Judge Silvia Carreno-Coll – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico

Judge Silvia Carreno-Coll has extensive experience with litigation and with case management, as she currently serves as a U.S. Magistrate Judge.  As such, she can be considered a fairly uncontroversial selection for a federal judgeship.

Background

Silvia Luisa Carreno-Coll was born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic in 1963.  Carreno-Coll received her B.A. cum laude from Emerson College in 1983 and his J.D. from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law in 1986.[1]  After graduating, Carreno-Coll joined the Federal Litigation Division of the Puerto Rico Department of Justice.  In 1989, she became a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.[2]

In 1995, Carreno-Coll became Associate Regional Counsel for the Environmental Protection Agency in San Juan.[3]  She held that position until her appointment as a federal magistrate judge in 2011.[4]

History of the Seat

Carreno-Coll has been nominated for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.  This seat opened when Judge Jay Garcia-Gregory moved to senior status on September 30, 2018.  

In August 2018, Carreno-Coll was contacted by Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez to gauge her interest in a federal judgeship.[5]  Carreno-Coll was selected as the primary candidate for the vacancy after interviews with the White House in June and July of 2019.

Legal Experience

Carreno-Coll has spent her entire career in the public sector, starting with her work with the Attorney General’s Office, where she defended police departments in 1983 and civil rights suits.  Similarly, in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she was responsible for defending federal officers against Bivens suits alleging violations of constitutional rights.  However, Carreno-Coll also brought affirmative civil actions seeking to remove houseboats that were obstructing movement in navigable waters.[6] 

From 1995 to 2011, Carreno-Coll worked for the EPA seeking to remedy violations of environmental laws.  For example, Carreno-Coll prosecuted Braulio Agosto Motors, Inc. for intentionally discharging raw sewage into the Espiritu Santo River.[7]

Jurisprudence

Since 2011, Carreno-Coll has served as a full-time U.S. Magistrate Judge with the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.  During his career, Carreno-Coll has presided over 15 cases that have proceeded to verdict or judgment.[8] 

Among the most notable cases he handled, Carreno-Coll presided over the jury trial arising from a car crash, which resulted in a $6 million jury verdict for the plaintiff.[9]  She also presided over an action in diversity arising from damages from a dog bite, which also ended in a verdict for the plaintiff.[10]

Overall Assessment

Nominations to the District of Puerto Rico have rarely brought the same degree of partisan fervor as those to other courts.  Judge Carreno-Coll’s nomination is unlikely to be any different.  Given her extensive experience, she will likely get bipartisan support.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., Silvia Carreno-Coll: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] Id. at 2.

[3] See id. 

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 36.

[6] United States v. Members of the State of Luis Boothby, 16 F.3d 19 (1st Cir. 1994).

[7] See United States v. Braulio Agosto, et al., 617 F.3d 541 (1st Cir. 2010).

[8] See Carreno-Coll, supra n. 1 at 11.

[9] See Quiles-Velar v. Ox Bodies, Inc., 823 F.3d 712 (1st Cir. 2016).

[10] See Correa-Zayas v. Miranda Menchaca, et al., No. CV-15-1585 (D.P.R.).

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