Joe Biden has promised to rebalance our courts by appointing more public defenders, civil rights and legal aid lawyers and lawyers who have represented Americans in every walk of life to the bench. Learn more about those nominees below.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia. She is a former public defender and Sentencing Commission vice chair, and on the federal bench, she has stood up for the rule of law, holding the Trump administration accountable for its rule-breaking. She has been confirmed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis three times.
Margaret Stickland is a civil rights lawyer and former public defender who has stood up for the rights of victims of police brutality and sexual assault. She won a $1.6 million verdict on behalf of a woman who suffered police abuse. She has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.
Candace Jackson-Akiwumi worked as a public defender for 10 years, representing over 400 clients and arguing half a dozen appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals. She would be the first judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals with experience as a public defender and only the second Black judge to ever serve on that court, which is currently all white. She has been nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Lydia Kay Griggsby is a judge for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. She previously worked as a Civil Division Assistant U.S. Attorney, where she helped secure a $20 million settlement against Toyota for selling vehicles that violated the Clean Air Act and held two of Washington D.C’s largest property managers accountable for failing to disclose lead-based paint. Griggsby would be the first woman of color to serve on this court. She has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
Deborah Boardman is a magistrate judge and former federal public defender. As a magistrate judge, Boardman ordered the Baltimore Police Department to release documents pertaining to the conviction of a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder. She has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
Tana Lin Key has experience as a public defender, civil rights lawyer for the Department of Justice, and civil rights and criminal defense attorney in private practice. She would be the first ever Asian American judge and first ever former public defender to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Judge David Estudillo
Judge David Estudillo is a Grant County Superior Court judge who previously represented people immigrating to the United States and people seeking immigration benefits. Judge Estudillo has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Angel Kelley has worked at the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn and for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. If confirmed, Kelley would be only the second Black woman to ever serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Eunice Lee has worked as a public defender for more than 20 years, representing more than 380 clients. She will bring the most public defense experience of any federal appellate judge in U.S. history, and she will be the only former public defender and only Black woman active on the U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit.
Veronica Rossman has worked in senior leadership roles in the office of the the Federal Public Defender (FPD) for the Districts of Colorado and Wyoming. Rossman will be the first judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit with experience as a public defender. Her family immigrated from the former Soviet Union as religious and political refugees.
Judge Gustavo Gelpí
Judge Gustavo Gelpí is a judge on the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico. He previously served as Solicitor General of Puerto Rico, and he worked as a federal defender earlier in his career. Gelpí would be the only current Hispanic judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
Myrna Pérez is a leading voting rights lawyer who serves as director of the Brennan Center's Voting Rights and Elections Program. She has litigated numerous high-profile cases in which she has fought to protect the right to vote. If confirmed, Pérez would be the first woman to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit since Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Judge Omar Williams
Judge Omar Williams is a former public defender who has served as a Super Court Judge in Connecticut since 2014. He co-chaired a task force that issued recommendations to make the jury selection process in Connecticut more racially and economically equitable, which were adopted and passed by the Connecticut General Assembly. If confirmed, he would be the first Black public defender to ever serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, and the first public defender since 1964.
Judge Sarah Merriam
Judge Sarah Merriam served as an Assistant Federal Defender in the District of Connecticut from 2007 to 2015, and has been a magistrate judge on the District Court for the District of Connecticut since 2015. If confirmed, she would be the first public defender to serve on U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut since 1964.
Jia Cobb is a former public defender and civil rights lawyer whose practice focuses primarily on housing discrimination and criminal justice misconduct. In 2019, Cobb secured a $400,000 settlement on behalf of eight women who were tenants of a landlord who demanded sexual favors in exchange for lower rents and other tenant benefits. She has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.