Some Notable Obama Appointees

Judicature, May/June 2011 | Go to article overview

Some Notable Obama Appointees


Of the 59 lifetime lower federal court judges confirmed to courts of general jurisdiction, we offer here capsule biographies of some of the noteworthy appointees. Note that those profiled here were unanimously rated "Well Qualified" by die Standing Committee on die Federal Judiciary of die American Bar Association.

Irene Cornelia Berger, a native of Richmond, Virginia, received her undergraduate and legal training at West Virginia University. She worked as a county prosecutor for 12 years and had a brief stint as an assistant U.S. Attorney before ascending the state bench in 1994 as a Circuit Judge for Kanawha County. Although a Democrat, she has never been politically active. She was unanimously confirmed on October 27, 2009, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Denise Jefferson Casper was born in East Patchogue, New York, and was educated at Wesleyan and the Harvard Law School. She subsequently clerked at the Massachusetts Appeals Court before joining a prestigious law firm. She eventually left private practice to become an assistant U.S. Attorney, a post she held for over six years. She then joined the Middlesex District Attorney's office in 2007 where she served as deputy district attorney. She has no record of political activism. The first African-American woman named to a lifetime position on a federal court in Massachusetts, she was unanimously confirmed on December 17, 2010, to the federal district court for Massachusetts.

J. Michelle Childs was born in Detroit, Michigan, received her B.S. from the University of South Florida and her J. D. (and also a M. A. in business) from the University of South Carolina. She was in private practice for eight years and served in state government for six before ascending the state bench in 2006 as a circuit court judge. She has no record of political activity. She was unanimously confirmed on August 5, 2010, to the U.S. District Court for South Carolina.

Denny Chin is the first Asian American to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He was born in Hong Kong and raised in the United States. His undergraduate education was at Princeton and his legal training at Fordham Law School. Upon graduation from law school he served as a law clerk to federal district judge Henry Werker. He had experience as an assistant U.S. Attorney, and as a partner in a New York law firm before being appointed to the federal district bench in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. On October 6, 2009, he was nominated to the appeals court and on April 22, 2010, he was unanimously confirmed. Although a Democrat, he did not have a history of being politically active when he was in private practice.

William M. Conley was born in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and had his undergraduate and legal education at the University of Wisconsin. Upon graduating law school, he clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Fairchild for two years and then entered private practice where he remained until ascending the bench. He was listed in the Best Lawyers in America series. He was an active Democrat who did campaign work for Senator Russell Feingold. He was unanimously confirmed on March 4, 2010, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

Albert Diaz was born in Brooklyn, New York, did his undergraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania, and received his law degree from N.Y.U. He served as a prosecutor for the U.S. Marine Corps, worked in private practice, and in 2001 joined the North Carolina Superior Court. At the time of his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, he was a special superior court judge serving on the North Carolina Business Court. Although identified in the press as a Democrat, he had no record of being politically active. He was confirmed by voice vote on December 18, 2010, and is the first Hispanic American to serve on the Fourth Circuit.

Gary Scott Feinerman from Skokie, Illinois, did his undergraduate work at Yale and his legal training at Stanford. …

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