WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Feb. 25 announced the nomination of Judge Lucy H. Koh to serve on the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Judge Lucy Haeran Koh has distinguished herself as a first-rate jurist with unflagging integrity and evenhandedness,” Obama said. “I am grateful for her service to the state of California and look forward to adding her considerable wisdom and experience to the Ninth Circuit Court.”

Judge Lucy Koh
Judge Lucy Koh

If confirmed, Koh would become the first Korean American woman and the second Asian Pacific American woman to serve on a federal appeals court, and the fifth active APA federal appellate judge.

“We applaud the nomination of Judge Koh to serve on the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit,” said Jin Y. Hwang, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). “Judge Koh has demonstrated her ability as a fair and adept jurist in her almost six years on the federal bench, and we strongly encourage the Senate to confirm her to the Ninth Circuit.”

In 2010, Koh was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by a unanimous 90-0 vote. Her nomination received bipartisan support from California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, and Viet Dinh, former assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush.

Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Columbia, Md., Lorman and Vicksburg, Miss., and Norman, Okla., Koh received her B.A., magna cum laude, from Harvard University in 1990, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1993. She began her legal career as a women’s law and public policy fellow for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee from 1993 to 1994.

Following her fellowship, she worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, serving first as special counsel in the Office of Legislative Affairs, from 1994 to 1996, and then as special assistant to the deputy attorney general from 1996 to 1997. From 1997 to 2000, Koh served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, where she was awarded, among several recognitions, the FBI Director Louis J. Freeh Award for Demonstrated Excellence in Prosecuting a Major Criminal Case.

From 2000 to 2002, she worked as a senior associate in the Palo Alto office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. From 2002 to 2008, she worked as a partner in the Palo Alto office of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, specializing in patent, trade secret, and commercial civil litigation. In 2008, Gov. Schwarzenegger appointed her to the California Superior Court for Santa Clara County, where she served until she was appointed to the federal bench in 2010.

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