Obama nominates federal judge Lucy Koh to U.S. appeals court

Koh, of San Jose, worked as a partner in a Palo Alto law firm

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose was nominated by President Obama today to serve on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Koh, 47, has been a federal trial judge since 2010 and has handled cases concerning high-tech Silicon Valley companies such as Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Adobe Systems Inc.

She previously served as a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge for two years and before that worked as a partner in a Palo Alto law firm, a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and a U.S. Department of Justice lawyer in Washington, D.C.

"Judge Lucy Haeran Koh has distinguished herself as a first-rate jurist with unflagging integrity and evenhandedness," Obama said in a statement.

"I am grateful for her service to the state of California and look forward to adding her considerable wisdom and experience to the 9th Circuit Court," Obama said.

The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit hears appeals of federal civil and criminal cases from California and eight other western states. It is the nation's largest circuit court in terms of caseload, territory and population served.

Koh's nomination must be approved by the U.S. Senate. Obama's nomination of Koh to the U.S. District Court was approved by a 90-0 vote of the Senate in 2010.

Koh was appointed to Santa Clara County Superior Court in 2008 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, praised the nomination and said she hopes the Senate will move quickly on it.

"Lucy Koh is a highly respected member of the federal judiciary and will bring a wide range of experience to the 9th Circuit," Feinstein said in a statement.

If confirmed by the Senate, Koh would be the circuit court's first female Korean-American judge and the second Korean-American to serve on the panel.

The first Korean-American judge on the 9th Circuit was the late Herbert Choy of Hawaii, who served on the court from 1971 to 2004.

Koh's mother escaped from North Korea in 1945 by walking for two weeks into South Korea. Her parents later immigrated to the United States and Koh was raised in Mississippi, where her mother taught at a state university.

Koh received her undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University.

She is married to Mariano-Florentino Cuellar a former Stanford University law professor who was appointed to the California Supreme Court by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014.

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