Obama nominates three to serve on Calif., N.C. federal courts

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- President Barack Obama made three nominations to two different federal courts Thursday, in an effort to fill three judicial emergencies.

A judicial emergency is defined as: any vacancy where weighted filings are in excess of 600 per judgeship; any vacancy in existence more than 18 months in which weighted filings are between 430 and 600 per judgeship; or any court with more than one authorized judgeship and only one active judge.

All three of Obama's nominees -- James Donato to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California; Judge Beth Labson Freeman to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California; and Jennifer Prescod May-Parker to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina -- would fill judicial emergencies.

In fact, May-Parker would fill a seat that has been vacant for nearly 2,800 days, according to the Alliance for Justice. The advocacy group keeps a running list of judicial vacancies without nominees.

"I am pleased to nominate these distinguished individuals to serve on the United States District Court bench," Obama said Thursday.

"I am confident they will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice."

Donato is a litigation partner in the San Francisco office of Shearman & Sterling LLP, where he has worked since 2009. His practice concentrates on antitrust litigation and class action lawsuits.

Previously, he worked at Cooley LLP from 1996 to 2009 and served as a deputy city attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney's Office from 1993 to 1996.

Beginning in 1990, he spent three years working as an associate at Morrison & Foerster LLP.

Donato received his law degree from Stanford in 1988. He received his A.M. from Harvard University in 1984 and his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1983.

Freeman has been a judge on the San Mateo County Superior Court since 2001 and was elected by her colleagues to serve as assistant presiding judge from 2009 to 2010 and presiding judge from 2011 to 2012.

Prior to her appointment to the bench, she was deputy county counsel at the San Mateo County Counsel's Office from 1983 to 2001.

She began her career by working at the law firms of Lasky, Haas, Cohler & Munter, from 1981 to 1983, and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, from 1979 to 1981.

Freeman received her law degree from Harvard in 1979 and her undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1976.

May-Parker currently serves as the chief of the Appellate Division at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of North Carolina, a position she has held since 2010.

She has served as an assistant U.S. attorney since 1999.

From 1998 to 1999, May-Parker worked as an assistant attorney general in the Civil Environmental Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice.

She began her career by serving as an assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney's Office from 1991 to 1998.

May-Parker received her law degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School in 1991 and her undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Geneseo in 1988.

Donato would fill a vacancy left by Judge James Ware, who retired in August 2012.

Freeman would fill a new seat on the California federal court, created in October 2011.

Meanwhile, May-Parker would fill Judge Malcolm Jones Howard's seat, which has been vacant since he semi-retired in December 2005.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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