What inspired you to become a lawyer?
It’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment, but I found myself drawn to the law during college.
I’m the first in my family to attend law school, and I didn’t have any lawyer role models while growing up.
My parents were my biggest inspiration. They supported me at every turn in my education and they encouraged me to pursue whatever would best use my gifts and would bring me fulfillment.
They never pushed me toward a legal career; I just happened to enjoy the law-based classes that I took during college and I decided to attend law school on the theory that my love for studying the law would translate to a love for practicing it.
Who inspired you to become an appellate judge?
During my second summer in law school, I interned for Judge Jeffrey Sutton on the 6th Circuit. I was awestruck as I watched him wrestle with, and carefully decide, one of the most difficult cases of his judicial career.
That’s where my journey to the appellate bench started. My three years clerking for Judges Harvey Schlesinger and Jennifer Walker Elrod then solidified my interest in the appellate bench.
Who or what inspires you now?
I’m blessed to have a lot of inspiration in my life. As for “who”: Christ and His saints.
My beautiful wife, Christine, and our three amazing kids. Our friends and family.
As for “what”: the Constitution of the greatest country the world has ever known.
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice on the appellate bench?
I majored in criminology, but I’d have more use for the theories of crime and punishment were I charged with imposing sentences rather than merely reviewing them.
During my six months on the bench, I’ve drawn more on my philosophy minor. My philosophy courses taught me how to ask the right questions to get to the truth. I think that’s a necessary skill for any appellate practitioner or judge.
How do you relate your prior professional experience to your practice on the appellate bench?
Everything I’ve done in my legal career—from my judicial clerkships, to my service in state and federal government, to my pro bono work for a nonprofit law firm—has helped prepare me for my current role.
If I had to focus on something, it would be my service as a Florida deputy solicitor general. In that position, I was privileged to work alongside the best appellate lawyers in the state.
From them, I learned how to think and write clearly, to find the law and to faithfully apply the law to the case in front of me.
If you weren’t an appellate judge what do you think you would be?
I’d be pretty happy as a law enforcement park ranger with the National Park Service, especially if I could get stationed in the Tetons or the Great Smokies.
If you could meet someone from history, who would it be and why?
Saint Paul, so I could hear him describe his incredible journey from persecutor to evangelist to martyr.
What’s your favorite food?
Nothing can beat the pistachio baklawa made by the Ladies Guild of Holy Transfiguration Melkite Greek-Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia.
If you ever have a chance to swing by their annual Middle Eastern food festival, you should go and try it.