Four new judges take seats on federal bench

Senate approved Obama nominees back in March

 

By Paul Janczewski
Legal News

Investiture ceremonies have taken place for two of the four new U.S. District Court judges in the Eastern District of Michigan. The federal jurists were nominated by President Barack Obama for the judgeships and approved by the U.S. Senate in March.

Matthew F. Leitman, Judith E. Levy, Laurie J. Michelson, and Linda V. Parker all received glowing endorsements from Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow prior to their Senate confirmations. Levin and Stabenow joined forces to form an independent screening committee to secure the recommendations. In nominating these four, and two other federal judges in other states, President Obama said all have “distinguished legal careers.”

“They will serve the American people with integrity and an unwavering commitment to justice,” Obama said in a July 2013 White House press release.

Leitman clerked for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Charles L. Levin in 1993-94 and was in private practice from 1994 until his appointment, focusing on complex commercial litigation, criminal defense and appellate litigation in state and federal courts as a principal at the Miller Canfield, which he joined in 2004. Before that, Leitman spent a decade working at the Miro Weiner & Kramer law firm in Bloomfield Hills.

A 1990 alumnus of the University of Michigan, Leitman graduated magna cum laude in 1993 from Harvard Law School. He has authored articles on various legal issues, such as criminal procedure, health care fraud, and litigating sales commission disputes. His investiture was held June 13. 

Levy served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan from 2000-14, and as chief of the Civil Rights Unit there from 2010-14. There, she was responsible for investigating and litigating civil rights cases on behalf of the United States, including fair housing, fair lending, disability access and police misconduct cases, and for handling citizen civil rights complaints addressed to the office and conducting outreach regarding a variety of office programs.

Since 2002, Levy has also served as an adjunct professor at the U-M Law School, where she also conducted research and presented seminars. She graduated from U-M in 1981 and also received her law degree there in 1996, cum laude. Between college and law school, Levy worked at the University of Michigan Hospital and served as the bargaining chairperson for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees for six years.

After her law school graduation, Levy served as law clerk to the U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman from 1996-99. She has also worked in private practice and as a trial attorney for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Detroit from 1999-2000. Levy has also received numerous awards for her dedication to community service, including several Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Certificates of Commendation and an award from the University of Michigan Council for Disability Concerns. Her investiture took place June 6 and she will be assigned to the Ann Arbor branch of the U.S. District Court.

Michelson has served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District since 2011. She received her law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in 1992 and a bachelor's degree in 1989 from U-M. After law school, Michelson served as law clerk to the Judge Cornelia. Kennedy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from 1992-93, then joined Butzel Long, working her way up to shareholder and practicing in white collar criminal defense and media/intellectual property law for 18 years.

She is past president of the Eastern District of Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, serves on the Advisory Board of Trustees of Eton Academy, and is a member of the Detroit Goodfellows. Michelson's reception is scheduled for July 1. 

Parker, a native Detroiter, has served as a judge on the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan in Wayne County since late 2008. Before that, she was the director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights from 2003-08. From 1994 to 2000, Parker served as the first Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan.

Parker worked at the Detroit law firm of Dickinson Wright from 1989-94, and became a partner there in 1992. Her legal career began in Washington, D.C., as a staff attorney at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, from 1985-89, and as a law clerk in the District of Columbia Superior Court from 1983-85.

She received her undergraduate degree from U-M in 1980 and her law degree from George Washington University Law School in 1983. Parker has dedicated her legal career to public service and has committed a great deal of time to serving and advocating for homeless families and teen-age mothers, Levin said, serving as chair of New Steps, an organization committed to providing services for economically disadvantaged new mothers in substance abuse recovery.

Parker, whose investiture is scheduled for June 27, will be stationed at the Flint federal court in September.

Senator Levin said each had “demonstrated a mastery of the law and the impartiality required of a judge, and I know they will serve justice and the people of Michigan well.”

Stabenow said the confirmation of all four “is great news for Michigan.”

“These four highly respected jurists have dedicated their careers to our community and to public service and will serve our state with great distinction,” Stabenow added.

 

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