Senate panel votes to forward Biden’s nominees to Atlanta court

Victoria Marie Calvert, a nominee for U.S. district Judge for the Northern District of Georgia, speaks at a Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing on Dec. 1, 2021. (YouTube)

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Victoria Marie Calvert, a nominee for U.S. district Judge for the Northern District of Georgia, speaks at a Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing on Dec. 1, 2021. (YouTube)

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to forward two of President Joe Biden’s nominees to become judges on the federal court in Atlanta.

The votes mean the nominations of lawyers Victoria Calvert and Sarah Geraghty are headed to the Senate floor for a final vote.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who tracks judicial nominees, said he expects the Senate to confirm both nominees soon. If so, the Northern District of Georgia court “will have its full complement of judges, which is critical for a busy district that addresses a substantial docket,” he said.

Biden, Tobias added, “has enjoyed great success in nominating and confirming well-qualified, mainstream nominees who are diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ideology and experience.”

Calvert, approved by a 13-9 vote, has been a federal public defender in Atlanta since 2012. Before that, she worked as a lawyer for the King & Spalding law firm, specializing in internal corporate investigations, False Claims Act cases and regulatory enforcement actions. While a private attorney, she also represented pro bono — without pay — two men on Georgia’s death row.

If confirmed, Calvert would become the second Black woman to sit on the Atlanta court.

Before the vote, Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff, a committee member, said Calvert was “highly qualified, committed to upholding the rule of law.” Ossoff also called Geraghty “an outstanding nominee.”

Approved by a 12-10 vote, Geraghty has been a lawyer at the Southern Center for Human Rights since 2003. Over the years, she has been in a number of high-profile cases, filing suits to improve bail policies, private probation practices, and prison and jail conditions.

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Sarah Elisabeth Geraghty, a nominee for U.S. District judge for the Northern District of Georgia, speaks at a Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing on Dec. 1, 2021. (YouTube)

Credit: YouTube

Sarah Elisabeth Geraghty, a nominee for U.S. District judge for the Northern District of Georgia, speaks at a Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing on Dec. 1, 2021. (YouTube)

Credit: YouTube

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Sarah Elisabeth Geraghty, a nominee for U.S. District judge for the Northern District of Georgia, speaks at a Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing on Dec. 1, 2021. (YouTube)

Credit: YouTube

Credit: YouTube

In 2019, she was among lawyers representing mentally ill women being held in isolation in the South Fulton Municipal Regional Jail. The lawsuit alleged the women were living in “barbaric” conditions, and, at a court hearing, U.S. District Judge Billy Ray agreed, calling the conditions “repulsive.”

This past Tuesday, Ray gave preliminary approval to a settlement in which the county agreed to allow the women time out of their cells, improve training for guards and provide better hygiene and clothing.