New Jersey Monitor: Attorney’s public defender past would offer Supreme Court new perspective, advocates say

Nikita Biryukov

New Jersey


Criminal Justice

This excerpt is from a piece that originally ran on May 31, 2023.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s choice of Noriega to sit on New Jersey’s highest court comes amid a record-setting spate of public defender judicial nominations by President Joe Biden, who has now nominated 37 former public defenders to federal judgeships, according to liberal judicial advocacy group the Alliance for Justice. One, Ketanji Brown Jackson, is now the first former public defender to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Supporters of the shift point to research that shows a different judicial makeup alters sentencing decisions, with former public defenders often issuing shorter sentences and fewer sentences that involve incarceration.


Biden’s nomination of 11 former public defenders to U.S. Circuit Courts, nine of whom have been confirmed so far, surpasses the former record of five set under President Barack Obama. In total, 29 of the former public defenders nominated by Biden to federal courts have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Alliance for Justice says.

Two of those judges, Jackson and Circuit Court Judge Sarah Merriam, have been confirmed to two separate judicial positions under Biden.

Read the complete piece.