Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Appointments would diversity federal appeals bench

Obama nominates Thompson, Chin to U.S. Court of Appeals

St. Louis American staff

The federal bench will be significantly more diverse if two appointments announced Tuesday by President Barack Obama are confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Obama nominated Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and Judge Denny Chin for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Judge Thompson, an African-American woman, currently serves as an Associate Justice on the Rhode Island Superior Court. Judge Chin, an Asian-American man, currently serves as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York.

"Judges Chin and Thompson have displayed exceptional dedication to public service throughout their careers," President Obama said.

"They have served on the bench with distinction in New York and Rhode Island, and I am honored to nominate them today to serve the American people on the United States Court of Appeals."

In 1988, Judge Thompson became the first African-American woman to be nominated to the Rhode Island District Court, where she presided over state law criminal misdemeanors, civil actions with damages up to $10,000, and tax appeals.

In 1997, she was elevated to the Rhode Island Superior Court, where she currently serves. She was the first African-American woman on that court. As an Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Superior Court, Judge Thompson has original jurisdiction over all felony cases and civil actions, including those sounding in equity.

While on the bench, Judge Thompson chaired the Court’s Ad Hoc Task Force on Limited English Speaking Litigants, which was instrumental in the Superior Court establishing an Office of Court Interpreters to ensure that all limited English-speaking litigants have a fuller understanding of judicial proceedings. Judge Thompson is active in a wide variety of community and educational organizations. She is a Trustee of Brown University and of Bryant College.

In 1994, Judge Chin was nominated and confirmed to the U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York, where he currently serves. He was the first Asian-American appointed as a U.S. District Court Judge outside of the Ninth Circuit.

Judge Chin has served as an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law teaching legal research and writing since 1986. He is currently the treasurer for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Judicial Council, and he has served as the president of the Federal Bar Council Inn of Court and the President of the Asian American Bar Association of New York.

He also currently serves on the Boards of Directors for the Fordham Law School Alumni Association and the Fordham Law School Law Review Association and as the Co-Chair for the Fordham Law School Minority Mentorship Program.

Judge Chin is a member of the Federal Bar Council Public Service Committee, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Obama said of his nominees, "I am confident that they will be judicious and esteemed additions to the First and Second Circuits."

Their appointments must be confirmed by a majority vote in the U.S. Senate.

The 94 U.S. judicial districts are organized into 12 regional circuits, each of which has a United States court of appeals. A court of appeals hears appeals from the district courts located within its circuit, as well as appeals from decisions of federal administrative agencies.

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