Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, January 22, 2010


Page 1


Obama Nominates Two to District Courts in California


By a MetNews Staff Writer


President Obama has sent seven district court nominations to the Senate, including two in the Northern District of California.

The White House said Wednesday that the president renominated U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward Chen to the district court, and tapped Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Lucy Haeran Koh to join the federal bench.

If confirmed, Chen would fill a vacancy created by the resignation of District Judge Martin J. Jenkins, who joined the state Court of Appeal in 2008. Koh—a former assistant U.S. attorney in California’s Central District—would fill a vacancy created when Judge Ronald M. Whyte took senior status in 2009.

Obama first nominated Chen last August, but the nomination was returned when the Senate concluded its session at the end of the year. The Senate Judiciary Committee had given Chen its backing in October, but on a roll call vote of 12-7 that was split along party lines.

Chen was a civil litigator for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California Chapter from 1985 until he became a magistrate judge in 2001.

A graduate of college and law school at UC Berkeley, he clerked for U.S. District Judge Charles B. Renfrew of the Northern District of California and Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James R. Browning before spending three years as an associate at San Francisco law firm Coblentz, Cahen, McCabe & Breyer. Chen joined the State Bar in 1980.

Koh was appointed to the state bench by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008, and was previously a litigation partner in international firm McDermott Will & Emery’s Palo Alto office representing technology companies in patent, trade secret and commercial civil matters.

Before that, she was a senior associate at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati for two years, and an assistant U.S. attorney in the major frauds section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District from 1997 to 2000. From 1996 to 1997, Koh was a special assistant to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General in Washington, D.C., and she was special counsel for the Justice Department from 1994 to 1996.

A graduate of college and law school at Harvard University who joined the State Bar of California in 1997, Koh is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California. She is also one of a string of high-profile Asian Americans the current adminstration has nominated to the district court in California.

The Senate in December voted to confirm the nominations of then-Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen and attorney Dolly Gee to the Central District, making them the first Vietnamese American woman and first Chinese American woman, respectively, to serve as a U.S. district judge.

Had Chen’s prior nomination succeeded, he would have become the first Asian American judge to sit on the Northern District, but that distinction could now go to Koh if the Senate confirms her nomination first.

Obama is also reportedly considering nominating Goodwin H. Liu—a UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law associate dean and constitutional scholar—to one of two vacant seats on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Liu is a former O’Melveny & Myers appellate litigator in Washington, D.C., who clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, before joining Berkeley’s faculty in 2003.

The White House on Wednesday also said it had sent the Senate nominations for one district judgeship each in Wisconsin and Missouri, and three in Indiana.

Obama named former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis B. Butler Jr. to a seat on that state’s Western District, and tapped U.S. Magistrate Judges Audrey Goldstein Fleissig of the Eastern District of Missouri and Jane E. Magnus-Stinson of the Southern District of Indiana for elevation in their respective districts. He also nominated Indiana state judge Tanya Walton Pratt for a seat on that state’s Southern District, and named former U.S. Attorney Jon E. DeGuilio to a spot on the state’s Northern District.

In other news, the president on Wednesday named six U.S. attorneys in Kentucky’s Eastern and Western Districts, Louisiana’s Western District, Missouri’s Eastern District, New York’s Eastern District and West Virginia’s Southern District; and five U.S. marshals in the districts of Idaho, Hawaii and Nevada, and the Western districts of Michigan and North Carolina.

Obama also named three assistant attorneys general—including renominating Dawn Elizabeth Johnsen, whose prior nomination to head the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice was returned to the president by the Senate in December—and nominated an associate judge for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.


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