Senate confirms Biden judicial picks in Massachusetts, Washington

A view of the judge's chair in court room 422 of the New York Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street February 3, 2012. Picture taken February 3, 2012. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES- Tags: CRIME LAW) - GM1E82D13FE01
  • U.S. Senate confirms Angel Kelley and David Estudillo as district court judges in Massachusetts, Washington
  • Senate has confirmed 11 of President Joe Biden's judicial nominees

(Reuters) - Two more of President Joe Biden's judicial nominees were confirmed on Tuesday, as Democrats in control of the U.S. Senate continue to move rapidly to approve his picks for the bench with votes on new judges in Massachusetts and Washington state.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Angel Kelley and David Estudillo to serve as federal district court judges in Massachusetts and the Western District of Washington, bringing to 11 the number of Biden's 43 picks that have won the chamber's approval so far.

Kelley, who has served as a state court judge since 2009, is now set to become the second Black woman judge and the second Asian-American judge to serve on the federal bench in Massachusetts. She was confirmed on a 52-44 vote.

She was previously a federal prosecutor, a clinical instructor at Harvard Law School and an attorney for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. She began her legal career as an attorney at the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn.

Biden has been nominating judges who are not just personally diverse, but also come from diverse professional backgrounds, reaching beyond the usual pool of former prosecutors and lawyers from corporate law firms to public defenders and civil rights lawyers.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, introduced Kelley as a judge who "has made it a personal mission to bring about change through her role on the bench," during her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in June.

She was nominated to fill a seat vacated when U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock moved to senior status in 2015.

The Senate also voted 54-41 to confirm Estudillo, a son of Mexican immigrants. He is the presiding judge of the Grant County Superior Court in Ephrata, Washington and the president of the Washington State Superior Court Judges' Association.

He was previously a solo practitioner at Estudillo Law Firm from 2005 to 2015, where he focused on immigration law and civil litigation. He earlier practiced at the law firms Scheer & Zehnder and Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward.

Estudillo was nominated to a seat previously held by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton, an appointee of former Republican President George W. Bush who took senior status in 2019 and retired last year.

Read more:

Biden judicial picks win Senate backing at pace not seen since Nixon

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Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at nate.raymond@thomsonreuters.com.