Judge Sherilyn Peace Garnett – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

U.S. District Judge Barry Moskowitz has had luck placing his clerks under the Biden Administration. After Judge Jinsook Ohta, Judge Sherilyn Garnett has now been nominated to the federal bench.


The 52 year old Garnett attended the University of California Riverside, getting a B.A. with honors in 1991, She then received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1995.

After law school, Garnett joined the Chicago office of Altheimer & Gray as an associate before clerking for Judge Barry Moskowitz on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. After a year at the Los Angeles Office of Arnold & Porter, Garnett became a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown of California appointed Garnett to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Garnett currently serves on the Court.

History of the Seat

Garnett has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to a seat vacated on November 4, 2018 by Judge Manuel Real, who the last judge appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson still serving in active status when he left the bench.

On August 28, 2019, President Trump nominated Rick Richmond, a longtime leader in the Federalist Society, to fill this vacancy. However, Richmond never received a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the seat was left open at the end of the Trump Administration.

Legal Experience

Garnett spent the vast majority of her pre-bench legal career as a federal prosecutor. Among the matters she handled, Garnett prosecuted Dana Christian Welch, who was sentenced to 30 months of federal prison for shooting lasers into the cockpits of commercial airliners about to land, causing “flash blindness” in the pilots. See Press Release, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office, Orange County Man Who Fired Lasers at Commercial Aircraft Sentenced to 2.5 Years in Federal Prison, Nov. 3, 2009. Garnett also prosecuted Billy Cottrell, a former Caltech graduate student convicted of participating in a conspiracy to firebomb over 130 vehicles as an act of ecoterrorism. See Nathan McIntire, Judge Orders Former Caltech Grad Student to Serve At Least 18 More Months in Federal Prison, Pasadena Star News, Nov. 16, 2009.

Judicial Experience

Since 2014, Garnett has served as a judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court. In this role, Garnett presides over trial court matters in criminal, civil, family, and other state law matters.


While Garnett has been fairly reticent throughout her career, she was quoted in a number of articles during a 2013 government shutdown caused by a conflict between the Obama Administration and Congressional Republicans. See, e.g., Ian Lovett, Unable to Take Care of Business in L.A., N.Y. Times Blogs, Oct. 1, 2013. In the articles, Garnett was sharply critical of Congress for the burden they placed on government employees, calling their lack of action “really stupid.” See id.

Overall Assessment

As a state judge with a background as a prosecutor, Garnett could attract bipartisan support for confirmation. While some lawmakers may raise eyebrows with her willingness to call their actions “stupid”, it is unlikely that those comments will derail an otherwise smooth confirmation.


  1. Apparently Abudu won’t get a hearing next week because she is under consideration for SCOTUS.

    This is real dumb. Biden isn’t going to pick her, and they should not delay the hearing for a long shot SCOTUS bid.


  2. Schumer is acting like he has a 7 seat majority in the senate, thus he keeps taking his good ole time bringing nominees to the floor….

    And Durbin should be holding hearings for some Circuit court nominees, it’s dumb to think every circuit court nominee is under consideration for the SCOTUS vacancy……..Freeman (3rd Cir) and Abudu (11th Cir) are very likely not to be in SCOTUS running and the SJC should be moving forward with their circuit vacancy.. There is also Davis for the 6th Circuit..


    • Exactly. You would think senator Lujan’s heart attack would light a fire under Schumer & Durbin to have a sense of urgency. Now I guess we’ll get only district court nominees Tuesday & probably 3, 4 nominees at best since apparently having more then a handful at one hearing is only reserved for when Republicans are in charge.

      There are so many things out if Biden & the Democrats control such as Russia/Ukraine, inflation, crime, gas prices…etc… Confirming federal judges are completely in their control & something that can light a fire in their base. They have to do better, plain & simple.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Historically, the judiciary has not been as important to Democratic voters than Republicans. See exit polling from 2016 which showed that Republicans were more likely to have made their vote based on the open SCOTUS seat than the Democrats. That being said, it doesn’t make sense for there to only be 4 nominees in a single nominations hearing.


