Durbin, Kirk Statement on White House Nominees to Fill Federal Judgeship in Northern District

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) today announced that President Obama has nominated John Lee and John Tharp to fill two vacancies on the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois.  The Senators released the following statement:


“We are pleased President Obama nominated John Tharp and John Lee to serve on the federal bench.  Both individuals are eminently qualified and we will work together to ensure their swift confirmation in the Senate.”


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. Following law school, Mr. Lee worked as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice Environment & Natural Resources Division, where he represented the United States in environmental cases before various federal courts. Upon entering private practice, Mr. Lee joined the law firm Mayer Brown, where he represented clients in complex environmental disputes. He later joined the law firm Grippo & Elden LLC, where he represented clients in a variety of complex litigation matters, including antitrust, intellectual property and class action cases. 


Mr. Lee serves as the President of the Board of Directors of Asian Human Services of Chicago, an organization that is focused on providing social services to recent Asian American immigrant communities in Chicago.  He also serves on the Board of Directors and was the past President of the Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS), the legal services “hotline” for Cook County that serves more than 50,000 low income clients every year.  He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago.  Mr. Lee and his family currently live in the Barrington area.


John Tharp

Tharp, age 50, attended Duke University on a ROTC scholarship and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps after graduating summa cum laude with a degree in political science. Tharp served in the Marine Corps from 1982 to 1988, achieving the rank of Captain and earning the Navy Achievement Medal and the Navy Distinguished Midshipman Award.  He subsequently attended Northwestern University Law School on a full merit John Henry Wigmore Scholarship.  While at Northwestern, Tharp served as book review editor of the Northwestern Law Review.  He graduated magna cum laude in 1990.  


Following graduation, Tharp served a one-year clerkship under Judge Joel Flaum of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals from 1990 to 1991.  In 1992, Tharp was hired as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois.  It was there that Tharp tried the cases of Rosewell and D’Arco.  Since leaving the U.S. Attorney’s office in 1997, Tharp has worked at Mayer Brown LLP, where he was made partner in 1999.  Tharp is currently co-leader of Mayer Brown’s securities litigation and enforcement practice.  Tharp was originally nominated for a federal judgeship in July 2008 but the Senate did not act on his nomination before adjournment. 


John Tharp is married to Betsy Tharp and has 3 children, Matthew, Emily and Ellen.  Tharp led the U.S. Attorney’s 1995 investigation of Edward Rosewell, the former long-time Cook County Treasurer who pled guilty to engaging in a ghost-payrolling scheme.  Tharp also handled the investigation and prosecution of extortion charges against former Illinois Senate Majority Leader John D’Arco.