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By Megan Dooley
Two attorneys from Oak Park and River Forest have been recommended to President Barack Obama for consideration for federal judgeships — that would be two of just five total Chicago-area lawyers being put forward. The five candidates are up for appointment to one of three vacant federal court seats for the Northern District of Illinois.
River Forest resident Julie Bauer was one of four attorneys recommended by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin for a judgeship. Oak Parker John Tharp was recommended by Senator Mark Kirk.
Bauer, an 11-year resident of River Forest, is a partner at Chicago's Winston & Strawn law firm, where she's worked since 1987.
"I am very honored to be considered for this important position," Bauer said of the nomination.
In a press release posted on his website, Durbin praised the screening committee responsible for reviewing each candidate's application, and said the four attorneys chosen are all highly qualified for the judgeship. "After meeting personally with the recommended applicants, I am honored to forward the names of four well-qualified individuals with proven track records to President Obama. Each of them would make an excellent nominee for federal district court judge if selected," read a statement from Durbin.
Tharp, an Oak Park resident for more than 20 years, has been a partner at Mayer Brown law firm since 1999, two years after he began working at the firm. He was the only judgeship candidate recommended by Kirk.
"I was very honored," Tharp said, upon hearing the news. "I'm happy to be the one that the senator has recommended."
"It's time to put Illinois corruption and Blagojevich-style politics behind us," read a statement by Kirk, in a press release posted on the senator's website. "As a prosecutor and a lawyer, John Tharp is uniquely qualified to both serve as a federal judge and to send a signal that Illinois is not synonymous with corruption.
Both Bauer and Tharp said that beyond their reactions to the news of their nominations, there's not much they can say about the recommendations. Both said they cannot comment on the process, or on the other attorneys recommended for the judgeship.
But in terms of background, both attorneys have had rich legal careers to prepare them for a potential judgeship.
Bauer graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1985, after which she began a two-year clerkship for Hon. Charles Kocoras in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In 1987, she joined Winston & Strawn.
In 2006, Bauer was a member of the defense team for former Chicago Governor George H. Ryan, who was arrested and eventually imprisoned for corruption. In May of this year, she was elected second vice president of the 7th Circuit Bar Association.
Bauer said she's not sure when the final decision will be made, but she's grateful to have made it this far in the process.
"I thank the senator and his selection committee for considering me qualified for it," said Bauer of the federal judgeship.
Tharp, a former captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, graduated from Northwestern University Law School in 1990 and subsequently clerked for Judge Joel Flaum on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. "He has been a great help to me throughout my career," Tharp said of Flaum. It was at Flaum's encouragement that Tharp moved on from the clerkship to a job in the U.S. Attorney's office in the Northern District of Illinois as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. He left that job in 1997 to join Mayer Brown.
Tharp said that the application process for the federal judgeship, which was overseen by an advisory board selected by Kirk, has been ongoing for months. He said that he was happy to hear the results.
"It is a very big honor, and a big deal," said Tharp of being recommended for the judgeship. "I was very happy that the advisory board put my name forward to Senator Kirk and that he agreed with their recommendation and has passed it on to the President."