Feinstein, Padilla Applaud Judges Confirmed to Federal Bench in 2021
Slate of diverse, qualified nominees includes five judges confirmed to fill California vacancies
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein (both D-Calif.), members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released the following statement on President Biden’s judicial nominees who have been confirmed by the Senate this year, including five judges confirmed to fill California vacancies on the federal courts:
“The slate of judges confirmed to fill California vacancies on the federal courts is proof that President Biden and Senate Democrats are keeping their promise to make the federal bench more representative.
“We have already confirmed five outstanding nominees to serve on California’s federal courts. Ten more have been nominated and are swiftly moving through the confirmation process. These judges will help alleviate the judicial emergency of the backlog of cases in California, particularly at the district court level.
“And we’re making similar progress throughout the country. In the past year, the Senate has confirmed more judges than the first year of any administration in the last 30 years. Additionally, the Senate has invoked cloture on two more California circuit court nominees and is expected to vote on their confirmation when it reconvenes in January.
“This highly qualified group of judges – diverse in both professional and personal experience – highlights the president’s and our commitment to strengthening our federal courts. Of the 40 judges the Senate has confirmed, 32 are women, 27 are people of color and 21 are women of color. The majority of the judges also come from diverse professional backgrounds like public defenders, consumer rights attorneys and public interest lawyers.
“We look forward to working with the White House in the upcoming session to confirm even more qualified judicial nominees.”
The Senate confirmed the following judges to fill California vacancies in the federal judiciary:
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:
Judge Lucy H. Koh: Prior to being confirmed, Judge Koh served as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of California since 2010. Prior to her confirmation as a federal judge, Judge Koh served as a California Superior Court Judge for Santa Clara County from 2008 to 2010. From 2002 to 2008, she worked as a partner in the Palo Alto, California office of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, where she specialized in patent, trade secret, and commercial civil litigation. From 2000 to 2002, she worked as a senior associate in the Palo Alto, California office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Before her time in private practice, Judge Koh spent seven years working for the U.S. Department of Justice. She served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California from 1997 to 2000; as Special Assistant to the Deputy Attorney General from 1996 to 1997; and as Special Counsel in the Office of Legislative Affairs from 1994 to 1996. She was awarded, among several recognitions, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Louis J. Freeh Award for Demonstrated Excellence in Prosecuting a Major Fraud Case. Judge Koh began her legal career as a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee from 1993 to 1994.
Judge Koh received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1993, and her B.A., magna cum laude, from Harvard University in 1990.
Central District of California
Judge Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong: Prior to being confirmed, Judge Frimpong served as a judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court since 2016. From 2015 to 2016, she served as Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. From 2007 to 2015, Judge Frimpong worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, serving in various positions, including as Counselor to the Attorney General, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, and other positions. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Judge Frimpong worked as an associate at Morrison & Foerster LLP in San Francisco from 2002 to 2007. Judge Frimpong served as a law clerk for Judge Stephen Reinhardt on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2001 to 2002.
Judge Frimpong received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2001 and her A.B., magna cum laude, from Harvard University in 1997.
Eastern District of California
Judge Jennifer L. Thurston: Prior to being confirmed Judge Thurston served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of California since 2009, and as Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge for the district since October 2020. She previously served as a Deputy County Counsel in Bakersfield, California from 1997 to 2009, where she handled civil matters, including litigation and appeals.
Judge Thurston received her LL.M from Duke University in 2018, her J.D. from California Pacific School of Law in 1997, and her B.S. from California State University in 1989.
Southern District of California
Judge Linda Lopez: Prior to being confirmed, Judge Lopez served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of California since 2018. From 2007 to 2018, Judge Lopez worked as a federal public defender in San Diego. From 2003 to 2007, Judge Lopez worked as a criminal defense attorney in Miami as a solo practitioner, where she served on the Criminal Justice Act Panel and represented indigent defendants in federal court on a court-appointed basis. Judge Lopez began her career as a criminal defense attorney in private practice from 1999 to 2003.
Judge Lopez received her J.D., magna cum laude and Order of the Coif, from the University of Miami School of Law in 1999 and her B.A., magna cum laude, from Florida International University in 1996. She also received her A.S. in 1994 and her A.A. in 1992, both from Miami Dade Community College.
Judge Jinsook Ohta: Prior to being confirmed, Judge Ohta served as a Superior Court Judge for the Superior Court in San Diego County since 2020. From 2011 to 2021, Judge Ohta worked in the Consumer Protection Section of the California Attorney General’s Office, first as Deputy Attorney General from 2011 to 2019 and then as a Supervising Deputy Attorney General from 2019 to 2020. Before joining the California Attorney General’s Office, Judge Ohta was an associate at the law firms Sheppard Mullin in San Diego from 2003 to 2006 and O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles from 2002 to 2003. Judge Ohta served as a law clerk for Judge Barry Moskowitz on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California from 2001 to 2002 and again from 2007 to 2008.
Judge Ohta received her J.D. from New York University School of Law in 2001 and her B.A., magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Yale University in 1998.
In addition, the Senate reached cloture on two additional California nominees and is expected to vote on their confirmation when the Senate reconvenes in January.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:
Justice Gabriel P. Sanchez: Justice Sanchez has served as an Associate Justice on the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District since 2018. Prior to being appointed to the bench, Justice Sanchez worked for seven years in California state government. From 2012 to 2018, he worked as Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary to Governor Jerry Brown and from 2011 to 2012, he worked as a Deputy Attorney General in the Correctional Law Section of the California Attorney General’s Office. Before his tenure in state government, Justice Sanchez was an associate at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP from 2006 to 2011, where he litigated a wide range of civil litigation matters at the trial and appellate levels. He also had an active pro bono practice and received the ACLU of Southern California’s Social Justice Award in 2010 for his efforts to enforce and improve heat illness safety protections for farm workers. Justice Sanchez served as a law clerk for Judge Richard A. Paez on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2005 to 2006.
Justice Sanchez received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2005; his M. Phil. in European Studies from the University of Cambridge in 2000; and his B.A., cum laude, from Yale College in 1998. Justice Sanchez was a Fulbright Scholar in 1999 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Judge Holly A. Thomas: Judge Thomas has served as a judge in the Family Law Division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court since 2018. Prior to being appointed to the bench, Judge Thomas was the Deputy Director of Executive Programs at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing from 2016 to 2018. From 2015 to 2016, Judge Thomas was a special counsel to the New York Solicitor General, and from 2010 to 2015, she was an appellate attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. As an appellate litigator, she represented clients on over two dozen cases before the federal courts of appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court, and in over a dozen matters before state courts. She has argued cases before the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth Circuits, as well as state appellate courts. In 2014, Judge Thomas was awarded the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service. From 2005 to 2010, Judge Thomas worked as an Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where she was a Liman Fellow from 2005 to 2006. Judge Thomas served as a law clerk for Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2004 to 2005.
Judge Thomas received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2004, and her B.A., with honors and distinction, from Stanford University in 2000.