Samuel Der-Yeghiayan

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Samuel Der-Yeghiayan (born February 16, 1952) is a United States federal judge for the Northern District of Illinois. Confirmed in 2003, he is noteworthy for being the first Armenian immigrant federal judge in the United States.

Der-Yeghiayan was born in Aleppo, Syria to Armenian parents and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. He received his B.A. in political science from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri in 1975, and his J.D. from the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, New Hampshire in 1978. He began his legal career as an Honor Law Graduate under the United States Attorney General's Honors Program. He served in various capacities with the Justice Department's Chicago District of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), with jurisdiction over the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, including as a trial attorney from 1978 to 1982, district counsel from 1982 to 2000, and acting district director from 1986 to 1987.

For twenty consecutive years from 1981 to 2000, Der-Yeghiayan received Outstanding Performance Ratings as a U.S. Justice Department Attorney from different Attorneys General of the United States. In 1986, he received the Frank J. McGarr Award of the Federal Bar Association as the Outstanding Federal Government Attorney in Chicago. In 1998, he received the District Counsel of the Year Award from the Commissioner of the INS and Attorney General Janet Reno.

In 2000, Der-Yeghiayan was appointed, under the Clinton administration, an immigration judge in the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review. He was nominated by President George W. Bush on March 5, 2003, for the district court seat vacated by Marvin E. Aspen, and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on July 14, 2003. He received his judicial commission on July 15, 2003.

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