NEW YORK, Aug 2 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on
Thursday nominated a veteran civil-rights prosecutor from the
Eastern District of New York for a judicial vacancy on the
Brooklyn federal court, according to a statement from the White
Pamela Ki Mai Chen would, if confirmed, be the second female
Chinese-American judge in U.S. history and among only a few
openly gay women on the federal bench, according to U.S. Senator
Charles Schumer, who recommended Chen.
She is currently chief of the criminal division in the civil
"Within the office, Pam is known for her outstanding
investigative and trial work in the areas of civil rights and
human trafficking," said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the
Eastern District of New York. "She is also someone that I rely
upon extensively for her deft touch in outreach to the many
different communities within our district. She is, quite simply,
the complete package."
Chen worked as an associate at Arnold & Porter and Asbill
Junkin Myers & Buffone after graduating from the University of
Michigan and Georgetown Law School in 1986. In 1991, she left
the private sector and joined the Department of Justice, where
she specialized in reforming state and local prisons, juvenile
detentions centers and facilities for the mentally ill and
developmentally disabled, according to Schumer.
In 1998, Chen began working for the U.S. Attorney's Office
in Brooklyn. Her work has focused on investigating and
prosecuting criminal civil-rights matters, including human
trafficking and hate crimes, according to the senator's office.
In 2008, Chen briefly left the Eastern District to serve as
deputy commissioner for enforcement at the New York State
Division for Human Rights, where she supervised attorneys on
cases involving discrimination in housing, employment and
Chen is representative of the diversity that Schumer and
Obama have pledged to bring to the New York federal judiciary,
said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond
School of Law who tracks judicial nominations.
"Obama has shattered all records in terms of diversity, both
as to ethnic diversity and LGBT diversity," he said.
But Tobias said that with more than 20 nominees awaiting
confirmation and an upcoming presidential election, Chen's
nomination could fall by the wayside, even if she draws
relatively few objections.
And if Obama loses, Chen's nomination would be withdrawn,
unless she is confirmed in a lame-duck session, he said.
"It really is contingent on what happens in the election,"
(Reporting by Jessica Dye)
Follow us on Twitter @ReutersLegal | Like us on Facebook