A federal defender based in Atlanta, Victoria Calvert’s nomination continues the trend of public defenders being nominated for the federal bench under President Biden.
Victoria Marie Calvert got a B.A. from Duke University in 2003 and then attended the New York University Law School, graduating in 2006. Following her graduation, Calvert spent six years at King and Spalding in Atlanta where she worked in the Special Matters and Government Investigations group. Since 2012, Calvert has worked for the Federal Defender in Atlanta.
History of the Seat
Calvert has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. This seat was vacated on May 8, 2021, when Judge Thomas Thrash moved to senior status.
Calvert spent the first six years at the Atlanta office of King and Spalding. While her work here was largely focused on investigations and white collar defense, Calvert also participated in the firm’s pro bono program. For example, Calvert was part of the legal team for Nicholas Bryant, who challenged the death sentence he received for murder during an armed robbery. See Bryant v. State, 288 Ga. 876 (2011). The Georgia Supreme Court reversed the death sentence, finding that the trial court allowed inadmissible victim impact testimony regarding the nature of the crime itself. Id. at 896-97.
Since 2012, Calvert has worked as a federal defender, in which role she represents indigent defendants in the federal criminal justice system. Among the clients she represented, Calvert argued on behalf of her client, Santas Hernandez, that evidence obtained from a legally dubious traffic stop should be suppressed. The District Court agreed that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation, but found a Terry stop could be justified through the “collective knowledge” doctrine indicating that the Defendant was engaging in prostitution. See United States v. Hernandez, 17 F. Supp. 3d 1255 (N.D. Ga. 2014). Calvert also unsuccessfully challenged her client’s conviction for discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, arguing that assaulting a police officer with a dangerous weapon did not qualify as a predicate crime of violence. See United States v. Bates, 960 F.3d 1278 (11th Cir. 2020).
Calvert’s youth and experience as a public defender is a recognition of President Biden’s new emphasis on drawing judges from the pool of indigent defenders. While her background doesn’t mean that Calvert is likely to rule any differently on the bench, it is nonetheless likely to draw opposition. The fact that Calvert was nominated and remains likely to be confirmed is a testament to the impact of the Georgia runoff elections on the federal judiciary.
The two Georgia district court nominations is living proof that elections have consequences. Georgia voters came out & voted for senators Ossoff & Warnock & as a result we get two young & progressive female nominees. Trump nominated 4 conservative white men to the same court during his term.
These are two outstanding nominees & I expect more of the same for the 11th circuit nominee. If it’s not Leslie Abrams Gardner then I would assume it would be somebody with a progressive background with diversity at the forefront of the decision as to who to nominate.
Georgia along with New York, New Mexico & Connecticut have done a great job nominating young, progressive & diverse nominees.
For the 11th circuit, I’d hope for Lauren Sudeall (GSU Law Professor and former John Paul Stevens clerk) who also worked for the Southern Center for Human Rights.
We have spoken in length on other post about possible nominees for the 11th circuit vacancy. There are a wealth of possibilities that would be as good or even better then the two district court nominees.
I think the main point of conversation in previous post is does Leslie Abrams Gardner have first right of refusal for this vacancy. With her being an Obama district court judge confirmed 100 to 0 & of course being the sister of Stacey Abrams, I would assume she is the front runner.
But I definitely agree there are plenty of great possibilities for this seat & Lauren Sudeall has been mentioned & I would agree would be one of those great possibilities.
I would actually prefer Fred Smith Jr. for the 11th Circuit, Sudeall would be an absolutely excellent choice as well as we have discussed. I’d actually prefer to appoint Smith Jr. to the DC Circuit Court.
Besides the atrocious New Jersey picks & numerous bad picks from Washington state & California, the next worst decision by the Biden administration concerning judicial nominations is to only consider DC area residents for the DC circuit. That’s a horrible decision.