    • As a Democratic criminal defense lawyer from Iowa, Locher was the obvious front-runner, he was on Obama’s shortlist for the last seat at like 35. And yes, he’s a Democrat, he’s quite young (43 or so), and as he was a white-collar specialist as an AUSA and practiced criminal defense some, his background is less “classic prosecutor” than you’d expect. He’ll be a good judge for a criminal defendant.

      If Biden had two Democratic senators to work with, he likely would’ve chosen Angela Campbell. But Locher is the most conventionally well-qualified Democratic lawyer in the state, and given his age, a really superb nominee for a state with two Republican senators.


    • There are 2 Stephen Lochers in Iowa. One is 78 years old and was a former employee of University of Iowa and seems to have a bunch of donations to Democrats. The second one is this magistrate judge and donated $200 to Biden and the DNC last year (this doesn’t mean that he is a Democrat, he could be a Never Trump conservative). It is possible that the two Lochers are related.


      The question is how you play this. I don’t want to waste any committee or floor time with this nominee that could go toward confirming circuit court judges or far better district court judges. And frankly even if Locher is a Democrat, his background is quite lousy, being a AUSA and a Big Law partner.


      • If he’s a Democrat, I think those qualifications are the best your going to get with blue slips in play no matter if it’s 2022 or 2023. I would nominate him but put him on the back burner unless there is a hearing with only 3 nominees like last week, then I would add him.

        The bottom line is the Democrats should leave no vacancy behind regardless of the midterm results. If the Democrats some how keep the majority then the vacancies & blue slips can be re-evaluated in December. But Schumer should work under the assumption Democrats will lose 5 or more seats & plan votes accordingly.

        Democrats should absolutely work right through November & December after the mid terms confirming judges. I don’t want to hear nothing about the Thurmond rule. That went out the window during the Trump administration.

        Thomas Kirsch was nominated to the 7th circuit on October 21, 2020 & confirmed December 15, 2020. With a 50/50 senate I doubt nothing else will be able to get done post mid term elections so confirming judges should be priority #1, 2 & 3. So I’m fine with confirming crappy Democrats in bright red states as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of Dale Ho type nominees.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Except you can get him confirmed in 2023 if need be. I wouldn’t bother with Locher until all the other nominees that do not require blue slips are finished first. Crappy red state nominees should be in the very last batches in December. If the GOP doesn’t want to work through Christmas, they allow unanimous consent of those nominees.


      • That’s actually one thing I’m not sure how it works. I had asked on an earlier post. In a 50/50 senate, if every Republican decided to boycott & not show up, could VP Harris break the tie to allow votes or would Schumer not be able to schedule votes for judges?


      • @Dequan

        I think it would be fine for quorum, as someone would have to request a quorum call on the floor. If a GOPer is there to object, then you have 51. If none of them show up then there is nobody to request a quorum call. In theory this could get litigated in the courts, but in all likelihood the courts won’t get involved with procedure in Congress.

        My bigger concern is that senators like Sinema and Feinstein may show up sporadically in November and December. And senator Warnock may have to go through another runoff which means campaigning in Georgia in November. And it’s not impossible that it could again decide the Senate.


      • Ah ok that makes sense. Only a senator can request a quorum call. As for your concern, if a Republican isn’t their then theoretically couldn’t the senate confirm judges with 45 or even 40 senators? Or even better, couldn’t any senator just request unanimous consent to confirm a batch of judges & if nobody present objects, they would all be confirmed right on the spot even without senators Warnock & Feinstein? If so, then a Republican would have to show up to object which would then give Democrats the quorum as long as all 50 are present.

        Or am I wrong on something here?


      • Yes, the Senate has voted with less than 50% of its members in the past. In theory you are right, but there will almost certainly be at least one GOPer on the floor whenever the Senate is in session. The idea that the GOP can just not show and thus block any quorum is a pipe dream, and they know that so it won’t happen.
        If nobody objects, then there would be an immediate vote on each judge without the cloture votes and other procedural stuff.

