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Biden to nominate two Maryland women to become federal judges, including the first woman of color

Democratic President Joe Biden intends to nominate two women to the federal bench in Maryland, including one who would be the first woman of color to ever serve as a federal judge in the state.

The White House said Tuesday that Biden will nominate Deborah Boardman and Lydia Griggsby to become U.S. District Court judges. Boardman is currently a magistrate judge, while Griggsby has served on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims since 2014.

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“These two judges will safeguard the rights of all Marylanders, uphold the Constitution and rule of law, and faithfully follow the judicial oath to ‘do equal right to the poor and to the rich,’” U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said in a statement. “I am confident that both of these judges will serve the people of Maryland very well once confirmed for these lifetime appointments.”

Griggsby, a Baltimore native and former chief counsel for Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, would be the first woman of color to serve as a judge on the district court in Maryland.

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U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Griggsby has spent over 20 years in public service “fighting for Americans’ rights in a wide range of roles including on the bench, in Congress, and at the Department of Justice.”

“Judge Griggsby’s deep commitment to public service and justice for all is what we all want in our courts. I look forward to the day she is sworn in as the first woman of color on the federal bench in Maryland,” Van Hollen, also a Maryland Democrat, said in a statement.

Griggsby and Boardman were among 10 individuals announced to fill vacancies on the circuit and district courts.

“The highly qualified candidates in this group reflect the president’s deeply held conviction that the federal bench should reflect the full diversity of the American people — both in background and in professional experience,” the White House said in a statement.

They would replace Richard D. Bennett and Ellen L. Hollander, who decided to become senior judges once their successors are confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Bennett was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush; Hollander was appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama.

A third spot is expected to open next month when Catherine C. Blake takes senior status.

In the federal system, a senior judge is only semiretired and still handles cases, although with a reduced case load.

Maryland also has a vacancy at the top spot in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, after Robert K. Hur stepped down earlier this year following three years in the position.

The nomination of Boardman 46, comes just two years after she became a magistrate judge. Before that, she spent 11 years as a member of the Office of the Federal Public Defender.

“Judge Boardman will be an incredible asset to an already esteemed bench,” said attorney Tonya Kelly, a former federal prosecutor. “She is brilliant, thoughtful, and diligent, of course, but more importantly, she spent her career advocating for truth, fairness, and justice — for every person.”

Griggsby, 53, serves on the federal claims court, which hears monetary claims against the government, such as breach of contract, patent disputes, tax refund claims and protests over contract bidding procedures.

From 2005 to 2014, she was chief counsel for privacy and information policy and privacy counsel for Leahy, which included the period when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. Prior to that, she was a counsel on the Senate Select Committee on Ethics from 2004 to 2005.

She served as an assistant U.S. attorney, practicing in the civil division, for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia from 1998 to 2004. She was a trial attorney in the commercial litigation branch in the civil division of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1995 to 1998. Griggsby began her legal career as an associate with DLA Piper in Baltimore from 1993 to 1995.

Brenda Brown Rever, chair and founder of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, said she has known Griggsby since she was a student at the Park School, and said Griggsby has spoken to the young women in her program.

“She is a very sensitive, thoughtful, kind person,” Rever said, recalling her message to the young women: “‘Don’t rule out any opportunities that come to you.’”

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