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Sunil Harjani confirmed as federal district court judge

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 53-46 to confirm federal Magistrate Judge Sunil Harjani to become a federal district court judge for the Chicago-based Northern District of Illinois.

Harjani, who was born in Joliet and earned undergraduate and law degrees from Northwestern University, will be the sixth judge appointed by President Joe Biden to the Northern District of Illinois. He will fill the seat vacated by Judge Thomas Durkin, who semi-retired in December.

Harjani practiced private law for three years and then worked as a Chicago-based attorney with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission before becoming a federal prosecutor in the Northern District of Illinois handling cases involving securities and commodities fraud. In 2019, judges for the Northern District of Illinois selected him to be a federal magistrate judge. Harjani earned her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern in 1997 and her law degree from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in 2000, and then served for a year as a law clerk to Northern District Judge Suzanne Conlon.

In January, Biden nominated Harjani to be a federal district judge after Sens. Richard Durbin and Tammy Duckworth recommended her as a potential judicial nominee to the White House in November. Harjani appealed to the senators’ screening committee in September and interviewed both Durbin and Duckworth in November, according to a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee survey. He then met with several lawyers from the White House counsel’s office a few days later.

At Harjani’s U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in February, Harjani said he and his wife were “proud Illinoisans” and told senators that he viewed the opportunity to serve as a federal district court judge as “a continuation of my American dream and public service journey.” .”

All current Democratic senators voted to confirm Harjani on Tuesday, as did three Republican senators, along with two senators who caucus with Democrats.

“Judge Harjani is the latest of many qualified, diverse candidates that Durbin has recommended and that President Biden has nominated and confirmed,” said University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias, a longtime expert on federal judicial selection. “Harjani has significant experience on the subject. Most recently, he has served as a magistrate judge for the Northern District of Illinois since 2019, which is experience best suited to serving as a district judge.”

Tobias added that Tuesday’s 53-46 confirmation vote “reflects the step-by-step voting that the GOP committee has done, especially in an election year.” Harjani had a fairly uneventful hearing in which he answered all of GOP members’ questions fully and clearly, and ranking member Sen. R.S.C. It received (committee) approval by a vote of 12 to 9, with Lindsey Graham voting in the affirmative.

In his statement after his approval, Harjani thanked Biden, Durbin and Duckworth for their support.

“I look forward to starting work with my new colleagues who work hard every day to uphold the rule of law, helping people resolve their disputes fairly and impartially, and doing so with honesty and humility,” he said.

Following the vote, Durbin and Duckworth released a statement saying Harjani was “highly respected by our screening committee and has strong qualifications and rich courtroom experience (including being a Northern District magistrate judge since 2019) that will strengthen our federal bench.” .”

There are no current vacancies in the 23-judge Northern District of Illinois. But Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer announced in August that she would go into semi-retirement, and Biden nominated federal prosecutor Georgia Alexakis to replace her. Last month, Biden nominated Judge Nancy Maldonado, who was confirmed as a Northern District district court judge in 2022, to serve as a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Maldonado will replace retiring 7th Circuit Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner.

Goldsborough is a freelance reporter.

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