Durbin: White House Nominates First Two to Fill Federal Judgeships in Northern District

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that President Obama has nominated the first two individuals to fill five pending vacancies on the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois: Sharon Coleman and Gary Feinerman.


"Sharon Coleman and Gary Feinerman will each bring a great depth of experience and legal ability to the bench," said Durbin. "I was honored to recommend their names to President Obama, and am pleased that he has nominated them to fill two of the five vacancies in the Northern District of Illinois."


In April of last year, Durbin established three bipartisan screening committees to assist in selecting Federal District Court Judges, U.S. Attorneys, and U.S. Marshals for Illinois. The screening committees were comprised of 22 distinguished Illinoisans drawn from various aspects of the legal profession and include former judges, prominent litigators, law professors, bar association leaders, former prosecutors and defenders. Former federal judge and Illinois Congressman Abner Mikva chaired the Northern District Screening Panel.


Members of the screening committees met throughout the spring and early summer, reviewing applications and references, and conducting interviews. The screening committees recommended the names of several individuals for each vacancy. Durbin reviewed the screening committees' recommendations, conducted interviews of finalists, and last fall, in consultation with members of the Illinois Congressional delegation, submitted the names of seven individuals to the President, who made the final decisions on today's nominees. The names submitted were: Edmond Chang, Sharon Coleman, Susan Cox, Thomas Durkin, Gary Feinerman, Mary Rowland and Maria Valdez. The other five individuals are still under active consideration, and the White House hopes to make further announcements in the coming weeks.


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


A biographical description of the nominees follows:


Names for District Judge

Sharon Coleman. Judge Coleman serves on the Illinois Appellate Court, following her election in 2008. She served as a judge on the Circuit Court of Cook County from 1996-2008. Before that, she was a supervisor in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois. She has served on the boards of numerous bar associations and public interest organizations, she has received a Woman of Excellence award from the Chicago Defender, and she has served as a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow. She is a graduate of Washington University law school in St. Louis.


Gary Feinerman. Mr. Feinerman has been a partner at Sidley Austin in Chicago since 2007. From 2003-2007, he served as Illinois's Solicitor General, and before that he was a partner at Mayer Brown in Chicago. He has argued numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, and Illinois Supreme Court. He served as a judicial law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and to 7th Circuit Judge Joel Flaum in Chicago. He has served on numerous boards and is the president of the Appellate Lawyers Association of Illinois. He has also served as a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow, and he received a "Forty Under Forty" designation from Crain's Chicago Business. He graduated from Stanford Law School, finishing with the second highest grade point average in the class.