Senate Judiciary Committee Advances More Public Defenders to Federal Bench 

Press Release

Press Contact

Zack Ford

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 16, 2022 – Today the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced four more judicial nominees – all women — for consideration by the full Senate. Two of these four women have substantial experience as public defenders, and one has spent her career advocating for workers’ rights and other civil rights issues. 

Judge Sarah A.L. Merriam, nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, has served as a U.S. District Court Judge since last year. She served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for seven years prior to her current judgeship. In addition to her years on the bench, Judge Merriam spent eight years as an Assistant Federal Defender for the District of Connecticut.  

Lara Montecalvo, nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, has dedicated almost her entire career to serving as a public defender. She has worked in the Rhode Island Public Defender’s Office since 2004, rising from a trial attorney all the way up to Chief Public Defender, a position she has served in since 2020. Her extensive courtroom experience includes 65 cases that she has briefed and argued before the Rhode Island Supreme Court.  

The two district court nominees the Committee advanced today were Nina Nin-Yuen Wang (District of Colorado) and Tiffany M. Cartwright (Western District of Washington). Ms. Cartwright notably dedicated her career to civil rights litigation — in particular, cases in which the state government has unlawfully burdened citizens for exercising their constitutional rights, as well as employment discrimination and wrongful conviction cases. 

Alliance for Justice President Rakim H.D. Brooks issued the following statement: 

“It’s impressive to see the Committee advance even more brilliant women who will bring professional diversity to the federal bench. Workers’ rights advocates are particularly lacking on our courts and Ms. Cartwright will bring substantial experience and perspective to her role as a judge. 

“It is disappointing, however, that a logjam is developing in the Senate confirmation process. Only five circuit court judges have been confirmed so far this year, but there are now eight more that have advanced out of committee. Even when those are confirmed, another dozen vacancies will still remain on our circuit courts. We see the damage that conservative judges and justices are doing to our democracy, so filling every judicial vacancy must be a top priority for the Senate and the White House for the rest of 2022.  Let’s not wait to find out what happens in November.”