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Tulane Law graduate Patricia Campbell-Smith named Federal Claims Court chief judge

October 22, 2013

Pioneering Women

Chief Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith (L ’92), new head of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith, a 1992 Tulane Law School graduate, has been elevated to chief of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, just a month after she was confirmed as a judge on that court.

Campbell-Smith had worked as a special master for the court for eight years before President Barack Obama nominated her in March for a 15-year term as a judge.

“I am proud to designate Judge Campbell-Smith to serve as chief judge on the United States Court of Federal Claims,” Obama said in an Oct. 21 announcement.  “She has a long and distinguished record of service, and I am confident she will serve with distinction.”

The Court of Federal Claims, which has 16 judges nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, primarily hears money claims founded on the Constitution, federal statutes, executive regulations or contracts with the United States. The court also handles vaccine compensation claims.
The largest categories of cases involve complex tax law issues; government contract disputes; takings cases raising environmental and natural resource issues; civilian and military pay questions; and claims against the U.S. regarding intellectual property and Indian tribes. The average claim is worth more than $1 million, according to the court’s website.

Campbell-Smith’s federal court experience includes clerkships for U.S. District Judges Martin Feldman (L ’57) and Sarah Vance (L ’78) and for Judge Emily Hewitt, former chief of the Court of Federal Claims.

In 2011-13, Campbell-Smith was the Federal Claims Court’s chief special master, presiding over litigation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Between clerkships, she worked at Liskow & Lewis in New Orleans, focusing on environmental regulatory law, patent infringement litigation and toxic torts.


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