San Francisco lawyer Michelle Friedland is one of three people whom President Obama just nominated to fill vacancies on the Ninth and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeals. Friedland is a Berkeley native and a partner at the S.F. office of Munger, Tolles & Olson, but she's relatively young, having only made partner three years ago and having graduated Stanford Law School in 2000. She's distinguished herself first as a Fulbright Scholar, and as a clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and in 2013 she was a recipient of the President’s Pro Bono Service Award for her active pro bono practice.

Friedland fills a vacancy left by the promotion of Judge Raymond Fisher in April to senior status on the court. But another vacancy left by the promotion of Judge Stephen Trott has been open since 2004, and the President is now finally trying to fill it with another partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson, in the Los Angeles office: John B. Owens.

Owens is a Cal and Stanford Law grad, and he spent more than a decade as a federal prosecutor in California, specializing in white collar and border crime prosecutions. His current practice focuses on complex business and Supreme Court litigation.

Part of the reason this particular vacancy has sat empty has been an argument over where the judge filling it should come from — Trott had been an Idaho judge, and Idaho senators have insisted the next one be as well.

It remains to be seen if Congress is going to allow these nominations to get confirmed, and there's already some rumbling that Republicans are looking to reignite the filibuster fight over some other of the President's judicial nominations.

There are a total of 29 judgeships on the 9th Circuit, which is the largest appellate court in the country.

[White House]
[SF Business Times]