Press Releases

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Four Nominees to Fill Federal Court Vacancies in California

- Senator Feinstein urges full Senate to quickly confirm nominees -

Washington, D.C. –The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved the nominations of four Californians to serve as U.S. District Court judges throughout the state.
They are:

  • California Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Nguyen to sit on the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles; 
  • U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward Chen to sit on the U.S. District Court in San Francisco;
  • Dolly Gee to sit on the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles; 
  • U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Seeborg to sit on the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is now urging the full Senate to swiftly confirm the nominees to help alleviate judicial caseloads in the nation’s federal courts.

“All of these judges are highly qualified and I believe they will bring significant and diverse experience to the federal bench,” said Senator Feinstein.   “I hope that the Senate will move expeditiously to confirm them.   The courts where these nominees will be sitting – in the U.S. District Courts for the Central and Northern Districts of California – have unacceptably high caseloads.   The confirmation of these four excellent nominees will be a first step toward ensuring that the courts are able to administer justice in a timely and appropriate manner.”

In California, three of the four federal districts are operating with caseloads well beyond the level recommended by the Judicial Conference. 

The Ninth Circuit has called judges in from across the region to volunteer to hear cases in California’s Eastern District, where the number of pending cases per judge exceeded 1,000 last year, and the number of filings per judge was more than 900.  This is more than twice the recommended number of cases per judge, according to the Judicial Conference. 

Confirmation of these nominees will result in several firsts: the first Asian American judge ever to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California; the first Vietnamese American woman to serve as a U.S. District Judge; and the first Chinese American woman to serve as a U.S. District Judge.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are among the fastest growing racial groups in the United States, yet of the nation’s 875 active Article III judges only eight are Asian American or Pacific Islander. If the nominees are confirmed, that number would rise to 11.

The four judges were selected by bipartisan advisory committees established by Senators Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in each of California’s four federal districts.  The committees carefully screened applications, interviewed applicants, and recommending finalists to the Senators. The Senators then forwarded their recommendations to President Obama who nominated the four judicial candidates.

Nominee Biographies

  • Judge Jacqueline Nguyen is currently a Superior Court Judge for the County of Los Angeles, a position to which she was appointed in August 2002. Judge Nguyen received her undergraduate degree from Occidental College in 1987 and her law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1991. From 1991 to 1995, Nguyen worked in private practice and specialized in civil litigation. From 1995 until August 2002, Nguyen was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California, serving as Deputy Chief of the General Crimes section. 
  • Judge Edward Chen currently serves as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California, a position he has held since 2001. Judge Chen received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1975 and his law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1979. After law school, he served judicial clerkships for U.S. District Judge Charles B. Renfrew for the Northern District of California and U.S. Circuit Judge James R. Browning of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. From 1982 until 1985, he worked as an associate at the San Francisco firm of Coblentz, Cahen, McCabe & Breyer. Between 1985 and taking the bench in 2001, Judge Chen worked as a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Northern California Chapter, where he was primarily engaged in civil litigation. 
  • Dolly Gee is a managing partner in the Los Angeles law firm Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers LLP, where she practices labor and employment litigation. She received her undergraduate degree from University of California, Los Angeles in 1981 and her law degree from UCLA Law School in 1984. After graduation, she clerked for Judge Milton Schwartz on the District Court for the Eastern District of California. She has worked as a Regional Coordinator for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, supervising delegate elections, and has been an arbitrator for the Kaiser Permanente Independent Arbitration System since 2000. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California and a past President of the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association. 
  • Judge Richard Seeborg is currently a United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California, a position he has held since February 2001. Judge Seeborg previously worked at Morrison & Foerester, in both Palo Alto and San Francisco, where he served as an associate from 1982 to 1991 and an equity partner from 1998 to 2000. In between his two tenures at Morrison & Foerester, he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Jose, California. From 1981 to 1982, Judge Seeborg was a law clerk to the Honorable John H. Pratt, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Columbia. Judge Seeborg received his undergraduate degree from Yale College in 1978 and a law degree in 1981 from the Columbia University School of Law.