The White House on Monday picked former San Francisco federal prosecutor Hayward Gilliam Jr. for the last open spot on the Bay Area's federal bench.

In a brief statement, President Barack Obama said he plans to nominate Gilliam for the lifetime appointment, filling Chief U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken's looming vacancy.

Wilken has announced plans to step down from full-time duty at the end of the year.

Gilliam, currently a partner in the law firm Covington & Burling, would be the second full-time African-American judge on the 14-member court.

Wilken is based in the Oakland federal courthouse and presumably Gilliam, an Oakland resident, would take over in the East Bay.

If confirmed by the Senate, the 44-year-old Gilliam would complete Obama's makeover of the Bay Area federal bench. He is the 11th judge nominated here over the president's two terms.

Gilliam spent seven years in the U.S. attorney's office, including three as chief of the securities fraud section. He once clerked for longtime U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, who continues to hear cases in San Francisco.

Gilliam earned his law degree from Stanford University and his undergraduate degree from Yale.

Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz.



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