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Biden taps 6 for judgeships in 3rd nominating spurt

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Biden taps 6 for judgeships in 3rd nominating spurt

  • President Joseph R. Biden, Vice President Kamala D. Harris, and their spouses greet the crowd at the top of the stairs on the east side of the Capitol Building during the 59th inauguration in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2021.
    DoD photo | U.S. Army Private 1st Class Laura HardinPresident Joseph R. Biden, Vice President Kamala D. Harris, and their spouses greet the crowd at the top of the stairs on the east side of the Capitol Building during the 59th inauguration in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2021.

Putting forward six new candidates to take various district court and appellate appointments, President Joe Biden unveiled his third slate of judicial nominees Wednesday, continuing his pattern of adding more diversity on the federal benches.

The administration says Biden has put forward more judicial candidates at this point, 112 days into his first term, than any other president in modern American history. Wednesday’s announcement brings the president’s total number of judicial nominees to 20 — after submitting 11 candidates in March and three candidates in April.

Former President Donald Trump’s success in adding more than 200 judges to federal benches nationwide reportedly lit a fire under Biden to match his predecessor’s pace. The White House touted Wednesday that Biden is continuing “to move at a historically fast pace with respect to judicial nominations.”

Those nominated for appellate positions include Puerto Rico-based Chief U.S. District Judge Gustavo Gelpí for the First Circuit; assistant federal defender Eunice Lee for the Second Circuit; and an attorney in Colorado and Wyoming’s federal public defender office, Veronica Rossman, for the 10th Circuit.

Gelpí has led the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico since 2018. If confirmed, he would be just the second judge of Hispanic origin to serve on the First Circuit as well as the second judge from Puerto Rico to sit on the Boston-based First Circuit. Before becoming a federal judge, Gelpí acted as a U.S. magistrate judge for the District of Puerto Rico from 2001 to 2006. He also served as the solicitor general of Puerto Rico from 1999 to 2000, and as an assistant federal public defender from 1993 to 1996.

Lee, currently working as an assistant federal defender with the Federal Defenders of New York, would be the second Black woman ever to serve on the Second Circuit’s bench and the only judge from a federal defender background on the circuit. Lee previously spent more than two decades — from 1998 to 2019 — with the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City, acting as a supervising attorney there after 2001. 

Nominated to fill a seat on the 10th Circuit, Rossman would serve as the court’s only judge with federal defender experience and would also bring her personal experience of being a first-generation immigrant. Rossman has worked for the past five years as senior counsel in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Districts of Colorado and Wyoming. Prior to this, she served other roles in the office, including appellate division chief and assistant federal public defender, dating back to 2010.

Biden’s district court nominees include Angel Kelley, who is now a superior court judge in Massachusetts; Foster Garvey principal attorney Lauren King for a federal post in Washington state; and U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Williams for a district judgeship in New Jersey.

Kelley would be the second Black female judge and the second Asian American judge to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Before serving as a state court superior judge she spent more than a decade as a state court associate judge. And before that, she worked as an assistant U.S. attorney for Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2007 to 2009. 

King, a practicing attorney based in Seattle, would be the first Native American federal judge in Washington state history and just the third active Native American federal judge serving in the country. She currently chairs Foster Garvey’s Native American Law Practice Group and additionally has been a pro tem appellate judge since 2013 for the Northwest Intertribal Court System.

Williams would be the first Black judge to sit in the New Jersey’s federal courthouse in Camden. She has been a federal magistrate since 2009 and prior to this practiced law at Jasinski & Williams for 17 years. The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on five of Biden’s first-round judicial nominations — Ketanji Brown Jackson for the D.C. Circuit, Candace Jackson-Akiwumi for the Seventh Circuit, Julien Neals and Judge Zahid Quraishi for New Jersey federal court and Regina Rodriguez for Colorado federal court — in late April. All have yet to be confirmed.

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