President Obama on Tuesday announced his nomination of Judge Robert Leon Wilkins, a distinguished African American judge, to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second highest court in the United States.

Wilkins currently serves as a United States District Judge for the District of Columbia, a position he has held since he was confirmed by the Senate without opposition in 2010.

Judge Wilkins was born in Muncie, Indiana, and grew up both there and in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He received his B.S. cum laude in 1986 from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and his J.D. in 1989 from Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review and as a C. Clyde Ferguson Human Rights Fellow.

“This is the second time I’ve called on Judge Robert Wilkins to serve — because in 2010, I nominated Robert to the D.C. District Court, and the Senate confirmed him without opposition,” Obama said Tuesday at the White House.

“Before serving with distinction as a federal judge, Wilkins spent eight years in private practice and a decade as a public defender here in Washington, D.C., providing legal representation to defendants who could not afford an attorney,” Obama said.  “And throughout his career, Robert has distinguished himself as a principled attorney of the utmost integrity.”

Judge Wilkins began his legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable Earl B. Gilliam of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California from 1989 to 1990.  He worked at the Public Defender Service in the District of Columbia from 1990 until 2000, beginning as a staff attorney and later serving as Chief of Special Litigation, where he represented the agency’s policy positions.

From 2000 to 2002, Judge Wilkins spent the majority of his time working to establish the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, serving on the Presidential Commission and as Chair of the Site and Building Committee.  From 2002 to 2011, Judge Wilkins was a partner at Venable LLP in Washington, D.C., where he focused on white collar criminal defense, intellectual property, and complex commercial litigation.

In 2008, The Legal Times named Judge Wilkins one of the “90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years.”  In 2002, the National Law Journal named Judge Wilkins one of the “40 Under 40 Most Successful Young Litigators in America.”  Additionally, he was a founding member of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission and has served on the D.C. Advisory Commission on Sentencing, the D.C. Truth-In-Sentencing Commission, and the D.C. Juvenile Justice Advisory Group.

(Photo: White House.gov)

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