gus Puryear allegedly whitewashed incident reports on escapes and unnatural deaths, so as not to alarm the company's clients.
Add women's rights groups to the list opposing the federal judicial nomination of Gus Puryear IV, the embattled general counsel for the Corrections Corporation of America.
Puryear's membership to Nashville's Belle Meade County Club
is under fire by the women's rights organization who say women are unable to vote or hold office at the private golf club.
National Organization of Women
, the National Council for Women's Organizations
and the Women's Equal rights Legal Defense and Education Fund have sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee
Puryear's nomination ignited a debate whether the general counsel of CCA
, the for-profit prison giant, is suited for the bench in light of allegations that he
encouraged misleading incident reports.
Private Corrections Institute
, an advocacy group that opposes prison privatization, has been an outspoken critic of Puryear's nomination.
The Alliance for Justice
and the National Lawyers Guild
are among the opposition.
There's also a website, www.againstpuryear.org, is part of the opposition campaign.
The hearings were held last month and the committee has not voted on his
President Bush nominated Puryear last June to serve as a federal judge for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Now, though, the Richardson case has taken center stage in the nomination hearings of Gus Puryear, the CCA general counsel who was nominated by President George W. Bush to a federal judgeship in Tennessee's Middle District.
The Senate Judiciary Committee
has grilled Puryear
statements about the case-he falsely claimed the guards were "exonerated"-and how his
company handled the investigation.
First, there's the issue that, no matter how you look at it, Richardson was almost certainly killed in a CCA facility, which Puryear
glosses over in his correspondence with members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
In fact, Puryear
death out to be a veritable mystery, even though it's ludicrous to imagine how someone could break their skull and crack their ribs by simply slipping on the floor.
So if-and we're using the word "if" lightly here-she was killed in jail, that doesn't reflect well on CCA
Then, of course, there's McGuire's fresh anecdote about the supposedly malfunctioning camera, which makes you wonder if CCA
took an awkward stab at a cover-up.
CCA and Puryear are already under fire for last week's Time.com report, in which a former prison manager accused the company of lying to its government clients about the safety of its prisons.
Is there a pattern here?