Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Page 1


Senate Confirms Lucy Haeran Koh as Federal Judge in California’s Northern District


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The U.S. Senate yesterday voted to confirm Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Lucy Haeran Koh as a U.S. district court judge for the Northern District of California.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s office said the Senate voted 90-0 in favor of Koh’s nomination.

Koh—a former assistant U.S. attorney in California’s Central District—is slated to fill a vacancy created when Judge Ronald M. Whyte took senior status last year.

Boxer lauded Koh’s “historic confirmation,” noting that Koh was set to become the first Korean-American U.S. district court judge in the country.

“Judge Koh’s sharp legal mind—and her background as a former federal prosecutor, a litigator in private practice and a Superior Court judge—will make her an outstanding addition to the federal bench,” Boxer said.

Former Litigation Partner

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 administration has nominated to the district court in California.

Asian-American Judges

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 U.S. district judge.

President Obama also named U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward Chen to a spot on the Northern District last year and the Senate Judiciary Committee gave Chen its backing in October, but on a roll call vote of 12-7 that was split along party lines.

Chen’s nomination was returned to the president when the Senate concluded its session at the end of last year, but Obama renominated Chen at the same time he nominated Koh in January. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Chen for a second time Feb. 4, again on a 12-7 vote.

Other Nominations

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. If confirmed, he would fill a vacancy created by the resignation of District Judge Martin J. Jenkins, who joined the state Court of Appeal in 2008.

Obama in February also nominated UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law associate dean and constitutional scholar Goodwin Liu to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Liu won approval on a 12-7 party-line vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 13 after weeks of delay on the vote by Senate Republicans.

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. If confirmed, he would fill a vacancy created by the creation of a new position on the court in January 2009. He would also be the sole Asian American sitting as an active judge on the Ninth Circuit.


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