Tiffany M. Cartwright

Nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington

  • Court District Court

On January 19, 2022, President Joe Biden nominated Tiffany M. Cartwright to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Washington, to the seat vacated by Judge Benjamin Settle. Before her confirmation on July 12, 2023, Cartwright was a partner at MacDonald Hoague & Bayless, where she specialized in civil rights and employment litigation. 

On January 19, 2022, President Joe Biden nominated Tiffany M. Cartwright to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Washington, to the seat vacated by Judge Benjamin Settle. Ms. Cartwright is a partner at MacDonald Hoague & Bayless, where she specializes in civil rights and employment litigation. 

Biography 

Tiffany M. Cartwright was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1985 and grew up in Kitsap County, Washington. She graduated with distinction from Stanford University in 2007 and continued to Stanford Law School, getting her J.D. in 2010. At Stanford Law, Ms. Cartwright was Co-Editor in Chief of the Stanford Law & Policy Review and a member of the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, where she helped draft two amicus briefs and one merits brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. She also interned in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Washington and the U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section, which prosecutes public corruption cases.  

Legal Experience 

Following law school, Ms. Cartwright clerked for Justice Dana Fabe on the Alaska Supreme Court from 2010 to 2011 and Judge Betty B. Fletcher on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2011 to 2012. From 2012 to 2014, she was a litigation associate in Jenner & Block LLP’s Chicago office, where she focused on complex civil litigation primarily in federal court. She also maintained an active pro bono practice, representing individuals in death penalty appeals. Ms. Cartwright was part of two trial teams that litigated multi-week federal jury trials resulting in victories for Jenner’s clients; she was also the co-author of an amicus brief relied on by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hall v. Florida, which held that the execution of individuals with intellectual disabilities violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. 

In 2014, Ms. Cartwright joined the Seattle office of MacDonald Hoague & Bayless, a leading civil rights firm in the Pacific Northwest. She was named partner in 2018. Since joining the firm, Ms. Cartwright has focused on civil rights cases brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and employment discrimination cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Washington Law Against Discrimination. She has tried cases in state and federal court, argued before the Washington Supreme Court, and served as lead counsel in numerous state and federal employment and civil rights matters.  

Representative Cases 

Civil Rights 

Ms. Cartwright is an experienced civil rights litigator, specializing in cases brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; this federal statute provides an individual the right to sue state government employees and others acting “under color of state law” for civil rights violations. For example, in Hordon v. Kitsap County Sheriff’s Dep’t, Ms. Cartwright represented a 71-year-old activist, Mr. Hordon, who displayed signs in a public park with messages including “Save Earth” and “VOTE.” After Mr. Hordon refused to remove his signs based on his First Amendment rights, he was arrested, held in jail for the night, and given a criminal trespass warning that banned him from the park for life. Mr. Hordon sued under § 1983, challenging the park’s signs policy and the county’s trespass procedure. As a result of the lawsuit, the park adopted a new policy that was more protective of First Amendment rights and the county agreed to make changes to its trespass procedure. Mr. Hordon also obtained a settlement for damages.  

Ms. Cartwright has also handled various cases involving victims of police misconduct. In Dunlap v. King County, she represented the mother and estate of a Black high school senior, MiChance Dunlap-Gittens, who was shot and killed by King County Sherriff’s Officers during a nighttime, undercover sting operation. The officers who killed the teenager were looking for a different teenage boy who they incorrectly believed was involved in a fatal hit-and-run. Ms. Cartwright obtained a $2.25 million settlement, a statement apologizing for the loss of life, and an agreement between the Sherriff’s Office and family to advocate for the adoption of body-worn cameras by officers. In Thomas v. Cannon, she represented the family of Leonard Thomas, an unarmed Black man who was killed on his front porch by a SWAT sniper while he held his four-year-old son in his arms. Ms. Cartwright delivered the opening statement and examined eight witnesses during a three-week federal jury trial, which resulted in a $15 million verdict for the family. This was one of the largest civil rights verdicts in Washington state history.  

