New Mexico U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales and Hawaii Assistant U.S. Attorney Derrick Kahala Watson were nominated to the federal bench today by President Barack Obama,
Gonzales, who took office in 2010, has been nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court in the District of New Mexico. Watson, who has served as an AUSA since 2007, has been nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court of Hawaii.
Gonzales spent 11 years with the New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s office before his appointment to the head position. In that capacity, he serves on the Attorney General Advisory Committee’s subcommittees on Native American Issues and Southwest Border and Immigration Issues, according to his online biography. He is also an officer of the U.S. Army Reserve and is a major in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office, Gonzales served from 1996 to 1999 as a legislative assistant for Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). From 1994 to 1996 he clerked for Judge Joseph Baca, the chief justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court. Gonzales is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and the University of New Mexico Law School.
Watson is currently the Civil Division chief within the Hawaii U.S. Attorney’s office, a post he has held since 2009. Before joining the Hawaii federal prosecutor’s office, Watson worked as a partner at Farella Braun + Martel LLP, a San Francisco law firm.
From 1995 to 2000, Watson served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of California, ultimately serving as the Deputy Chief of the Civil Division. He began his career at Landels, Ripley & Diamond, where he worked as an associate from 1991 to 1995.
He is a graduate of The Kamehameha Schools, Harvard College and Harvard Law School.