Noted area attorney receives appointment to Safety Commission

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By Lynn Monson

Legal News

Lake Orion attorney Marietta Robinson says it's an honor to be nominated by President Obama for a position on the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but now she's on hold as the confirmation process moves through the Senate.

"I'm highly honored to have been nominated," she said in a phone interview. "I'm honored that the President has confidence in me, and I hope that the nomination process goes very quickly. I'm very excited about the position."

Robinson would join four other commissioners in overseeing the independent commission, which was created in 1972 to protect the public from injury and death caused by consumer products. With a budget of about $120 million and 575 employees, the commission today monitors more than 15,000 categories ranging from baby cribs to household chemicals.

Robinson's nomination must be approved by the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee before going to a vote of the full Senate. Committee leadership determines the procedures and timeline for the nomination, and that process has not yet been announced. In recent years, stalled nominations have become an issue for the Obama administration as nominees ranging from federal judges to seemingly uncontroversial bureaucrats have languished in the Congressional confirmation process.

Robinson would fill an opening created last fall by the resignation of Thomas H. Moore, a Democrat who had served on the commission since 1995. Other members are chairman Inez Tenenbaum, an Obama appointee who was South Carolina's State Superintendent of Education; Robert Adler, an Obama appointee who is a professor of legal studies at the University of North Carolina; Nancy Nord, a Washington, D.C., lawyer appointed by George W. Bush; and Anne Northup, a former Republican member of Congress from Kentucky.

In announcing the nomination of Robinson on Jan. 23, the White House noted her 33 years of experience as a trial attorney, "handling a wide variety of complex litigation for plaintiffs and defendents." It cited her work in 2011 as independent legal counsel to the Chair of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission in Liberia.

Robinson is a fellow of the International Society of Barristers, a position she has held since 1994, and she was its first female president from 2010 to 2011. For eight years she was a federally-appointed trustee of the Dalkon Shield Trust, which paid out about $2.4 billion to more than 300,000 women who had used the intrauterine device (IUD) around the world.

In 2009, Robinson was an appointed member of the Judicial Advisory Committee for the Eastern District of Michigan. From 1985-89, she served on the Michigan State Building Authority, and she has also served as a member of the Michigan State Bar Representative Assembly.

In 2000, Robinson was a Democratic candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court, losing to Clifford Taylor.

Known as Marti to friends and colleagues, Robinson grew up in Arbor Springs, earned her bachelor's degree with high distinction from the University of Michigan-Flint, and received her law degree from UCLA. She was married to James K. Robinson, the former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan and former dean of Wayne State University Law School who died in 2010.

Although the confirmation is handled in the Senate, U.S. Congressman John Dingell of Michigan was one of several members of the House Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee who wrote a letter January 31 to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to recommend quick confirmation of Robinson. They cited the importance of the commission's work and that it had not had its full complement of five members since late 2010.

Published: Tue, Feb 7, 2012