On January 3, 2013, President Obama nominated Jill Anne Pryor to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. When confirmed, Pryor will serve in the seat vacated by Judge Stanley F. Birch, who retired on August 29, 2010. Pryor is currently a partner at Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, LLP, in Atlanta, Georgia, where she specializes in complex business litigation. Upon her nomination, President Obama noted that Pryor “has displayed exceptional dedication to the legal profession through her work,” and that “she will be a diligent, judicious and esteemed addition to the Eleventh Circuit bench.” ((White House Press Release, President Obama Nominates Jill A. Pryor to Serve on the US Court of Appeals (Feb. 16, 2012), available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/02/16/president-obama-nominates-jill-pryor-serve-us-court-appeals.))
Pryor was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1953. She received her B.A. from the College of William and Mary in 1985 and her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1988. During law school, Pryor served as Senior Editor of both the Yale Law Journal and the Yale Law and Policy Review.
After law school, Pryor clerked for Judge James Larry Edmondson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. She then joined Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore as an associate in 1989 and became partner in 1997. Pryor’s work at the firm is focused on business and commercial litigation, both at trial and on appeal.
Legal Experience and Expertise
Throughout her legal career, Pryor has developed an expertise in complex, “bet the company”-scale litigation. In McDavid v. Turner Broadcasting Inc., ((Civ. Action File No. 2005CV10192; 303 Ga. Ct. App. 593 (2010).)) for example, Pryor represented a Texas businessman who claimed that Turner Broadcasting breached their contract of sale for the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers sports teams, along with operating rights to Philips Arena. The litigation culminated in an eight-week trial in which Pryor helped secure a $281 million jury verdict in McDavid’s favor. Pryor also represented the community Hospital Authority of Rockdale County in a breach of contract action against several Goldman Sachs investment funds for damages of more than $20 million. ((Hosp. Auth. of Rockdale Cnty v. GS Capital Partners V Fund, L.P., Civil Action No. 09-CV-8716 (PAC) (D.D.N.Y. Jan. 20, 2011).)) Discovery remains ongoing, but the district court has denied Goldman Sachs’ motion to dismiss.
Pryor’s legal experience also includes extensive appellate advocacy, including arguing before the Georgia Supreme Court and the Eleventh Circuit. For example, in EnduraCare Therapy Management v. Drake, she successfully appealed a $7 million default judgment on behalf of EnduraCare. ((298 Ga. Ct. App. 809 (2009).)) To overturn the default judgment, Pryor faced the stringent standard of showing that, on their face, the pleadings affirmatively demonstrated that the plaintiff was not entitled to relief. Pryor also represented pawnbrokers before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court to resolve a conflict between Georgia’s criminal code and the state’s pawnbroker statute. ((Glinton v. And R. Inc., 271 Ga. 864 (1999), 173 F.3d 1352 (11th Cir. 1999), and 211 F.3d 586 (11th Cir. 2000).)) In that case, plaintiffs borrowed money from Georgia pawnbrokers at extremely high interest rates, and then sued the pawnbrokers for violating Georgia’s criminal usury statute. Pryor successfully argued before both courts that her clients’ high-interest loans were regulated only by the pawnbroker statute, and were therefore lawful.
Pryor’s legal career also includes extensive civil and criminal pro bono work. She has advised and assisted the Georgia Legal Services Program in its representation of farm workers alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and she has assisted a neighborhood association with legal issues regarding a land development proposal. Pryor has also represented prisoners in a number of appeals on appointment by the Eleventh Circuit.
Professional and Community Activities
Pryor is an active member of the Atlanta legal community. She served on the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers from 1995 to 2011, including a year as President of the Association in 2001. She has held multiple roles for the State Bar of Georgia since 2004, including as Chair of the Appellate Practice Section from 2006 to 2007, and currently as a member of the Board of Governors. Pryor is also a former member of the Lawyers Advisory Committee of the Eleventh Circuit, and a member of the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers. The Atlanta Bar Association’s Women in the Profession Committee gave Pryor the “Outstanding Women in the Profession Achievement Award” in 2006 for her contributions to empowering women in the legal profession.
Pryor currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Legal Services Program, is a member of the National Association of Women Lawyers and the American Association for Justice, and she served on the Legal Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia from 1995 to 2005.