April 28, 2021

Durbin Highlights Judicial Nominees' Experience as Federal Public Defenders in Judiciary Committee Hearing

Both Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominee to be United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit; and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, nominee to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit, have experience as federal public defenders—background that is noticeably lacking on the federal circuit courts

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit; and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, President Biden’s nominee to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit, during today’s nominations hearing.  Durbin highlighted the nominees’ experience as federal public defenders—background that is noticeably lacking on the federal circuit courts.  Ms. Jackson-Akiwumi worked as a staff attorney with the Federal Defender Program for the Northern District of Illinois for ten years.  And Judge Jackson served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the appeals division of the Office of the Federal Public Defender in the District of Columbia.  Out of 179 current federal circuit court judgeships, there are only two judges who spent a significant part of their legal career as federal public defenders.

“You both have an extraordinary background in having served in the federal public defender’s office representing… people who often struggle in our system of justice.  I think we know that we are engaged in a national conversation about justice, long overdue.  And it has raised questions about law enforcement, questions about sentencing, questions about incarceration, and calls into question the agenda of this Committee on the criminal justice side.  You have a special perspective that you bring to this that many nominees do not in light of what you have done with your life,”Durbin said. 

Durbin then asked the nominees to draw upon their distinguished careers in public service to comment on the state of justice in America today.

Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.

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