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Trump Plans Four District Court Picks in Illinois, Pennsylvania (1)

Feb. 5, 2020, 8:03 PMUpdated: Feb. 5, 2020, 10:36 PM

President Donald Trump plans to nominate three sitting judges and a federal prosecutor to district court seats in Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Three of the four planned nominees, two of whom have Big Law experience, would fill vacancies in Illinois, a blue state where 17% of the current seats sit vacant, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis of Federal Judicial Center data.

The Senate has been slow to confirm nominees with two Democratic members, including Illinois.

In an effort to make good on his 2016 campaign promise, Trump has worked with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to remake the judiciary with conservatives. So far, those efforts have resulted in the appointment of 183 judges to federal district and appeals courts and two justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

One of the planned selections announced on Wednesday would fill seats considered “judicial emergencies” in the Southern District of Illinois. Judicial emergencies are determined by length of the vacancy and workload of the remaining judges. That planned nominee is David W. Dugan, a state circuit judge in Madison County.

Franklin U. Valderrama, who is also a state circuit judge in Cook County, was named as a planned pick for the Northern District of Illinois.

A couple of the selections have Big Law experience.

Iain D. Johnston, a planned nominee for the Northern District of Illinois, worked at Holland & Knight LLP, among other firms. He is currently a U.S. magistrate judge in Illinois.

And Christy Criswell Wiegand, a planned pick for the Western District of Pennsylvania, worked at Arnold & Porter in Washington after she graduated from college. She is currently a federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania and previously served as deputy chief of the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

(Adds details about the nominees throughout.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at; John Crawley at