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Rice Voted In to Federal Bench in Wash. State

(CN) - Congress has confirmed the appointment of U.S. District Judge Thomas Owen Rice, a former prosecutor, to the Eastern District of Washington.

The Senate voted 93-4 to confirm President Barack Obama's pick on Tuesday. Rice, 51, will be filling a seat left vacant when U.S. District Judge Robert Whaley assumed senior status in 2009.

Rice has been an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington since 1987. He previously served as criminal division chief from 2000 to 2003. Before that, Rice worked as a trial attorney in the tax division of the U.S. Department of Justice. A native of Spokane, Rice received his law degree from Gonzaga University in 1986, graduating magna cum laude.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington has courthouses in Richland, Spokane and Yakima.

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