Durbin Forwards Recommendations for Federal Judges in the Northern District to White House

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Based on recommendations made by a bipartisan screening committee, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today forwarded a list of names to the White House for consideration when filling vacant judgeships on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  Durbin forwarded the names of the following four individuals to President Obama for consideration: Julie Bauer, Edward Feldman, John Lee and Sheldon Zenner.


“Making recommendations to the White House on federal judges is one of the most important jobs I have as a U.S. Senator,” said Durbin. “The screening committee worked diligently to evaluate each application and recommend applicants they thought were particularly noteworthy.  After meeting personally with the recommended applicants, I am honored to forward the names of four well-qualified individuals with proven track records to President Obama.  Each of them would make an outstanding nominee for federal district court judge if selected.”


Durbin, who was first elected to the Senate in 1996, is the senior senator from Illinois.  The senior senator from the President’s political party has traditionally had the lead role in making recommendations to the President for the positions of Federal District Court Judge, U.S. Attorney, and U.S. Marshal in the senator’s home state. There are currently three judicial vacancies on the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 


During the Clinton Presidency, Durbin worked closely with Senator Peter Fitzgerald to ensure that highly qualified candidates for federal judgeships were recommended to the President with bipartisan support in order to secure their confirmation.  Before making recommendations to President Obama, Durbin consulted with Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) who has also made separate recommendations to the President.


“Without bipartisan effort in the Senate, it is very difficult to secure the confirmation of even the best qualified judicial nominees,” Durbin said.  “Senator Kirk and I will work together to ensure that these Northern District vacancies are filled without delay.”


Durbin’s screening committee was comprised of 10 distinguished Illinoisans drawn from various aspects of the legal profession including former judges, prominent litigators, bar association leaders, and former prosecutors and defenders.  Dick Devine, former Cook County State’s Attorney and current partner at the law firm of Meckler Bulger Tilson Marick & Pearson LLP, chaired the committee. 


The screening committee reviewed the applications, interviewed applicants and references, and recommended the names of several individuals to Durbin.   Durbin reviewed the screening committee’s recommendations, conducted interviews of the finalists, and – in consultation with Senator Kirk – submitted his recommendations to the President, who will make the final decisions on nominees.


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


Biographical descriptions of those recommended by Durbin today follow (all names are listed in alphabetical order):


Julie Bauer – Ms. Bauer is a partner at the law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP, where she has worked since 1987 and where she concentrates on civil litigation matters.  She graduated with distinction from the University of Virginia and magna cum laude from the University of Illinois College of Law.  She served as a law clerk for the Hon. Charles Kocoras of the Northern District of Illinois.  Bauer has served in numerous leadership capacities for the Chicago Bar Association and the Seventh Circuit Bar Association, and she received the 2009 Founder’s Award from the Chicago Bar Association Alliance for Women.  Ms. Bauer currently lives in River Forest.


Edward Feldman – Mr. Feldman is a partner at the Chicago law firm of Miller Shakman & Beem LLP where he has worked since 1988 and where he concentrates in civil litigation and professional responsibility matters.  He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Illinois and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.  He served as a law clerk to the Hon. Marvin Aspen of the Illinois Northern District.  He worked for two years as a clinical fellow at the Northwestern University Legal Clinic, and has served as an adjunct law professor at Northwestern since 1988.  He is a past Chair of the Chicago Bar Association Professional Responsibility Committee and is a past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  Mr. Feldman currently lives in Evanston.


John Lee – Mr. Lee is a partner at the law firm of Freeborn & Peters LLP where his practice concentrates on commercial litigation matters. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and cum laude from Harvard Law School.  He has previously worked as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice Environment & Natural Resources Division, and also worked at the law firms Mayer Brown and Grippo & Elden LLC.  He serves as the President of the Board of Directors of Asian Human Services of Chicago and the Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS), and he also serves on the Board of Directors of the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago.  Mr. Lee currently lives in Barrington.


Sheldon Zenner – Mr. Zenner is a partner at the law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, where he has worked since 1989 and where he specializes in commercial civil litigation and criminal defense.   Previously, he worked for eight years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois.  He graduated with honors from Northwestern University and cum laude from the Northwestern University School of Law.  He served as a law clerk for the Hon. Marvin Aspen of the Northern District of Illinois.  He previously served on the Practitioner Advisory Board of the United States Sentencing Commission and on the Board of Directors of the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. Mr. Zenner currently lives in Evanston.