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President Obama Nominates Alumnus Robert Wilkins to Federal Appellate Court Judgeship

June 4, 2013

             Wilkins
  Principled Legal Authority: Robert L. Wilkins, a 1986 chemical engineering alumnus, has served as a federal judge in Washington, D.C., for the past two years after a distinguished attorney and community leader.
 

The judicial career of alumnus Robert L. Wilkins may become more influential after being nominated by President Barack Obama to fill an opening on the federal appeals court bench in Washington, D.C. The 1986 chemical engineering graduate has been a federal judge in the nation's capital for the past two years.

Obama praised Wilkins as a "principled attorney of the utmost integrity," according to media reports.

The federal appeals court has nationwide and even international impact, since many cases relate to the balance of power in Washington, D.C., and review of actions by federal agencies that affect health, safety, and the environment. The D.C. circuit also is grooming grounds for the Supreme Court, with four current justices having served on it.

Wilkins was sworn in as federal district judge in March, 2011, after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate from Obama's nomination. He is one of 12 full-time federal judges serving in the district.

The 1989 Harvard Law School graduate is a former special litigation chief at the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, and a trial and appellate lawyer for the Venable LLP law firm, representing clients in bribery cases, grand jury subpoena investigations and patent infringement suits. He is a founding member of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, served on the D.C. Advisory Commission on Sentencing, the D.C. Truth-In-Sentencing Commission and the D.C. Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. He specialized in corporate defense/white collar, technology and commercial litigation practice groups.

The Legal Times called Wilkins "the office's premier advocate for defendants' rights" and later named him one of the 90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years.

A founding member of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, Wilkins served on the D.C. Advisory Commission on Sentencing, the D.C. Truth-In-Sentencing Commission and the D.C. Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. He joined Venable in 2002 and has represented clients in bribery cases, grand jury subpoena investigations and patent infringement suits.

Wilkins’ career has also featured him serving as president of the National African American Museum & Cultural Complex, helping to plan and create the National Museum of African American History and Culture within the Smithsonian Institution. He formed a non-profit corporation that helped establish a Presidential Commission to plan the museum, and then chaired its site and building committee. The museum is set to open in 2014.

At Rose-Hulman, Wilkins received the Herman A. Moench Distinguished Senior Commendation during the 1986 commencement. He also received the Rose-Hulman Alumni Association's Honor Alumnus Award in 2005 for his service to his alma mater and professional achievement.