Biden Nominates Kelly Rankin As Wyoming’s Next Federal Judge

President Joe Biden has nominated U.S. Chief Justice Magistrate Kelly Rankin to replace Judge Nancy Freudenthal as a judge for the U.S. District Court of Wyoming.

Leo Wolfson

December 19, 20233 min read

Kelly Rankin
Kelly Rankin (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

There will likely be a new federal judge in Wyoming soon.

President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he’s nominating Chief Justice Magistrate Kelly Rankin to replace Judge Nancy Freudenthal for U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming.

Rankin has been the chief U.S. magistrate judge for the District of Wyoming in Cheyenne since 2012. The role of magistrate judge is a lower position within the federal court system, mostly limited to presiding over preliminary and discovery hearings.

Rankin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He previously served as criminal chief in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming from 2010-2012. Before that, Rankin served as counsel to former Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal in 2010 and as U.S. attorney for the District of Wyoming from 2008-2010.

Support From Former Governors

Dave Freudenthal, who is Judge Freudenthal’s husband, and former Gov. Mike Sullivan issued a joint statement Tuesday supporting the nomination.

“As the chief federal magistrate judge, Kelly Rankin has demonstrated judicial demeanor and good judgment, reflecting as well the ability to treat citizens and lawyers with respect and uniformly applying the rule of law with fairness,” the two Democratic governors said.

Prior to becoming U.S. attorney, Judge Rankin served as an assistant U.S. attorney and as the Park County attorney. The former governors complimented Rankin for exhibiting “a calm, caring and thoughtful attitude” in his professional and personal capacities.

Former Park County Judge Steve Cranfill was an attorney at the same time as Rankin in Park County. He also saw the work he did as a judge, and said he follows the law without any personal ego.

“He was first class,” Cranfill said. “He was a hard worker, very knowledgeable, very courteous.”

What’s Next?

Rankin’s nomination will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before he can take over the new role.

He was one of five judges Biden nominated to federal district courts Tuesday, all in Republican majority states. It’s his 43rd round of nominees for federal judicial positions, bringing the total number of his federal judicial nominees to 209.

Nancy Freudenthal announced her intention to retire in June 2021 after serving in the role since 2010. Since that time, she has been serving as a senior judge, which although typically a form of semiretirement, has still required a fair amount of work, Dave Freudnethal said.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter