A Philadelphia native, Judge Mia Perez is part of a four judge package for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
40-year-old Perez received her B.A. degree from Tufts University in 2003 and a J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2006. Perez subsequently spent four years as a public defender in Philadelphia before joining Friedman Schuman as an associate. After a year there, Perez opened her own practice, handling criminal defense and family law.
In 2016, Perez was elected to the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas as a Democrat, where she currently serves.
History of the Seat
Perez has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. This seat opened on March 1, 2021, when Judge Timothy Savage moved to senior status.
Perez started her legal career as a public defender representing indigent clients in the City of Philadelphia. She then spent six years in private practice handling both criminal defense and family law matters. Among her cases, Perez represented Democratic lawmaker Michelle Brownlee, who plead guilty to accepting money from an undercover informant. See Brad Bumsted, 4th Lawmaker Pleads Guilty in Sting Case, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, June 9, 2015.
Perez was also counsel for a co-defendant in a federal robbery case in which Judge Juan Sanchez excluded an out-of-court identification as unduly suggestive. See United States v. Centeno, Criminal Action No. 12-634-2, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85913 (E.D. Pa. June 19, 2013).
From 2016, Perez has served as a Judge on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, which is the primary trial court in Pennsylvania. As a Judge, Perez presides over cases in civil and criminal matters, as well as domestic relations, juvenile, and family law matters.
Among the matters she handled as a judge, Perez sentenced Blair Hawkins to two years of probation for operating an unlicensed mortuary. See Joseph A. Slobodzian, Unlicensed West Philly Undertaker Sentenced to Two Years’ Probation For Improperly Handling Bodies, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Mar. 8, 2017.
Among her legal rulings, Perez suppressed evidence of a gun recovered from a search of a defendant’s purse, ruling that the officers did not have reasonable suspicion to frisk the defendant and could not search her purse absent an arrest. See Comm. v. Thomas, 2016 Phila. Ct. Com. Pl. LEXIS 604 (Sept. 14, 2016). Perez also upheld a Defendant’s conviction for criminal trespass, finding that there was no statutory requirement that the Commonwealth prove a specific criminal intent in committing the trespass. Comm. v. Quijano, 2017 Phila. Ct. Comm. Pl. LEXIS 338 (Feb. 3, 2017).
In another notable case, Perez dismissed attempted murder charges against a defendant after the complaining witness failed to appear for the preliminary hearing and the Commonwealth attempted to establish probable cause by having the detective testify to statements the witness had made to him. See Comm. v. Harris, 269 A.3d 534 (PA Super. 2022). The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed Perez’s decision, finding that hearsay could not be the basis of establishing probable cause at a preliminary hearing. See id. at 536.
Perez ran for the bench as a Democrat and has given to the Pennsylvania Democratic party.
Writings and Statements
In 2019, Perez was interviewed (alongside fellow judicial nominee and judge Kai Scott) in an article discussing African American vernacular creating issues with court transcripts and records. See Cassie Owens, Hearing What’s Really Said in Court: Lawyers, Judges Discuss African American English and How Not Understanding It Can Defeat Justice, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 7, 2019.
Touted as a “millennial” judge when she was first elected, Perez, while young, has built up a significant reservoir of experience with the law. With the support of her two home state senators, Perez is likely to be confirmed before the end of the Congress.