Published on: Tuesday, April 26, 2022

President Joe Biden on Wednesday moved to further diversify the federal bench in terms of demographics and job experience with five new judicial nominees, including two women with backgrounds as public defenders selected as appellate judges (article available here).

Biden nominated Lara Montecalvo, the top public defender in Rhode Island, to serve on the Boston-based First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and U.S. District Judge Sarah Merriam in Connecticut to join the New York-based Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The nominees also include Ana Reyes, a litigator at law firm Williams & Connolly who immigrated to the United States as a child and would become the first Hispanic woman and openly LGBTQ person to serve as a district court judge in Washington, D.C.

Combined with two other district court nominees in New York and Virginia, Biden has nominated 92 federal appellate and district court judges since taking office last year.

A majority of Biden's picks have been women and people of color. Many have backgrounds other than as corporate lawyers or prosecutors, more traditional career paths for judges, including 27 who were current or former public defenders representing indigent defendants.

Three of Wednesday's nominees worked as public defenders: Montecalvo, Merriam and Elizabeth Hanes, a magistrate judge nominated to be a district court judge in the Eastern District of Virginia. Biden nominated Merriam last year to her current position.