Terrence O'Brien

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Terrence O'Brien
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Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Title:   Senior Judge
Appointed by:   George W. Bush
Active:   4/16/2002 - 4/30/2013
Senior:   4/30/2013 - Present
Preceded by:   Wade Brorby
Succeeded by:   Gregory Alan Phillips
Past post:   Sixth Judicial District Court of Wyoming
Past term:   1980-2000
Personal History
Born:   1943
Hometown:   Lincoln, NE
Undergraduate:   University of Wyoming '65
Law School:   University of Wyoming Law '72

Terrence O'Brien (b. 1943) is a federal judge serving on senior status for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He joined the court in 2002 after being nominated by President George W. Bush. Prior to nomination, O'Brien served as a judge on the Sixth Judicial District Court of Wyoming. He assumed senior status on April 30, 2013.[1]

Early life and education

Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, O'Brien graduated from the University of Wyoming with his bachelor's degree in 1965 and later from the University of Wyoming Law School with his Juris Doctor degree in 1972. O'Brien was a member of the United States Army, Ordinance Corps from 1966-1969.[1]

Professional career

O'Brien was a Staff Attorney in the Environment & Natural Resources Division, Appellate Section of the United States Department of Justice from 1972 to 1974. O'Brien entered private practice in Wyoming from 1974 to 1980. He served as District Judge for the Sixth Judicial District Court of Wyoming from 1980-2000.[1]

Judicial career

Tenth Circuit

O'Brien was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit by President George W. Bush on September 4, 2001 to a seat vacated by Wade Brorby as Brorby assumed senior status. O'Brien was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 15, 2002 on Senate vote and received commission on April 16, 2002.[2] On April 30, 2013, Judge Terrence O'Brien assumed senior status for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit after serving on the court for nearly 20 years.[3]

Notable cases

Oklahoma Sharia Law temporary injunction (2012)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Awad v. Ziriax, et al, 10-6273)

On January 10, 2012, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals released an anticipated ruling. The decision by the panel of Judges Terrence O'Brien, Scott Matheson and Monroe McKay, upheld a previous ruling by Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, out of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, that said Oklahoma's "Sharia Law" ballot measure was unconstitutional. Supported by 70% of the state's population in 2010, the amendment prohibited courts in the state from considering international or Sharia law in deciding cases.[4]

The Tenth Circuit Court disagreed with the supporters of the amendment, who insisted that the measure was intended to disallow courts from considering any religious law in their proceedings. As a response, the opinion states, "That argument conflicts with the amendment's plain language, which mentions sharia law in two places.[5]

Because the amendment was thought to discriminate against a specific religion, in this case, Islam, strict scrutiny was applied to judging its contents. Courts often utilize a higher level of scrutiny when it is concerned a minority is being unfairly treated.[4]

See also

External links


Political offices
Preceded by:
Sixth District of Wyoming
Succeeded by:
Michael N. Deegan
Preceded by:
Wade Brorby
Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by:
Gregory Alan Phillips