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DC federal court to get its first openly LGBTQ judge

The latest round of judicial nominees brings President Biden's total number of federal judicial picks to 95.

WASHINGTON (CN) — President Joe Biden announced five new judicial nominees Wednesday, including one woman who would be the first LGBTQ judge to serve the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and two former public defenders selected for circuit court judgeships.

Ana Reyes is currently a partner at Williams & Connolly in Washington, where she's worked since 2001. Reyes also spent time as a federal law clerk on the Second Circuit. She earned her undergraduate degree from Transylvania University, her masters degree from Johns Hopkins School of International Studies and her law degree from Harvard Law School.

If confirmed, she would be the court's first openly LGBTQ judge and its first female Hispanic judge, marking another step in Biden's continued effort to expand both the demographic and professional diversity of the nation's highest courts.

For the Second Circuit, Biden tapped Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam, and for the First Circuit, Lara E. Montecalvo. Both served as court-appointed attorneys for indigent defendants.

This new round of nominees brings Biden's total number of nominees to 95, as the White House strategizes filling judicial vacancies in the lead-up to the 2022 midterms. During the first year of his presidency, Biden's nominees were confirmed to the federal bench at a rate not seen since John F. Kennedy's administration.

Merriam, a federal judge for the District of Connecticut and former magistrate judge, served as an assistant federal public defender in Connecticut from 2007 to 2015. At the start of her career, she worked on political campaigns and served as an associate at Cowdery, Ecker & Murphy. Merriam also clerked for judges on the Second Circuit and the District of Connecticut. She earned her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, her law degree from Yale Law School, and her master of laws degree from Duke Law School.

Monteclavo currently works as a public defender in Rhode Island where she has served in the public defender's office since 2004. She previously led the office's appellate division and spent time as both an appellate and a trial attorney. From 2000 to 2004, Monteclavo was a trial attorney in the Department of Justice's tax division. She earned her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College and her law degree from Boston College Law School.

If confirmed, Monteclavo would fill the vacancy left by George W. Bush appointee Jeffrey Howard, who sought senior status from his role as chief judge on the First Circuit at the end of March, making the court entirely made up of Democratic appointees.

Two other individuals were nominated for district court judgeships on Wednesday.

Biden also on Wednesday nominated Judge Elizabeth Hanes to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where she currently works as a magistrate judge.

Prior to her time as a judge, Hanes was a civil litigator with Consumer Litigation Associates and also spent seven years as an assistant federal public defender in Virginia. Early in her career, she clerked for judges on the Fourth Circuit and in the Southern District of West Virginia. Hanes earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Richmond and her law degree from the University of Richmond School of Law.

Anne M. Nardacci, Biden's pick for the Northern District of New York, is a partner at Boise Schiller Flexner, a law firm in Albany where she's worked for more than 15 years. She previously worked as an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Nardacci earned her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree from Cornell Law School.

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