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President Barack Obama has pared the list of judicial candidates for the U.S. district court in his hometown to two Chicago lawyers and an Illinois appellate judge, according to the chief judge of that court. Judge Susan Coleman, Sidley Austin partner Gary Feinerman and Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym partner Mary Rowland all made the short list and are being screened by the American Bar Association, said James Holderman, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Holderman said he has been keeping tabs on the vetting of the candidates through the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. “We judges on the district court hope that President Obama will make nominations and the Senate will confirm his nominations to fill the current district judge vacancies in early 2010,” Holderman said in an e-mailed comment. White House assistant press secretary Benjamin LaBolt declined to comment on the latest list of candidates as did Kim Askew, a K&L Gates partner in Dallas who chairs the ABA standing committee. With four judgeship openings, the court in Chicago has more vacancies than any other federal district court. The openings were created by three judges taking senior status last year and a fourth, Mark Filip, resigning in February 2008 to take on the No. 2 post in the U.S. Department of Justice under then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey. In August, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., recommended seven candidates to the White House to fill the judgeships. Coleman was elected to the First District of the Illinois Appellate Court in 2008 after being a judge in Cook County Circuit Court for 12 years in the child protection and law divisions. Prior to becoming a judge, Coleman was an assistant state’s attorney and deputy state’s attorney in Cook County and an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago. Feinerman was Illinois solicitor general from 2003 to 2007 before joining Sidley, where he works on appellate cases, complex commercial litigation and products liability matters. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy from 1993 to 1994 and for 7th Circuit Judge Joel Flaum from 1991 to 1992. Following the clerkships, he served in the U.S. Department of Justice from 1994 to 1996, with a 1995 stint in the White House counsel’s office. He has also previously worked at Mayer Brown. Before joining Hughes Socol in 2000, Rowland was the chief appellate attorney in the Chicago office of the Federal Public Defender from 1995 through 2000. She had also served as a staff attorney in the office. Rowland now handles criminal defense and civil litigation matters, including employment and housing discrimination cases. Feinerman and Rowland declined to comment. Coleman didn’t return a call seeking comment. Durbin sent his list of recommendations to the White House before the fourth vacancy opened, but the list could be used to fill that post too. The other recommended candidates were Edmond Chang, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago who is chief of appeals in that office, Mayer Brown partner Thomas Durkin, and Northern District of Illinois magistrate judges Susan Cox and Maria Valdez.

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