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Press Release - President Biden Names Twenty-Sixth Round of Judicial Nominees

September 02, 2022

The President is announcing the nominations of eight new federal judicial nominees and his intent to nominate nine federal judicial nominees —all of whom are extraordinarily qualified, experienced, and devoted to the rule of law and our Constitution.

These choices also continue to fulfill the President's promise to ensure that the nation's courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country—both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds.

For example, if confirmed, this slate would include:

  • The first women of color to serve on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington and the first Black women to serve on a United States District Court in the state of Washington
  • The first South Asian judge to serve on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • The second Hispanic man to serve on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • The only LGBT Article III judge actively serving on the United States District Court for the Northern District of California

This is President Biden's twenty-sixth round of nominees for federal judicial positions and his thirteenth slate of nominations in 2022, bringing the number of announced federal judicial nominees to 143.

President Biden has spent decades committed to strengthening the federal bench, which is why he continues to move rapidly to fill judicial vacancies. And he has won confirmation of the most lower court judges for the first year of a presidency since the Kennedy Administration.

United States Circuit Court Announcements

1. Anthony Johnstone: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Anthony Johnstone is the Helen & David Mason Professor of Law and an affiliated professor of public administration at the University of Montana's Blewett School of Law, where he has taught since 2011. Mr. Johnstone has also worked as a solo practitioner at Johnstone PLLC since 2015. He previously served as the Solicitor for the State of Montana from 2008 to 2011. From 2004 to 2008, Mr. Johnstone served as an Assistant Attorney General at the Montana Department of Justice. From 2000 to 2004, he was a litigation associate at Cravath, Swaine, and Moore LLP in New York. He served as a law clerk for Judge Sidney R. Thomas on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Montana from 1999 to 2000. Mr. Johnstone received his J.D., with honors, from the University of Chicago in 1999 and his B.A. from Yale University in 1995.

United States District Court Announcements

1. Charnelle Marie Bjelkengren: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington – Intent to Nominate

Charnelle Marie Bjelkengren has served as a judge on the Washington State Superior Court since 2019. Judge Bjelkengren previously served as an administrative law judge for Washington State's Office of Administrative Hearings from 2013 to 2019. From 2001 to 2003 and from 2004 to 2013, she served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Washington State Attorney General's Office. Judge Bjelkengren received her J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2000 and her B.A. from Mankato State University (now Minnesota State University), cum laude, in 1997.

2. Gordon Gallagher: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Colorado

Gordon Gallagher has served as a part-time United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Colorado in Grand Junction since 2012. Judge Gallagher has also had his own solo practice since 2000, focused on criminal defense work in state courts. He previously served as Deputy District Attorney for the Mesa County, Colorado District Attorney's Office from 1997 to 2000. From 1996 to 1997, Judge Gallagher was an associate at Underhill and Underhill P.C. in Greenwood Village, Colorado. Judge Gallagher received his J.D. from the University of Denver College of Law in 1996 and his B.A. from Macalester College in 1991.

3. Jonathan J.C. Grey: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Jonathan J.C. Grey has served as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan since 2021. Judge Grey previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Ohio from 2016 to 2021 and the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan from 2012 to 2016. From 2011 to 2012 and 2007 to 2009, he was an associate at Seyfath Shaw LLP in Chicago, Illinois. Judge Grey served as a law clerk for Judge Damon J. Keith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from 2010 to 2011 and Judge W. Louis Sands on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia from 2009 to 2010. Judge Grey received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2007 and B.S. from Morehouse College in 2004.

4. Colleen Lawless: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois

Colleen Lawless has served as an Associate Judge for the Seventh Judicial Circuit in Sangamon County, Illinois since 2019. Judge Lawless was previously a shareholder at Londrigan, Potter & Randle P.C. in Springfield, Illinois from 2009 to 2019. Judge Lawless received her J.D. from Northern Illinois University College of Law in 2009 and her B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2005.

5. Orelia Merchant: Nominee for United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Orelia Merchant has served as Chief Deputy Attorney General for State Counsel in the New York State Attorney General's Office since 2019. Ms. Merchant previously served in the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York as an Executive Assistant United States Attorney from 2016 to 2019 and as an Assistant United States Attorney from 2002 to 2016. From 1998 to 2002, Ms. Merchant served as an Assistant Regional Counsel for the United States Environmental Protection Agency. From 2000 to 2001, she was detailed to the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. Ms. Merchant received her J.D. from Tulane University Law School in 1998, her M.A. in Marine Science from the College of William and Mary in 1995, and her B.S. from Dillard University in 1992.

6. P. Casey Pitts: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California

P. Casey Pitts is a partner at Altshuler Berzon LLP in San Francisco, California, where he has worked since 2009. Mr. Pitts was an associate at the firm from 2009 to 2017. He served as a law clerk for Judge Stephen Reinhardt on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2008 to 2009. Mr. Pitts received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2008 and his B.A. from Yale University in 2003.

7. Ramon Reyes: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Ramon Reyes has served as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York since 2006. Judge Reyes previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York from 1998 to 2006. From 1995 to 1998, he was a litigation associate at O'Melveny & Myers LLP in New York. He served as a law clerk for Judge David G. Trager on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York from 1994 to 1995. In 1993, Judge Reyes was a legislative attorney for the New York City Council. Judge Reyes received his LL.M. from New York University School of Law in 1993, his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 1992, and his B.S. from Cornell University in 1988.

8. Arun Subramanian: Nominee for United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Arun Subramanian is a partner at Susman Godfrey LLP in New York, where he has worked since 2007. Mr. Subramanian served as a law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court of the United States from 2006 to 2007, Judge Gerard E. Lynch on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York from 2005 to 2006, and Judge Dennis Jacobs on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 2004 to 2005. Mr. Subramanian received his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2004 and his B.A. from Case Western Reserve University in 2001.

Joseph R. Biden, Press Release - President Biden Names Twenty-Sixth Round of Judicial Nominees Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/357616

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