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Obama nominates Murphy Firm partner for federal bench

President Barack Obama has nominated trial attorney Paula Xinis to become a U.S. District Court judge in Maryland.

Xinis, a partner at the Baltimore law firm of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, was an assistant federal public defender for 13 years, and previously was a clerk for Judge Diana Gribbon Motz in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

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She will fill a vacancy in the Southern Division in Greenbelt left when Judge Deborah Chasanow moved to senior status, and will need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Obama said in a statement that he was "confident" Xinis "will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice."

Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law who tracks judicial appointments, said Xinis was "a highly qualified consensus nominee." Obama has appointed relatively few criminal defense attorneys and her selection will increase balance on the federal bench, he said.

Tobias noted the Senate has confirmed no judicial nominees so far this year.

"The confirmation process may take much time," he said in an e-mail.

Maryland senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin, both Democrats, praised the selection.

"Ms. Xinis possesses the qualities that are needed to make sure the rights of ordinary Americans are protected, and has the experience that will allow her to serve with an open mind and adhere to the rule of law," Mikulski said in a statement.

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