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J Paul Oetken

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Full Name
James Paul Oetken

October 1, 1965 (age 58) Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. (

Alma mater
University of IowaYale University

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James Paul Oetken (born October 1, 1965), known professionally as J. Paul Oetken, is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He is the first openly gay man to be confirmed as an Article III judge.


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Early life and education

Oetken was born on October 1, 1965 in Louisville, Kentucky. He was valedictorian and class president at Regis High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1988 from the University of Iowa and a Juris Doctor in 1991 from Yale Law School. From 1991 until 1992, Oetken served as a law clerk for Judge Richard Cudahy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and from 1992 until 1993, he served as a law clerk to Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. From 1993 until 1994, Oetken served as a law clerk to Associate Justice Harry Blackmun on the United States Supreme Court.

Professional career

From 1994 until 1996 or 1997, Oetken worked as an associate with the law firm of Jenner & Block. In 1997, he joined the Office of Legal Counsel in the United States Department of Justice as an attorney-advisor, where he worked until becoming an Associate Counsel to the President of the United States in the office of the White House Counsel in 1999. He held that job until President Bill Clinton left office in 2001. From 2001 until 2003, Oetken worked as an associate at the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, and from 2003 until 2004, he was counsel. In 2004, Oetken joined Cablevision Systems Corporation as its associate general counsel, until leaving to join the federal bench in 2011.

Federal judicial service

On January 26, 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Oetken to serve on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to replace Judge Denny Chin, whom Obama previously appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. New York Senator Charles Schumer recommended Oetken to the post. Schumer recommended Oetken a year after he recommended former Assistant United States Attorney Daniel S. Alter, also openly gay, whom the White House declined to nominate after concluding, because of statements that had been attributed to Alter, that his nomination was unlikely to survive the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. Schumer stated that diversity was a consideration in his recommendations for federal judgeships, and that he was "shocked to learn" that no openly gay men had served on the federal bench. The full United States Senate confirmed Oetken on July 18, 2011 in an 80–13 vote. He received his commission on July 20, 2011. Oetken is the second openly gay Article III judge in the country, after Deborah Batts.

Personal life

Oetken is openly gay. He lives with his partner Makky Pratayot in Manhattan. They were married on September 6, 2014 at Jane Hotel in Manhattan by Judge Alison J. Nathan.


J. Paul Oetken Wikipedia

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