        My concern with Sinema, Feinstein, and Warnock isn’t with the GOP not showing (you are right, if no GOPers show up then it doesn’t matter how many Democrats are on the floor). It’s that they may be absent when there are 50 GOP votes ready to vote no.


  3. Senator Collins would always turn up as she cannot afford to miss a vote and break her 8000 + voting streak .

    Senator Grassley also doesn’t tend to miss votes (apart from when he had covid).

    Like other’s said I would be more concerned about Sen Feinstein and we don’t know how well Sen Lujan will be going forward. And a run off in Georgia.

    As others have pointed out Schumer should be using every day possible this early in the year to clear nominations. I’m disappointed there is only one nomination currently lined up for this week for head of the FDA.


    • Good point, senator Collins doesn’t want to break her streak. I was worried about a scenario in which there is an unexpected SCOTUS vacancy in September or so could the GOP simply block confirmation by simply not showing up. But Shawn’s explanation cleared my mind. For regular judges some of the Democrat concerns are certainly possible but for a SCOTUS vacancy they would all show up. I just hope we see that same commitment post mid term during the lame duck to finish clearing all judicial vacancies.


  4. On another topic, per David Lat, Gregg Costa told reporter Avalon Zoppo of the Texas Lawyer why he plans to step down from the bench:
    “I came to the realization that I’m better suited to being an advocate than a judge. I enjoy it more. I think I’m better at it. And I just didn’t think for the rest of my career I wanted to be the umpire. I wanted to step back into the batter’s box and take some swings myself as the lawyer.I came to the realization that I’m better suited to being an advocate than a judge. I enjoy it more. I think I’m better at it. And I just didn’t think for the rest of my career I wanted to be the umpire. I wanted to step back into the batter’s box and take some swings myself as the lawyer.” “Judges are reactive. Judges don’t create lawsuits, they just react to them. Lawyers, to me, fundamentally, still play the key role in the system.… This view that judges are the pinnacle of the profession is something I guess I have never quite bought into.”

    I have identified the most likely candidates for his seat (his seat is in Houston, but his predecessor Fortunato Benavides’s seat is in Austin. Important to note that the 5th Circuit as never had a Latina or black woman Judge.

    Amparo Monique Guerra (1977) is a Judge on the Texas First District Court of Appeals. She is a Democrat and clerked for former Carter-appointed District Judge Filemon Vela Sr. I believe she is the most likely pick since she would be the first Latina on the court. While she did work for big law, she also did two Public Interest fellowships (one with Texas Rural Legal Aid and the other with Farmworker Legal Services in Michigan). She also served as an Associate Municipal Judge for the City of Houston starting at the age of only 28. Her mother Linda Yanez is a retired Texas Court of Appeals Judge.

    Sarah Beth Landau (1972) is also a Judge on the Texas First District Court of Appeals. She clerked for former Clinton-appointed Judge Vanessa Gilmore and worked as an Assistant Federal Defender for 10 years. She also taught Appellate Law at the Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. While she is more progressive than Guerra, I do not believe she will be the pick since she would not be a first and is also the same age as Costa.

    Veronica Rivas-Molloy (1975) is another Latina Judge on the Texas First District Court of Appeals. While she is a Democrat, she is not as progressive and find her a less likely pick than Guerra. She also clerked for G.H.W. Bush-appointed Judge Ewing Werlein (not that that always matters) and worked exclusively for big law without any Public Interest or Municipal Judge experience like Guerra.

    Frances Bourliot (1979) of the Texas 14th District Court of Appeals (also in Houston) is extremely progressive, but I think she’d more likely be a pick for District Court since she has no clerkship experience (not that that always matters). She is AAPI (which would also make her a first) and served as a plaintiff’s Attorney, an Attorney in the Appellate Division of the Harris County Public Defender’s Office, and as a Staff Attorney with the Texas Defender Service and the Texas Innocence Network.

