Obama Fills Three Federal Bench Vacancies

President Obama named three Pennsylvania Judges to the federal bench yesterday. All will serve, if confirmed by the senate, on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Two are from Philadelphia and the third from Berks County.  The White House provided these brief bios:

Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro currently serves as a Judge on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, where she has presided over both civil and criminal matters.  Prior to joining the bench in 1991, Judge Quiñones worked as a Staff Attorney for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs from 1979 to 1991 and as an Attorney Advisor for the United States Department of Health and Human Services from 1977 to 1979.  She began her legal career as a Staff Attorney for Community Legal Services, Inc. in Philadelphia from 1975 to 1977.  Judge Quiñones received her J.D. in 1975 from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law and her B.B.A. cum laude in 1972 from the University of Puerto Rico.

Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo has served as a United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania since 2006, where he has presided over a variety of criminal and civil matters.  Prior to taking the bench, Judge Restrepo was a named partner at the law firm of Krasner & Restrepo from 1993 to 2006.  Previously, he served as an Assistant Federal Defender in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 1990 to 1993 and as an Assistant Defender with the Defender Association of Philadelphia from 1987 to 1990.  Judge Restrepo began his legal career as a law clerk at the National Prison Project.  He received his J.D. in 1986 from Tulane Law School and his B.A. in 1981 from the University of Pennsylvania.

Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl has served as President Judge of the Berks County Court of Common Pleas since 2008, having joined the court as a judge in 1998.  Previously, Judge Schmehl was a partner at the law firm of Rhoda, Stoudt & Bradley from 1988 to 1997 and an associate at the same firm from 1986 to 1987.  For much of that time, Judge Schmehl also served as the Berks County Solicitor.  From 1981 to 1986, he was a sole practitioner in West Reading, Pennsylvania.  Judge Schmehl also served as an Assistant District Attorney in Berks County from 1981 until 1986 and as an Assistant Public Defender in the same jurisdiction from 1980 until 1981.  He received his J.D. in 1980 from the University of Toledo School of Law and his B.A. in 1977 from Dickinson College.

Being from Berks County I know Judge Schmehl.  He seems like a good guy even though he’s a registered Republican.  I know this because he told me so after I criticized the Berks County Democrats for supporting his bid for retention several years ago.  In Pennsylvania Judicial and school board candidates can cross file and run for office in both major parties.  Jeffrey Schmehl did this when he ran for Common Pleas Court and won on the Democratic side.  Thus he was the Democratic candidate even though he was actually a Republican.  Such are the quirks of politics in Pennsylvania.  I’m curious though why a Democratic President nominated him to the federal bench.

As President Judge he has done a good job, I think he’s a good guy.  I’m just wondering why Democrats keep supporting him.

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