Obama nominates three area judges, including one from Phila., to federal bench in eastern Pa.

By Jon Campisi | Nov 28, 2012

President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated three area judges, including a

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jurist, for seats on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Nitza I. Quinones Alejandro, who has been a judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas since 1991, overseeing both civil and criminal matters, as well as Berks County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl and United States Magistrate Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, who currently serves in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, were all nominated by the president to serve on the federal bench in Philadelphia, according to a statement from the White House.

“These men and women have had distinguished legal careers and I am honored to ask them to continue their work as judges on the federal bench,” Obama said in a statement. “They will serve the American people with integrity and an unwavering commitment to justice.”

Quinones Alejandro, the Philadelphia jurist, has worked as a staff attorney for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, as an attorney advisor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and as a staff attorney for Philadelphia-based Community Legal Services Inc., according to the White House.

Human Rights Campaign reported that Quinones Alejandro, if confirmed for federal judgeship, would be the first openly gay Latina judge to serve on the federal bench.

The judge is the eighth openly gay life-tenured federal court judicial nominee named by President Obama since he took office, according to Human Rights Campaign.

Quinones Alejandro is a native of Puerto Rico.

Schmehl, a state judge in Berks County, Pa. since 1998, has been a partner at the law firm of Rhoda, Stoudt & Bradley, served as the Berks County solicitor, and worked as an assistant Berks County district attorney and as a public defender in the same jurisdiction.

Felipe Restrepo has served as a U.S. magistrate judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania since 2006, where he has presided over both civil and criminal matters.

Prior to taking the federal bench, he was a partner with Krasner & Restrepo, served as an assistant federal defender in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, worked as an assistant public defender with the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and spent time as a law clerk at the National Prison Project.

All three judges would have to be confirmed by the United States Senate before they could take the federal bench.

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