Judge Eleanor Ross nominated for U.S. District Court

Jennifer Ffrench-Parker | 12/27/2013, 6:04 a.m.
Eleanor Ross

DeKalb State Court Judge Eleanor Ross might be moving to the federal bench.

Ross, whose legal career spans 18 years, was one of four Georgia judges and attorneys named by President Barack Obama on Dec. 19 to fill vacancies in the Northern District.

They were among eight nominees offered by the president to serve on U.S. District Courts in Georgia, Massachusetts, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Arizona.

The Georgia nominees – including Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael P. Boggs; attorney Mark Howard Cohen, a litigation partner in the Atlanta firm of Troutman Sanders LLP; and attorney Leigh Martin May, a partner at the Atlanta office of Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer LLP – will fill three seats that have been vacant in the Northern District since January and one vacant since February 2009.

The president said he is honored to put forward “these highly qualified candidates for the federal bench.”

“They will be distinguished public servants and valuable additions to the United States District Courts,” he said in a White House news release.

Ross, who lives in Lithonia, began her legal career as an assistant district attorney in Tarrant County, Texas, in 1995. She was appointed to the DeKalb State Court in 2011 by Gov. Nathan Deal to fill a vacancy created by the forced resignation of Judge Barbara Mobley from the bench. She was the only African-American on the State Court bench and was up for election in 2014.

Before that, Ross spent 15 years as a prosecutor at both the federal and state levels.

Between 2007 and 2011, Ross was executive assistant district attorney in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, and between 2002 and 2005, she was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Georgia. Ross also served four years, from 1998 to 2002, as senior assistant district attorney in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and 1997 to 1998 as a DeKalb County assistant solicitor general.

As a prosecutor, her high-profile cases include the 2008 conviction of Chiman Rai, the Indian businessman who had his daughter-in-law murdered because she was African-American, and the 2010 conviction of Devonni Benton for firing the stray shot that killed Spelman College sophomore Jasmine Lynn as she walked across an Atlanta University Center campus in 2009. Ross also worked the cases that sent eight members of the International Robbing Crew and 10 members of the Nine Trey Bloods street gang to prison.

She assisted former Attorney General Mike Bowers, former DeKalb District Attorney Bob Wilson, and Investigator Richard L. Hyde in their 2011 probe into the Atlanta Public Schools test scores cheating scandal.

Ross, who is married to attorney Brian Ross, received her J.D. in 1994 from the University of Houston Law Center and her B.A. from American University in 1989. Her husband is in private practice in Covington. They have two girls.

The other four nominees are Tanya S. Chutkan for the District of Columbia; Judge M. Hannah Lauck for the Eastern District of Virginia; Judge Leo T. Sorokin for the District of Massachusetts; and Judge James Alan Soto for the District of Arizona.

The nominations now go to the U.S. Senate for consideration.