Obama Nominates Gang Lawyer to District Court


The White House announced on Tuesday three nominations for District Court judgeships:

Today, President Obama nominated Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro, Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo and Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl for District Court judgeships.

“These men and women have had distinguished legal careers and I am honored to ask them to continue their work as judges on the federal bench,” said President Obama.  “They will serve the American people with integrity and an unwavering commitment to justice.”

Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo is currently a United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Restrepo was a partner at Krasner & Restrepo from 1993 to 2006.

While working at the Philadelphia-based firm, Restrepo acted as a lead attorney for Oscar Antonio Grande in the murder trial of Brenda Paz. According to court documents, Restrepo represented Grande from June 24, 2004 to March 20, 2008.

A federal jury convicted Oscar Grande and Ismael Cisneros of the 2003 stabbing in May of 2005. Both men were members of the MS-13 street gang.

Brenda Paz was 17 years old and four months pregnant at the time of her murder. Paz was a former member of MS-13. She became an informant in 2002, providing the police with “decisive or near-decisive information on at least 60 cases.” As “60 Minutes” reported: 

She was stabbed by her boyfriend Oscar Grande and Ismael Cisneros, who later confessed. [A witness] said she had called out “Why?” “Because you’re a rat” she was told. They stabbed her approximately 13 times.

MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, is a “violent, and increasingly mobile street gang.” The FBI refers to this case as an example of the gang’s extreme brutality.