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Denise O’Donnell added another first to her resume Wednesday.

Seventeen years after her appointment as U.S. Attorney in Buffalo - she was the first woman to serve in the job - O’Donnell became the first female to be nominated for a federal judgeship here.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the state’s senior senator and, like O’Donnell, a Democrat, announced the historic decision on Wednesday, calling his nominee one of the best and brightest legal minds in New York.

O’Donnell, if confirmed by the Senate, would replace U.S. District Court Judge William M. Skretny, who is moving to senior status.

“I am honored to recommend Denise O’Donnell, a true daughter of Buffalo, to President Obama to be the first woman to serve on the Western District federal bench,” Schumer said Wednesday. “Denise O’Donnell has a deep commitment to Buffalo – a city where she was born, raised, educated and raised her own family.”

O’Donnell, 67, would be the second female judge in the Western District of New York, but the other – Elizabeth A. Wolford, a Buffalo native – serves in Rochester. Schumer, who has put a priority on increasing diversity in the federal courts, recommended Wolford last year.

While some in the legal community expressed surprise at O’Donnell’s selection - her age was considered a drawback - lawyers familiar with her background and experience called it a wise political move by Schumer.

To a person, they think O’Donnell, who has already been screened by the Senate on two previous occasions, will be easily confirmed, not an insignificant prospect given the partisan nature of the Senate.

“The fact that Denise has been vetted twice by the FBI and Justice Department will hasten the nomination process," said Dennis Vacco, a Republican and former state Attorney General.

Vacco, who oversaw O’Donnell when he was U.S. Attorney and she was a prosecutor, expects her to be confirmed quickly. He also thinks she’s a much-needed addition to the courts here.

“What it underscores is Schumer’s desire for women on the bench and, in my estimation, that’s long overdue," Vacco said.

Well known throughout Buffalo’s legal and political communities, O’Donnell is viewed as a savvy and experienced lawyer well schooled in both civil and criminal law.

Lawyers who know her say her credentials are unquestioned and so is her commitment to fairness and openess in the courts.

“Denise has a good temperament to be a federal judge," said Daniel C. Oliverio, a former law partner at Hodgson Russ.

Adam W. Perry, another former law partner, described O’Donnell as a “woman of great legal substance who just happens to be a woman."

Perry has known O’Donnell for 20 years and , regardless of wh

said Adam W. Perry, a former law partnber at Hodgson Russ who has known O’Donnell for 20 years.

announced today that he is recommending O’Donnell to President Obama for appointment to the post. Once her appointment is confirmed by the Senate, O’Donnell would take the place of U.S. District Court Judge William M. Skretny, who is moving to senior status.

Denise O’Donnell, the director of the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance and a former U.S. attorney in Western New York, is in line to be Buffalo’s first-ever female federal judge.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the state’s senior senator and, like O’Donnell, a Democrat, announced today that he is recommending O’Donnell to President Obama for appointment to the post. Once her appointment is confirmed by the Senate, O’Donnell would take the place of U.S. District Court Judge William M. Skretny, who is moving to senior status.

“I am honored to recommend Denise O’Donnell, a true daughter of Buffalo, to President Obama to be the first woman to serve on the Western District federal bench,” said Schumer. “Denise O’Donnell has a deep commitment to Buffalo – a city where she was born, raised, educated and raised her own family; she has unparalleled experience; and she has one of the best and brightest legal minds in all of New York.”

O’Donnell, 67, would be the second female judge in the Western District of New York, but the other – Elizabeth A. Wolford, a Buffalo native – serves in Rochester. Schumer, who has put a priority on increasing diversity in the federal courts, recommended Wolford last year.

In her current job at the Justice Department, O’Donnell administers grants in excess of $5 billion while working to implement data-driven criminal justice policy.

Before joining the Obama administration, O’Donnell served as deputy secretary for public safety in New York State and commissioner of the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.

An unsuccessful candidate for state attorney general in 2006, O’Donnell served as U.S. attorney for Western New York from 1997-2001. Previously an assistant U.S. attorney, O’Donnell had a prominent role in the prosecution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

“Most importantly, as a former United States Attorney for this region, as a lawyer in private practice, as New York state’s top criminal justice official, and as a top official in the federal Department of Justice, she has unparalleled experience and expertise needed to capably fill the seat,” Schumer said. “I am more than confident she will be a fair, insightful, and well respected judge.”

email: jzremski@buffnews.com