Additionally, Ms. Cartwright has protected individuals from discrimination based on disability and race. In Choquette v. Warner, she represented Mr. Choquette, an incarcerated individual who was denied pain medication to treat his multiple sclerosis. When Mr. Choquette’s symptoms worsened, the Washington Department of Corrections denied requests to increase his prescription dosage and withheld medication altogether for five months. At the conclusion of a federal jury trial in which Ms. Cartwright delivered the opening statement and closing rebuttal and handled numerous witnesses, the jury found that the defendants violated Mr. Choquette’s Eighth Amendment rights by showing “deliberate indifference” to his pain and medical needs. He was awarded $549,000. From 2019 to 2021, Ms. Cartwright served as pro bono local counsel to the Campaign Legal Center in Aguilar v. Yakima County, a case litigated under the Washington Voting Rights Act. Latinx residents of Yakima County alleged they did not have an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, despite making up a majority of the county’s population. The case resulted in an agreement by Yakima County to adopt a single-member district election system for county commissioners and redraw district boundaries. 

Employment Discrimination 

Ms. Cartwright has represented a wide range of plaintiffs in employment disputes, including restaurant workers, agricultural workers, healthcare workers, prison guards, sheet metal workers, and video game artists. In Murphy v. Wash. Dep’t of Corrections, she represented a corrections officer, Ms. Murphy, who was sexually harassed by a coworker. Investigation revealed that prior to his employment with the Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC), the coworker had a long history of sexually harassing women and girls. Ms. Murphy’s lawsuit alleged that the WDOC failed to take adequate corrective action to remedy or prevent his actions, in violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination. Before trial, a stipulated judgment of $282,500 was entered in favor of Ms. Murphy. In Roberts v. King County Department of Public Defense, Ms. Cartwright represented a career public defender with a significant hearing impairment who alleged that accommodations related to her disability were counted against her when she applied for a work promotion. See No. 17-2-13026-1 (Pierce Cty. Sup. Ct.). Ultimately, the case ended when Ms. Roberts decided to dismiss her claims. 

Wrongful Convictions 

Ms. Cartwright has worked to free innocent people who have been wrongfully imprisoned. Since 2018, she has represented two plaintiffs from the “Fairbanks Four,” a group of Alaska Native and Native American men who were wrongfully convicted for the murder of a white teenager and spent 17 years in prison. After substantial evidence came to light of their actual innocence and significant police misconduct, the State of Alaska offered to release the men from prison, vacate their convictions, and dismiss all charges against them, but only if all four men agreed to release their civil rights claims against the city and its police officers. After they were freed, the plaintiffs sued seeking to invalidate the release of their civil claims. The City of Fairbanks initially won a motion to dismiss; however, in 2020 the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that there were no outstanding criminal judgments against the men that would bar their civil rights claims. In 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari, and the case is currently back in federal district court to determine the validity of the release.   

In Browning v. Baker, Ms. Cartwright represented Paul Browning, who spent 33 years on Nevada’s Death Row for a murder he did not commit. The Ninth Circuit found that Mr. Browning’s conviction was the result of numerous constitutional violations, including the prosecutor withholding exculpatory evidence. After more than three decades in prison, the charges against him were finally dismissed in January 2020.   

Professional Activities and Accolades 

Outside of her legal practice, Ms. Cartwright devotes substantial time to professional and civic involvement. She has served on the Rules Committee of the Federal Bar Association of the Western District of Washington since 2016, where she helps identify and draft annual revisions to the local federal civil court rules. Additionally, since 2018 she has served on the Board of Directors for Legal Voice, an organization dedicated to advancing women’s rights throughout Washington state. Ms. Cartwright has written pro bono amicus briefs on behalf of Legal Voice and the Washington Employment Lawyers Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being recognized by Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star” in Washington for 2019–2021.  

On April 25, 2022, President Biden nominated Nancy Maldonado to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  

Ms. Maldonado is a labor and employment attorney who has dedicated her career to representing workers. A partner at leading civil rights firm Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C., she has litigated extensively in the Northern District. She would be the first Latina to serve as a federal judge in the state of Illinois and the Seventh Circuit, which covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.  

Biography 

Ms. Maldonado was born in Skokie, Illinois to parents who had migrated from Puerto Rico. Ms. Maldonado graduated from Harvard College cum laude in 1997, where she was on the Dean’s List all four years. Before law school, she was a paralegal at Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C., a small civil rights firm where she is currently a partner. She earned a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2001. At Columbia, she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and served on the editorial board of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. She also completed internships at Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos, a Peruvian human rights organization, and interned at top law firms such as Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. After law school, Ms. Maldonado completed a clerkship with Judge Rubén Castillo of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 

Legal Experience 

After her clerkship, Ms. Maldonado returned to Miner, Barnhill & Garland, P.C. as an Associate in 2003. Ms. Maldonado was then promoted to Partner in 2010. Her work at the firm, detailed below, has largely been in federal court and has focused on representing plaintiffs in labor and employment, civil rights, and fraud cases. 

