As he continues to move at a historic pace with respect to his judicial nominations, President Biden is announcing five new candidates for the federal bench and two new candidates for District of Columbia courts.
These choices also continue to fulfill the President’s promise to ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds.
For example, this slate includes:
- A nationally recognized leader on voting rights who would be the only Latina serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- A former public defender and current civil rights plaintiff’s attorney who would be the second African American woman judge actively serving on the District Court for the District of Columbia
- A federal prosecutor who would be the first judge of South Asian descent to serve on the District Court for the District of Connecticut
- A Department of Justice lawyer with two decades of civil rights experience, including as Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section in the Civil Rights Division
- A magistrate judge on the D.C. Superior Court with deep experience in domestic violence and family law issues
This is President Biden’s fourth round of names for federal judicial positions, bringing his number of announced federal judicial nominations to 24.
Nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Myrna Pérez is the director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Program at the New York University (NYU) School of Law. Ms. Pérez joined the Brennan Center in 2006. She has also been a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School since 2016. She previously served as an Adjunct Professor of Clinical Law at NYU School of Law from 2013 to 2015. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Ms. Pérez was a Civil Rights Fellow at Relman, Dane & Colfax, a civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C., from 2005 to 2006. Ms. Pérez served as a law clerk for Judge Anita B. Brody on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2004 and for Judge Julio M. Fuentes on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 2004 to 2005.
Nominated to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut
Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam has served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of Connecticut since 2015. Previously, she served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender for the District of Connecticut from 2007 to 2015. Judge Merriam worked on political campaigns in Connecticut from 2006 to 2007. She was an associate at the Connecticut-based law firm Cowdery, Ecker & Murphy from 2003 to 2006. Judge Merriam served as a law clerk for Judge Thomas Meskill on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 2002 to 2003 and for Judge Alvin Thompson on the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut from 2000 to 2002.
Sarala Vidya Nagala is the Deputy Chief of the Major Crimes Unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Connecticut, a role she has held since 2017. Ms. Nagala joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2012, and has served in a number of leadership roles in the office, including as Hate Crimes Coordinator. Previously, Ms. Nagala was an associate at Munger, Tolles, & Olson in San Francisco, California from 2009 to 2012. She began her legal career as a law clerk for Judge Susan Graber on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2008 to 2009.
Judge Omar A. Williams has served as a Superior Court Judge in Hartford, Connecticut since 2016. In that role, Judge Williams has served on the New England Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative, the Sentence Review Division, and the Wiretap Panel. He was previously a Superior Court Judge in New London from 2014 to 2016. Prior to his appointment as a state court judge, Judge Williams was an Assistant Public Defender for the State of Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services from 2003 to 2014.
Nominated to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Jia M. Cobb is a partner at Relman Colfax, where she has practiced since 2012. Her plaintiff-side litigation practice focuses on fair housing, disability discrimination, employment discrimination, and cases at the intersection of civil rights and criminal justice. Ms. Cobb taught trial advocacy as an adjunct professor at American University Washington College of Law in 2011 and was a faculty member at Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop in 2010 and 2011. Prior to her time in private practice, Ms. Cobb served as a trial attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia from 2006 to 2012. She began her legal career as a law clerk for Judge Diane Wood on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 2005 to 2006.
On the local level, President Biden nominated Tovah R. Calderon to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and Judge Kenia Seoane Lopez to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
President Biden’s first judicial nominations announcement was made faster than that of any new President in modern American history, and today’s announcement continues that trend.