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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

President Obama Nominates Four to Serve on the US District Court Bench

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, President Obama nominated Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, John Z. Lee, Judge George Levi Russell, IIIand John J. Tharp Jr. to serve on the United States District Court bench.

"These individuals have demonstrated the talent, expertise, and fair-mindedness Americans expect and deserve from their judicial system," said President Obama.  "I am grateful for their willingness to serve and confident that they will apply the law with the utmost impartiality and integrity."

Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California
Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel serves as a judge on the Superior Court of San Diego, a position he has held since 2007.  Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Curiel spent 17 years as a federal prosecutor.  He served as an Assistant United States Attorney, first in the Southern District of California, from 1989 to 2002, and later in the Central District of California, from 2002 to 2006.  While in the Southern District, Judge Curiel was Chief of the Narcotics Enforcement Section from 1999 to 2002, having previously served as Deputy Chief of that Section for numerous years.  He began his legal career in private practice, first at James, James & Manning from 1979 to 1986, and later at Barbosa & Vera from 1986 to 1989.  Judge Curiel received his J.D. in 1979 from the Indiana University School of Law and his B.A. in 1976 from Indiana University.

John Z. Lee:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
John Z. Lee is currently a partner at the law firm of Freeborn & Peters LLP in Chicago, Illinois, where he primarily handles complex federal civil litigation.  Before joining Freeborn & Peters LLP in 1999, Lee worked as an associate at Mayer Brown LLP from 1994 to 1996 and at Grippo & Elden LLC from 1996 to 1999.  Lee began his legal career as a trial attorney in the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the United States Department of Justice.  He received his J.D. in 1992 from Harvard Law School and his A.B. in 1989 from Harvard College.

Judge George Levi Russell, III:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
Judge George Levi Russell, III, is an associate judge on the Circuit Court of Maryland for Baltimore City, where he has served since 2007.  Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Russell served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Maryland on two different occasions.  First, from 1994 to 1999, he handled civil matters for the office and later, from 2002 to 2007, he was assigned to the criminal division and prosecuted federal crimes.  Judge Russell worked in private practice at the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos, PC from 2000 to 2002 and at Hazel & Thomas PC from 1992 to 1994.  He served as a law clerk to the Honorable Robert Bell of the Maryland Court of Appeals from 1991 to 1992.  Judge Russell received his J.D. in 1991 from the University of Maryland School of Law and his B.A. in 1988 from Morehouse College.

John J. Tharp Jr.: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
John J. Tharp Jr. is a partner and co-chair of the Securities Litigation and Enforcement Practice at the Chicago office of Mayer Brown LLP, where he has practiced since 1997.  From 1992 to 1997, Tharp served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois.  Previously, Tharp worked in private practice as an associate at Kirkland & Ellis from 1991 to 1992.  He began his legal career by serving as a law clerk to the Honorable Joel M. Flaum of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1990 to 1991.  Tharp received his J.D. magna cum laude in 1990 from the Northwestern University School of Law and his A.B. summa cum laude in 1982 from Duke University.  Prior to attending law school, Tharp served in the United States Marine Corps for five years.