Obama nominates 2 for appeals court openings

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President Barack Obama on Tuesday said he would nominate a pair of Northeastern judges to appeals court positions.

Judge Denny Chin, a district court judge for the Southern District of New York, and Rhode Island Superior Court Justice O. Rogeriee Thompson were tapped for positions. If confirmed by the Senate, Chin would serve as a judge in the 2nd Circuit, based in New York, and Thompson would serve in the Boston-based 1st Circuit.

“Judges Chin and Thompson have displayed exceptional dedication to public service throughout their careers,” Obama said in a statement. “They have served on the bench with distinction in New York and Rhode Island, and I am honored to nominate them today to serve the American people on the United States Court of Appeals.”

Chin was born in Hong Kong and moved to the United States at the age of 2. A Princeton University and Fordham Law School graduate, he clerked in the Southern District of New York and worked in private practice. He was an assistant U.S. attorney for four years before returning to private law.

When he was nominated and confirmed to his current position in 1994, he was the first Asian-American district court judge nominated outside the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit.

Thompson was born in Anderson, S.C., and earned degrees from Brown University and Boston University School of Law. She rose from staff attorney to chief litigation counsel for Rhode Island Legal Services. She then went into private law practice, focusing on Native American and civil rights law with her sister.

In 1988, she became the first African-American woman nominated to the Rhode Island District Court. She similarly was the first African-American woman elevated to the Rhode Island Superior Court, where she serves as an associate justice.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.