(CN) - Gov. Jerry Brown has chosen Leondra Kruger, a black lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice, to replace retiring Associate Justice Joyce Kennard on the California Supreme Court.
Kruger, 38, has been a government attorney in Washington, D.C., since 2007, where she worked as assistant to the solicitor general and acting principal deputy solicitor general, and argued 12 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2013, she became deputy assistant attorney general.
Brown's choice of Kruger continues his unconventional pattern of selecting justices for the state's highest court who have never sat on the bench.
Brown's last two nominees were professors: Mariano-Florentino Cuellar was a law and political science professor at Stanford University and Goodwin Liu was the associate dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law. Their lack of judicial experience was brought up only briefly in confirmation hearings.
In announcing the nomination, Brown described Kruger as "a distinguished lawyer and uncommon student of the law."
"She has won the respect of eminent jurists, scholars and practitioners alike," Brown added.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement: "I will miss working with Leondra, but I am proud to join my colleagues in wishing her all the best as she begins a new chapter in her already extraordinary career."
"Leondra is an extraordinarily talented attorney who has been a leader within the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel and Office of the Solicitor General. Her remarkable judgment, tireless work ethic, and dedication to the highest ideals of public service have marked her as one of the foremost leaders of her profession," Holder added. "I am certain that she will be an excellent and thoughtful Supreme Court justice who will serve the people of California with distinction for many years."
Before working for the federal government, Kruger was a law clerk to the former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court from 2003 to 2004, an associate at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Washington, D.C., from 2004 to 2006 and a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School in 2007.
A Los Angeles native, Kruger earned her bachelor's degree from Harvard University. At Yale Law School, Kruger edited the Yale Law Journal.
Kruger said in a statement: "I am deeply honored by Governor Brown's nomination. I look forward to returning home to California and, if confirmed, serving the people of California on our state's highest court."Follow @MariaDinzeo
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