President nominates gay judge to U.S. District Court

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inthecourts

In the courts… A judicial nomination

President Barack Obama nominated William L. Thomas, an African-American gay judge, for the U.S. District Court. The president also nominated Valerie E. Caproni, Kenneth John Gonzales, Raymond P. Moore, Beverly Reid O’Connell, Analisa Torres and Derrick Kahala Watson for District Court judgeships.

“These individuals have demonstrated the talent, expertise, and fair-mindedness Americans expect and deserve from their judicial system," the president said in a statement issued Nov. 14. “They also represent my continued commitment to ensure that the judiciary resembles the nation it serves.  I am grateful for their willingness to serve and confident that they will apply the law with the utmost impartiality and integrity.  Too many of our courtrooms stand empty.  I hope the Senate will promptly consider all of my nominees and ensure justice for everyday Americans.”

Thomas is the nominee for the Southern District of Florida. He  has served in Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit since 2005, where he has presided over both civil and criminal matters. For seven years, from 1997 to 2005, he served as an assistant federal public defender in the Southern District of Florida, where he represented indigent clients in federal criminal cases.

Thomas began his legal career as an assistant public defender in the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office in 1994. He received his law degree in 1994 from the Temple University School of Law and his bachelor’s in 1991 from Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania.

Caproni is the nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She is vice president and deputy general counsel at Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Previously, she served for eight years as general counsel of the FBI and worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the New York State Urban Development Corporation and the law firms of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Cravath, Swaine & Moore.  She began her legal career by clerking for the Judge Phyllis Kravitch of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Kenneth John Gonzales is the nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.

He currently serves as the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico, a position he has held since 2010. Gonzales spent 11 years working in the same office as an assistant U.S. Attorney.

In 2001, he was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. He presently holds the rank of major in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps and is a JAG adjunct professor of criminal law.

From 1996 to 1999, Gonzales worked as a legislative assistant for U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman. He began his legal career clerking for the Joseph Baca, chief justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, from 1994 to 1996. 

Raymond P. Moore is the nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. He currently serves as the federal public defender for the districts of Colorado and Wyoming, a position he has held since January 2004.

Previously, he was an assistant federal public defender in Colorado from 1993 through 2003.

From 1986 through 1992, Moore worked at the law firm of Davis, Graham & Stubbs in Denver, Colorado, becoming a partner in 1987.

Beginning in 1982, he spent four years as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Colorado.

Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell is the nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

She currently serves as a Superior Court Judge for Los Angeles County in California, a position she has held since 2005. For a five-month period in 2010 and 2011, she sat by designation on the California Court of Appeals for the Second District, Division 8, and has since served as assistant Ssupervising Judge of the North Valley District of the Superior Court.

Prior to becoming a judge,  O’Connell served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California from 1995 to 2005.

From 1990 until 1995, she worked at the law firm Morrison & Foerster, where she handled a variety of civil litigation matters. 

Judge Analisa Torres is the nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

She currently serves as a justice of the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, where she has handled criminal felony cases since 2010. 

Torres served as an acting justice of the same court in Bronx County from 2004 to 2009. From 2003 to 2004, she was a judge on the New York Civil Court and from 2000 to 2002 she was a judge on the New York Criminal Court.

From 1992 to 1999, Judge Torres clerked for the Elliot Wilk of the New York State Supreme Court.  She also served on the New York City Planning Commission from 1993 to 1995. 

Derrick Kahala Watson is the nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii.

He has been an assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Hawaii since 2007, and has served as chief of the civil division since 2009.

Previously, he worked at the San Francisco law firm of Farella Braun + Martel LLP, where his practice focused on product liability, toxic tort, and environmental cost recovery litigation. 

Watson was an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of California from 1995 to 2000, serving as deputy chief of the civil division from 1999 to 2000.