President Obama has nominated federal trial judge Patti Saris of Massachusetts to chair the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Saris, a federal judge since 1994, was formerly a Massachusetts superior court judge and a federal magistrate judge. She worked for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Ma.) on the United States Judiciary Committee from 1979 to 1981. Kennedy was instrumental in the legislation that created the commission, which formulates advisory sentencing guidelines for federal courts.
Obama also nominated Dabney Langhorne Friedrich for another term on the comission, where she has serviced since 2006. She formerly worked as an associate counsel at the White House (2003 to 2006), counsel to then-Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) of the Senate Judiciary Committee (2002-2003), and an assistant U.S. Attorney, first for the Southern District of California (1995-1997) and then for the Eastern District of Virginia (1998-2002).