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Obama taps Chicagoans to be federal judges

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Below, releases from Sen. Dick Durbin, White House on President Obama's nominations to the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois, Sharon Coleman and Gary Feinerman. The court sits in Chicago.


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that President Obama has nominated the first two individuals to fill five pending vacancies on the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois: Sharon Coleman and Gary Feinerman.

"Sharon Coleman and Gary Feinerman will each bring a great depth of experience and legal ability to the bench," said Durbin. "I was honored to recommend their names to President Obama, and am pleased that he has nominated them to fill two of the five vacancies in the Northern District of Illinois."

In April of last year, Durbin established three bipartisan screening committees to assist in selecting Federal District Court Judges, U.S. Attorneys, and U.S. Marshals for Illinois. The screening committees were comprised of 22 distinguished Illinoisans drawn from various aspects of the legal profession and include former judges, prominent litigators, law professors, bar association leaders, former prosecutors and defenders. Former federal judge and Illinois Congressman Abner Mikva chaired the Northern District Screening Panel.

Members of the screening committees met throughout the spring and early summer, reviewing applications and references, and conducting interviews. The screening committees recommended the names of several individuals for each vacancy. Durbin reviewed the screening committees' recommendations, conducted interviews of finalists, and last fall, in consultation with members of the Illinois Congressional delegation, submitted the names of seven individuals to the President, who made the final decisions on today's nominees. The names submitted were: Edmond Chang, Sharon Coleman, Susan Cox, Thomas Durkin, Gary Feinerman, Mary Rowland and Maria Valdez. The other five individuals are still under active consideration, and the White House hopes to make further announcements in the coming weeks.

Once the President submits a nomination to the U.S. Senate, it will be reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Senator Durbin is a member and the nominee will ultimately receive a vote in the committee. If approved by the Judiciary Committee, the nominee will then receive a vote by the full Senate.

A biographical description of the nominees follows:

Names for District Judge

Sharon Coleman. Judge Coleman serves on the Illinois Appellate Court, following her election in 2008. She served as a judge on the Circuit Court of Cook County from 1996-2008. Before that, she was a supervisor in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois. She has served on the boards of numerous bar associations and public interest organizations, she has received a Woman of Excellence award from the Chicago Defender, and she has served as a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow. She is a graduate of Washington University law school in St. Louis.

Gary Feinerman. Mr. Feinerman has been a partner at Sidley Austin in Chicago since 2007. From 2003-2007, he served as Illinois's Solicitor General, and before that he was a partner at Mayer Brown in Chicago. He has argued numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, and Illinois Supreme Court. He served as a judicial law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and to 7th Circuit Judge Joel Flaum in Chicago. He has served on numerous boards and is the president of the Appellate Lawyers Association of Illinois. He has also served as a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow, and he received a "Forty Under Forty" designation from Crain's Chicago Business. He graduated from Stanford Law School, finishing with the second highest grade point average in the class.

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Office of the Press Secretary



February 24, 2010

President Obama Nominates Three for District Court Bench

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, President Obama nominated Justice Sharon Coleman and Gary Feinerman to serve on the United States District Court Bench for the Northern District of Illinois and William J. Martínez to serve on the United States District Court Bench for the District of Colorado.

President Obama said, "Throughout their long and impressive legal careers, Sharon Coleman, Gary Feinerman, and Bill Martínez have distinguished themselves as some of our nation's best and brightest. I am honored to nominate them for the District Court Bench, and am confident they will approach the job with the utmost integrity and impartiality."

Justice Sharon Johnson Coleman: Nominee for the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois

Justice Sharon Johnson Coleman sits on the Illinois Appellate Court in Chicago, a position she has held since 2008. From 1996 until 2008, Justice Coleman served as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Between 1993 and 1996, she held the position of Deputy State's Attorney and Bureau Chief for the Public Interest Bureau of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. From 1989 to 1993, Justice Coleman served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois. From 1984 until 1989, she was an Assistant State's Attorney in Cook County. Justice Coleman received her J.D. in 1984 from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and her B.A. in 1981 from Northern Illinois University.

Gary Scott Feinerman: Nominee for the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois

Gary Scott Feinerman is a partner in the Chicago office of Sidley Austin LLP, where he practices in the general litigation and appellate practice groups. He received his B.A., summa cum laude¸ from Yale College in 1987 and his J.D. from Stanford, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and the Law Review, in 1991. After law school, Feinerman clerked for Judge Joel M. Flaum of the Seventh Circuit and for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States. After his clerkships, Feinerman worked in the Justice Department's Office of Policy Development (now known as the Office of Legal Policy). From 2003- 2007, Feinerman served as Solicitor General of Illinois, where he received Best Brief Awards from the National Association of Attorneys General in each year from 2004-2007.

William J. Martínez: Nominee for the United States District Court, District of Colorado

William "Bill" Martínez has been a partner at McNamara, Roseman, Martínez and Kazmierski in Denver, Colorado, since 2001. Between 1997 and 2001, he was a sole practitioner in Denver. Mr. Martínez served as the Regional Attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 1992 to 1996 at its Denver district office. He was an associate with Pendleton and Sabian in Denver between 1988 and 1992. From 1980 to 1987, he worked as an attorney for the Legal Assistance Foundation in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Martínez is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He received a B.S. and a B.A. from the University of Illinois in 1977 and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1980.


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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 24, 2010 5:15 PM.

Michelle Obama on "food deserts" was the previous entry in this blog.

President Obama official schedule and guidance, Feb. 25, 2010. Bipartisan health care meeting is the next entry in this blog.

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