Korean American lawyer John Z. Lee, 44, has been nominated for a federal judgeship in Illinois by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin. Lee and four others are currently being considered for the three vacant seats at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, reports the Chicago Tribune. The three candidates to be selected by President Obama must also be confirmed by the Senate before their official appointment.
According to the Korea Herald, Lee was born in Germany and raised in Chicago, graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1992. Lee has served as a trial attorney at the Department of Justice and as a special aide to the Attorney General. He is now a partner at Freeborn & Peters LLP.
If appointed, Lee will become the third Korean American federal judge, after Herbert B. Choy and Lucy Koh.
Now this is progress! Lucy Koh was nominated by President Obama for a federal judgeship in California’s Northern District Court. This would make her the very first Korean-American federal judge in the U.S.
“Judge Koh brings a wide range of experience — not only as a judge but as a federal prosecutor and a litigator in private practice,” said U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who recommended Koh’s nomination.
Although relatively new to the state court bench — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her in 2008 — Koh has an extensive background in federal practice as a lawyer, working as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and Washington. Koh also was a partner at the McDermott, Will and Emery law firm in Palo Alto, representing technology companies in patent, trade secret and commercial civil cases.
Her husband, Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, a Stanford law professor, is a top adviser on immigration issues to President Barack Obama.
Before her state court appointment, Koh was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California from 1997 to 2000. Previously, she served as special assistant to the U.S. deputy attorney general in Washington, D.C., and special counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice.