The White House

Office of the Press Secretary


President Obama Names Five to United States District Court

WASHINGTON- Today, President Obama nominated Judge Marco Hernandez, Beryl A. Howell, Judge Steve C. Jones, Judge Diana Saldaña and Michael H. Simon to seats on the United States District Court.

“These individuals have demonstrated a commitment to justice throughout their careers,” said President Obama. “I am confident they will serve the American people with distinction from the United States District Court.”

Judge Marco A. Hernandez:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Oregon
Judge Marco A. Hernandez is a Circuit Court judge in Washington County, Oregon, where he has served on the bench for 15 years.  He was presiding judge of the Circuit Court from 2002 to 2005.  Judge Hernandez began his legal career in 1986 with Oregon Legal Services, where he worked on federal civil cases on behalf of farm workers.  From 1989 to 1994, he served as a Deputy District Attorney in Washington County.  Judge Hernandez received his J.D. in 1986 from the University of Washington School of Law and his B.A. (honors) in 1983 from Western Oregon State College. 

Beryl A. Howell:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Beryl A. Howell serves as a Member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a position she has held since 2004.  From 2003 to 2009, Ms. Howell was also Executive Managing Director and General Counsel of Stroz Friedberg, a litigation consulting and technical services firm.  For ten years until 2003, Ms. Howell served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary as a senior advisor to Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, including as the Committee’s General Counsel beginning in 1997.  From 1987 to 1993, Ms. Howell was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, where she became Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Section.  She also worked from 1985 to 1987 in private practice as an associate at the New York law firm of Schulte Roth & Zabel and she was a law clerk from 1983 to 1984 to U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise of the District of New Jersey.  Ms. Howell received her J.D. in 1983 from Columbia University School of Law and her B.A. in 1978 from Bryn Mawr College.

Judge Steve C. Jones: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
Judge Steve C. Jones serves as a Judge of the Tenth Superior Court District, Western Judicial Circuit of Georgia, a position he has held since 1995. Since 2004, he also has served as Presiding Felony Drug Court Judge of the Western Judicial Circuit. Judge Jones was a Municipal Court Judge in Athens from 1993 to 1995. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Jones was an Assistant District Attorney from 1987 to 1993 in the Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office. He served as Director of the Child Support Recovery Unit from 1978 to 1985 in the same office before he attended law school. Judge Jones received his J.D. in 1987 from the University of Georgia School of Law and his B.B.A. in 1978 from the University of Georgia.

Judge Diana Saldaña: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
Judge Diana Saldaña serves as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of Texas, a position she has held since 2006.  Before taking the bench, she served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas from 2001 to 2006.  Judge Saldaña has also worked as an associate at the Houston firm of Beirne, Maynard & Parsons L.L.P. (2000-2001) and as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (1998-1999).  Following graduation from law school, Judge Saldaña was a law clerk to Judge George P. Kazen of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.  Judge Saldaña received her J.D. in 1997 from the University of Texas School of Law and two B.A. degrees, in 1994 (government) and in 1993 (history) from the University of Texas at Austin.

Michael H. Simon: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Oregon
Michael H. Simon is a partner in the law firm of Perkins Coie LLP, where he specializes in business litigation in both state and federal court and is head of litigation for the firm’s Portland office.  Since becoming a partner in 1990, he has handled several high-profile First Amendment cases on a pro bono basis.  Prior to joining Perkins Coie in 1986, Mr. Simon served as a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, in Washington, D.C., where he handled both civil and criminal antitrust matters.  He received his J.D. cum laude in 1981 from Harvard Law School and his B.A. summa cum laude in 1978 from the University of California at Los Angeles.