An openly gay general counsel at Cablevision and the Monroe County district attorney have been nominated for U.S. District Court slots in New York by President Barack Obama.
J. Paul Oetken, senior vice president and associate general counsel of Cablevision Systems Corporation, has been nominated for the Southern District bench, while Monroe County District Attorney Michael Green has been nominated for the Western District.
If Mr. Oetken’s nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he will fill one of seven current openings in the Southern District, which has 28 active judgeships.
The court’s vacancy list grew on Dec. 31, when Judges Jed. S. Rakoff and Victor Marrero took senior status, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
In November, Mr. Obama nominated Vincent L. Briccetti, a partner at Briccetti, Calhoun & Lawrence in White Plains, for another Southern District opening.
Mr. Oetken, 45, was recommended in September by Senator Charles Schumer after Mr. Obama rejected the senator’s recommendation last February of Daniel S. Alter, a civil litigator at Alter & Alter who also is gay (NYLJ, Oct. 29, 2010).
At the time, Mr. Schumer, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, touted Mr. Alter’s recommendation as “history making” since the attorney could have become the first “openly gay male judge in American history.”
But the White House never nominated Mr. Alter after two sets of remarks were attributed to him concerning his rejection of “Merry Christmas” as a holiday greeting and the use of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Alter has denied making both remarks.
Mr. Oetken joined Bethpage-based Cablevision, one of the nation’s largest telecommunications, media and entertainment companies, in 2004. Before that he had worked since 2001 at Debevoise & Plimpton, first as an associate and then as counsel.
From 1999 to 2001, Mr. Oetken served as an associate counsel at the White House, where he specialized in First Amendment issues, appointments, ethics and civil rights.
A former clerk of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Mr. Oetken also served for two years as an attorney-advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Justice Department. He earned his law degree in 1991 from Yale Law School.
Mr. Green, 49, is a veteran prosecutor who was first elected as district attorney in 2003. He joined the office as an assistant district attorney in 1987 and was promoted to first assistant district attorney in 2001.
A 1986 graduate of the Western New England College School of Law, Mr. Green manages a staff of more than 80 prosecutors and 140 employees in the Rochester-based office.
In a statement posted yesterday on his website, Mr. Schumer, who also recommended Mr. Green, called the district attorney “an outstanding, moderate and supremely professional figure in law enforcement for more than two decades; he has a top-notch legal mind and will make a superb addition to the bench.”
There was no statement posted on Mr. Schumer’s website about Mr. Oetken’s nomination, and a Sept. 23 statement announcing the senator’s recommendation of Mr. Oetken had been removed.
A call to Mr. Schumer’s press office in Washington, D.C., was not returned.
Messrs. Oetken and Green declined to comment on their nominations.
According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, in addition to the seven Southern District openings there is one opening each in the Eastern, Northern and Western districts.
If confirmed, Mr. Green would fill the Western district slot. And Mae A. D’Agostino, a partner at D’Agostino, Krackeler, Maguire & Cardona in Albany, has been nominated for the Northern District.
There are also two openings at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Susan L. Carney, deputy general counsel of Yale University, has been nominated for one of the slots.
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