While practicing at Miner, Barnhill & Garland, P.C., Ms. Maldonado also served in state government. For example, in 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker appointed her to the Illinois State Police Merit Board; the Board selects state police officers through a fair and equitable process and is responsible for the promotion and discipline of these officers. More recently, in 2021, the Illinois Attorney General appointed her to serve as a Special Assistant Attorney General investigating consumer fraud. Ms. Maldonado has also been selected to serve as a monitor of numerous consent decrees resolving employment cases brought by the Illinois Attorney General.  

Civil Rights 

Ms. Maldonado has litigated a wide range of civil rights cases outside of the employment context. She has protected First Amendment rights, challenged racially discriminatory policies, and defended reproductive rights. For example, in Brighton Park Neighborhood Council v. Berrios, she represented three community organizations that alleged that the Cook County Assessor discriminated against Black and Latinx property owners by illegally shifting property tax burdens from white property owners to Black and Latinx property owners. The organizations brought claims under the Fourteenth Amendment, Fair Housing Act, and state law. After the suit was filed, a new Cook County Assessor was elected, leading to reforms and the ultimate voluntary dismissal of the claims.  

In Vergara v. City of Waukegan, Ms. Maldonado represented residents of the City of Waukegan who sued their city for violations of the First Amendment. The residents claimed that their First Amendment rights were violated because of their opposition to a City ordinance, they were denied entrance to a city council meeting, retaliated against, and prevented from gathering. The Northern District of Illinois granted summary judgement to two plaintiffs and denied the City officials’ claims of qualified immunity. After the Seventh Circuit affirmed the lower court decision, the parties settled.  

Labor and Employment  

Ms. Maldonado’s largest practice area is plaintiff-side labor and employment. She has represented a wide range of plaintiffs, including pipefitters, doctors, bricklayers, drivers, and farmworkers.  

Ms. Maldonado has represented many individuals in employment discrimination cases. For example, in Abreu v. City of Chicago, Ms. Maldonado represents a Puerto Rican bricklayer who faced severe discrimination at work when a supervisor called him racial slurs and tried to push him into a six-foot hole on a jobsite. Mr. Abreu brought claims under Title VII, the Fourteenth Amendment, and state law. The case is still pending with a trial set for June 2022. In Butler v. Illinois Bell Telephone Co., Ms. Maldonado represented a customer service phone operator who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and denied protection under the Family Medical Leave Act. Under her representation, the judge declined the defendant’s efforts to dismiss the case early in the litigation.  

In Stuart v. Local 727, Ms. Maldonado represented Ms. Stuart, who sued her union under Title VII, alleging sex discrimination. Ms. Stuart claimed that because of her sex, the union failed to refer her for driving jobs on television and movie sets. Drivers on television and movie sets made about twice the wage of other bus drivers, but a woman had never been referred to perform any of those jobs. The case was initially thrown out by the district court, but Ms. Maldonado persuaded the Seventh Circuit to reverse the dismissal (the panel also reassigned the case, citing the district judge’s “unmistakable . . . tone of derision”). The parties ultimately settled.  

Ms. Maldonado also has significant class action experience. In Ortega v. Leslie Farms, she represented migrant farmworkers in a class action lawsuit. The workers claimed that, among other things, their employers violated state labor law by failing to pay overtime wages and provide mandatory breaks; following discovery, the parties settled the case. In Hernandez v. Kovacevich, Ms. Maldonado represented seasonal farmworkers who worked at fruit farms. The workers claimed that their employers violated the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and state law by requiring them to perform unpaid, off-the-clock work before the start of their shifts. After class certification, the parties settled and class members received significant compensation.  

Professional Activities and Accolades  

Ms. Maldonado has done significant community work. She has served on the Board of Directors of La Casa Norte, an organization that serves homeless youth and families; Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights; and Apna Ghar (Our Home), a gender justice organization. Ms. Maldonado also founded the non-profit Chicago Yoga Project, an organization aimed at promoting non-violence through yoga classes and teacher training.  

Ms. Maldonado has received numerous awards including Mentor of the Year, Hispanic Lawyers’ Association of Illinois; Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow, Harvard Law School; and Notable Minority Lawyer by Crain’s Chicago Business.  

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