    Meagan Hassan (1977) of the Texas 14th District Court of Appeals is also extremely progressive. However, she also did no clerkships and would not be a first demographically. Per her bio, she “established rights at the Fifth Circuit (including to film police officers)”, “received the Texas Civil Rights Project pro bono award in 2015”, “taught a continuing law education course on piercing grand jury secrecy to the National Police Accountability Project”, and “has guest lectured concerning civil rights, police practices, and free speech at Texas Southern University and South Texas College of Law’.

    In the unlikely chance the seat goes back to Austin, Justice Chari Kelly (1977) of the Texas Third District Court of Appeals has been mentioned by this site. But she would not be a first and is not progressive.

    none of the Obama-appointed District Court Judges in Houston or Austin are younger than Costa.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very good detailed selection Ethan. Amparo Monique Guerra Would be a solid pick. I think this seat almost certainly has to go to a Latino/Latina nominee. Unfortunately I doubt any of the district court seats will be filled in Texas this year. Hopefully Democrats hold the senate somehow & get rid of blue slips after the midterms. Then we can fill the district court seats with nominees that will make Ted Cruz head explode.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Texas has two district court vacancies. The Gillmore seat & Philip Ray Martinez in El Paso after he died unexpectedly last year.

        I think I would rather take my chances & hold off until after the midterms to see if Democrats can hold the majority. If they don’t, you just pick the moderate next year. But I don’t see Ted Cruz signing off on anybody worth wasting floor time on with blue slips in play.


      • “Hopefully Democrats hold the senate somehow”

        Holding the Senate is more likely than the pundits and media think it is. Quality of candidates matter for Senate races, and the Democrats have the edge on that in basically every competitive race. Senators like Mark Kelly and Warnock are going to run ahead of the generic ballot, and the GOP has poor candidates in pretty much every single race. Obviously if it turns into a big red wave then the Senate will, but I can see a path to holding the Senate even in a R+2-3 environment.


      • From your lips to God’s ears. I’m afraid of a lot of the voter restriction laws more so then I am the Republican candidates. I just want Schumer to act as if losing the senate is a given. If they hold the majority then Biden should be able to come close to if not pass Trump’s 54 circuit court nominees but for now Biden should be able to get more then 35 in the first two years barring a major change such as a long term Democrat sickness or death of course.


    • A few points.

      This is the most right-wing circuit in the country. There are at least 9 judges that are as right-wing or more so that Alito (of the 12 GOP appointed judges, only Southwick and Haynes are reasonable) . Anyone nominated here is going to have to write dissents. You are not going to be able to convince people on this court to vote with you. I suspect that this might have played a part in why Gregg Costa decided to leave. For comparison, the 8th Circuit is 10-1 GOP nominees, but there are really only 4-5 hard right justices.

      The nominee must be a Hispanic. It would be atrocious one of the largest Hispanic populations is unrepresented here. Also this court has only 4 women, so both the Dennis and Costa seats should be women.

      There are 9 seats in the 5th Circ from Texas. There are already 3 judges from the Houston area. There are zero from San Antonio or South Texas. Benavides spent most of his career in South Texas. The person nominated could be from either Houston, San Antonio, or South Texas.

      I did not know that Guerra’s mother was Linda Yanez. I don’t like her Big Law background at all, but the rest of her background isn’t bad at all. The rest of people on your list are not plausible for this vacancy because either they are not Hispanic or not progressive. Although Hassan and Bourloit would be fantastic judges.

      My preference would still be Nina Perales despite her age. For me a strong progressive like her can give you 15-20 years and retire at the appropriate time. I would certainly prefer Perales anyday over a 40 year old Gregg Costa. Youth is only valuable if it is someone with progressive credentials. There are also other good possibilities in San Antonio area. Andre Segura from the Texas ACLU would also be a fantastic pick if a Hispanic man is ok.

      Lastly you get one shot to make your home run pick here. If that person cannot be confirmed, I think you have to elevate Judge Marina Marmalejo, who is not terrible on its face either, although she’s 50.

      Liked by 1 person

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