The state's new chief appellate lawyer is as new to the Texas bar as he is to the job.
On Friday, Attorney General Greg Abbott appointed Jonathan Mitchell as solicitor general. Taking over from James Ho, who stepped down on Thursday, Mitchell is a 2001 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School. He has clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and 4th Circuit Judge Michael Luttig, and he also served in the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel. And as of Dec. 9, he's licensed to practice law in the state, the AG's office said.
As solicitor general, Mitchell will supervise all of the state's appellate litigation, a job that includes representing the state at the U.S. Supreme Court. According to his resume on the George Mason website, the former editor of the Chicago Law Review has argued three cases — two before the 9th Circuit and one before the 6th Circuit.
AG spokesman Jerry Strickland said Mitchell's appointment was the result of a national search: "With any important position here at the attorney general's office, we really search out the brightest talent regardless of proximity and ZIP code, and this was another perfect example of that."
Update: The State Bar of Texas' deputy executive director told Texas Lawyer this afternoon that its records don't officially show Mitchell as a member. He still has to "file his registration form and pay his fees" before being considered active, but the professional association did notify Mitchell on Dec. 9 that he met all the requirements for licensing under a rule that allows applicants with a valid, active license in another state to be admitted without having to take the Texas bar exam.
Earlier today, the AG's office declined the Texas Tribune's interview request with Mitchell, saying that he was busy settling into the job.