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Harkin recommends Dave O'Brien as next federal judge

O'Brien lost primary bid for Congress earlier this month

Iowa 1st District Democratic hopeful Dave O'Brien makes a speech on Friday, April 25, 2014, during a rally supporting the raise of minimum wage at Hawkeye Labor Council in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Justin Wan/The Gazette-KCRG TV9) ¬
Iowa 1st District Democratic hopeful Dave O'Brien makes a speech on Friday, April 25, 2014, during a rally supporting the raise of minimum wage at Hawkeye Labor Council in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Justin Wan/The Gazette-KCRG TV9) ¬

Sen. Tom Harkin has recommended Cedar Rapids Attorney Dave O'Brien, who recently lost a primary bid for the 1st Congressional District, as the next federal judge in Northern District of Iowa.

U.S. District Judge Mark W. Bennett, who works out of Sioux City, notified President Barack Obama that he will retire July 4, 2015. The recommendation likely will be one of the last that Harkin, who is retiring at the end of his term next year, will make.

“Federal judges are critical to ensure the rule of law, promote justice, and protect critical constitutional values, and I take my constitutional role of providing advice on this nomination very seriously," Harkin said in a statement Friday. “I have carefully reviewed the records and qualifications of many outstanding judges and attorneys in Iowa, talked to many members of the Iowa bar and community, and have interviewed a number of candidates. After assessing the character, experiences, and expertise of these candidates, I am confident that Mr. O’Brien is the most qualified."

Harkin said he looks forward to working with the president on filling the position as quickly as possible.

"It's an honor to receive the recommendation from Sen. Harkin," O'Brien said Friday.

O'Brien, who was born and raised in Sioux City, has been an attorney for more than 20 years and is a member of the Willey O'Brien law firm. He has vast experience with litigation and civil rights cases.

He graduated from George Washington University with a bachelor's degree in public affairs and received his law degree from the University of Iowa. O'Brien was in private practice in Sioux City from 1984-93 and worked in various positions for the U.S. Department of Labor from 1994-98 before coming back home to Iowa.

O'Brien is married to Stacy and they have four children and serve as foster parents.

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