Updated at 6:27 p.m.
The White House announced this afternoon that Assistant U.S. Attorney Rudolph Contreras has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Ronnie Abrams, the special counsel for pro bono at New York’s Davis Polk & Wardwell, was also nominated this afternoon to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Contreras has served as the chief of the civil division in the U.S. attorney's office in Washington for the past five years. He held the same position in the U.S attorney's office in Delaware from 2003 to 2006.
Contreras, who will fill now-Senior U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina’s seat, declined to comment, citing the pending nomination. In a statement, U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen noted that Contreras is the third of the last four chiefs of the office’s civil division to be tapped for a federal judgeship in Washington – the others were U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth and U.S. District Judge John Bates.
“Rudy Contreras has served the public with distinction as Chief of our Civil Division and I have no doubt he will be an excellent federal judge,” Machen said. “His steady temperament and keen intellect make him perfect for the bench.”
Contreras started his career in public service in Washington, when he was hired in 1994 to work in the U.S. attorney’s office by then-U.S. Attorney Eric Holder. He was previously an attorney at Jones Day.
The son of Cuban immigrants, Contreras’ nomination was supported by the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia, of which he is a member. In a letter supporting his nomination earlier this year, the association noted that in addition to his lengthy career in public service, Contreras served as a mentor for young Hispanic lawyers.
In a statement released today, U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who recommended Contreras for the nomination, said that Contreras “has had an unusually impressive legal career.”
“Throughout his career as an assistant U.S. attorney and in private practice, he has demonstrated the consummate professionalism, intelligence, character, diligence, and collegiality that predict he will be an outstanding judge,” she said.
Contreras earned his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in 1991 and a bachelor’s degree in 1984 from Florida State University.
Prior to joining Davis Polk & Wardwell in 2008, Abrams served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York starting in 1998, including stints as chief of the general crimes unit from 2005 to 2007 and deputy chief of the criminal division from 2007 to 2008. She was an associate at Davis Polk from 1994 to 1998.
If confirmed, Abrams would serve on the same bench as U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa, whom she clerked for from 1993 to 1994. Abrams earned her J.D. in 1993 from Yale Law School and her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1990.
"Ronnie is an exceptional lawyer with a long list of accomplishments, both here at Davis Polk and as a federal prosecutor," the firm said in a release. "We are proud of her and believe the President could not have chosen better for this important seat on the judiciary."
Michael A. Scarcella contributed reporting.