President appoints Restrepo to U.S. Court of Appeals

A federal judge who immigrated to the United States as a child and spent years as a public defender and civil rights lawyer in Philadelphia is President Obama's latest pick to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

The White House on Wednesday announced the nomination of U.S. District Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, 53, to fill the appeals court's lone vacancy. He now faces another round of Senate confirmation, less than a year after he went through the process for his current judicial post.

During his short tenure on the federal district court bench, Restrepo has presided over cases such as a dispute that recently left 20 crew members stranded for months aboard a Greek-owned cargo ship parked in the Delaware River.

He headed a program as a magistrate judge to assist ex-offenders with issues like getting a job, signing up for GED classes, and dealing with bad credit history.

"Judge Restrepo has served the people of Pennsylvania honorably and with distinction. I believe that he will also make a superb addition to the Third Circuit," said U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), who recommended Restrepo along with U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D., Pa.).

Born in Medellin, Colombia, Restrepo came to the United States as a 2-year-old. He became a U.S. citizen in 1993 and earned degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Tulane University.

He has worked as a public defender in Philadelphia and as a member of the federal defenders unit.

Before his nomination to the federal bench, he spent 13 years in practice focused on civil rights and criminal defense work.


jroebuck@phillynews.com

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