President Barack Obama has nominated the lead prosecutor in a high-profile terrorism trial of three NATO protesters to fill one of two vacancies on the federal bench for northern Illinois.
Sen. Dick Durbin's office announced Cook County prosecutor John Blakey's nomination Tuesday. Cook County Judge Jorge Alonso was nominated for the other vacancy at the Chicago-based court.
At trial this year, Blakey accused the activists of plotting Molotov cocktail attacks during the 2012 alliance summit in Chicago. He dubbed them "Professor Molotov," "Captain Napalm" and "Mr. Cop on Fire."
Civil libertarians criticized the decision to charge the three with terrorism. And jurors eventually acquitted them of terrorism and convicted them on lesser charges.
Sen. Mark Kirk recommended Blakey, who since 2009 has served as chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau in the office of the Cook County State's Attorney and as Assistant U.S. Attorney for Illinois' northern district. He previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Florida.
A 1992 Notre Dame Law School graduate, he clerked for a federal judge in Florida and worked for an international before becoming a Cook County prosecutor in 1996, a position he held for four years. Durbin recommend the nomination of Alonso, a native of Cuba, who was admitted to the bar in 1991 and spent his early legal career as Cook County assistant public defender.
Appointed an associate judge in 2003, Alonso served at the Second Municipal District in Skokie from February 2005 to September 2006. That year he transferred into the criminal division at the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago.
The Senate still must approve Obama's nominations.