Senate Confirms Tharp to Fill Federal Judgeship in Northern District

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the Senate has confirmed John "Jay" Tharp for a federal judgeship in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois. The Senate approved Tharp by a vote of 86-1.


Senators Kirk and Durbin have worked closely together since early 2011 to fill the two judicial vacancies in the Northern District of Illinois. Under Senate tradition for Illinois, the senator from the party not in control of the White House makes nomination recommendations to the White House for one federal district court judgeship for every three of the party in power. The arrangement is intended to ensure the orderly filing of federal judge vacancies on the Illinois bench. Under that tradition, Jay Tharp was the first recommendation by Senator Kirk. On May 7, the Senate voted to fill one of the vacancies for the Northern District, and confirmed John Lee. Senators Kirk and Durbin worked with each other to recommend both Jay Tharp and John Lee and today’s confirmation of Jay Tharp successfully concludes the process to fill the two vacancies.


“As a prosecutor and lawyer, Jay Tharp is uniquely qualified to both serve as a federal judge and to send a signal that Illinois is not synonymous with corruption,” Senator Kirk said.  “Jay Tharp made a name for himself as an Assistant U.S. Attorney whose cases included political corruption and money laundering.  His impressive tenure in that office includes service in the General Crimes Division and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Jay Tharp will be an outstanding addition to this federal bench. I want to thank Senator Durbin for his continued dedication and hard work to ensuring the Senate’s timely confirmation both Illinois’s nominees Jay Tharp and John Lee.” 


“Jay Tharp has the qualifications, temperament and integrity to serve the Northern District well,” said Durbin.  “Both he and John Lee, who was confirmed last week, will bring tremendous legal skill to the federal bench.  Their confirmations are a testament to the success of the bipartisan process that Illinois has in selecting judges.  I thank Senator Kirk for carrying on this tradition and I look forward to working with him to fill judicial vacancies in our state.”


Today’s confirmation is a result of the hard work of Senator Kirk's Judicial Review Advisory Board. In February 2011, Senator Kirk formed a bipartisan, statewide Judicial Review Advisory Board, which he charged with identifying “the strongest applicants from Illinois for consideration by the President and U.S. Senate.” 


The 14-member Advisory Board, chaired by Peter Baugher of Schopf & Weiss LLP, received nearly 50 applications. The Advisory Board spent over 300 man-hours and met five times to review judicial candidates. The Advisory Board’s review process included personal interviews as well as calls to colleagues, opposing counsel and judges.


Advisory Board members were: Peter Baugher, Chair (Schopf & Weiss LLP), Wayne Andersen (former federal judge), Keith Beyler (SIU Law School), Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL), James Buda (Caterpillar Inc.), Roxane Busey (Baker &McKenzie), James Figliulo (Figliulo & Silverman, P.C.), Victor Henderson (Holland & Knight), Larry Kuster (Rammelkamp Bradney P.C.), Lynn Mirabella (Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC), James Montana (VedderPrice PC), Jennifer Nijman (Nijman Franzetti LLP), Richard Porter (Kirkland& Ellis LLP), and Ronald Safer (Schiff Hardin LLP).


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, he was hired as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois.  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.  


Since leaving the U.S. Attorney’s office in 1997, Tharp has worked at Mayer Brown LLP, where he was made partner in 1999. He is currently co-leader of Mayer Brown’s securities litigation and enforcement practice.  Tharp was originally nominated for a federal judgeship in July 2008, however the Senate did not act on his nomination before adjournment.  Jay Tharp is married to Betsy Tharp and has 3 children, Matthew, Emily and Ellen.