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Senate confirms LA attorney Kenneth Kiyul Lee to seat on Ninth Circuit

SAN FRANCISCO (Press Release) — The United States Senate has confirmed President Trump’s nomination of Los Angeles attorney Kenneth Kiyul Lee to serve as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Senators gave their consent by a vote of 52-45.

Los Angeles attorney Kenneth Kiyul Lee appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 13, 2019. Photo by Ron Sachs/CNP via ZUMA Wire

Judge Lee, who is expected to maintain chambers in Pasadena, California, was nominated to the court on Feb. 26, 2019. After appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 13, 2019, his nomination was reported to the Senate floor on April 4, 2019. He fills a judgeship vacant since March 29, 2018, when Judge Stephen Reinhardt of Los Angeles passed away.

Judge Lee becomes the nation’s first Article III judge who was born in South Korea. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Lee had been a partner at the law firm of Jenner & Block since 2009. He served as an adjunct faculty member of Pepperdine Law School from 2010 to 2011. Judge Lee was an associate counsel and special assistant to the president of the United States, from 2006 to 2009, and special counsel in 2005 to Senate Arlen Specter, who was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time. Judge Lee engaged in private practice as an associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York from 2001 to 2006.

Judge Lee received his juris doctorate, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 2000 and his bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Cornell University in 1997. He clerked for Judge Emilio M. Garza of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from 2000 to 2001.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hears appeals of cases decided by executive branch agencies and federal trial courts in nine western states and two Pacific Island jurisdictions. The court normally meets monthly in Seattle, Washington; San Francisco, California; and Pasadena, California; every other month in Portland, Oregon; three times per year in Honolulu, Hawaii; and twice a year in Anchorage, Alaska.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had 10,502 new case filings in calendar year 2018. The court is authorized 29 judgeships and currently has 3 vacancies.