Massachusetts District Judge Margaret Guzman has been a fixture of the Worcester legal community for the past thirty years. She has now been tapped for the federal bench.
Guzman received a B.A. from Clark University in 1989, and then obtained a J.D. from Boston University School of Law in 1992.
After graduation, Guzman became a public defender in Massachusetts. In 2005, she became a solo practitioner in Worcester, Massachusetts.
In 2009, Guzman was nominated by Governor Deval Patrick to be a Judge on the Dudley District Court. In 2017, Guzman joined the Ayer District Court, where she currently serves.
History of the Seat
Guzman has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts opened by Judge Timothy Hillman’s move to senior status on July 1, 2022.
Guzman started her legal career as a public defender in Massachusetts. Among the matters she handled as a public defender, Guzman represented Jose Ramos, who shot and killed Ramon Cruz for using a derogatory name for a homosexual when referring to Ramos. See Worcester Man Gets 14 Years for Shooting Neighbor, A.P. State & Local Wire, Aug. 10, 2000. She also represented Brian Martel, who was convicted of stabbing and killing his son while in a psychotic episode. See Father Who Stabbed Sons Pleads Guilty to Reduced Charges, A.P. State & Local Wire, Aug. 31, 2004.
From 2005 to 2009, Guzman worked as a solo practitioner in Worcester. During this time, Guzman represented Anthony Leo, who was convicted of raping a Worcester woman by force after entering her apartment. See Man Gets Life Sentence After Rape Conviction, A.P. State & Local Wire, Mar. 15, 2007.
Guzman has served as a state court judge in Massachusetts since her appointment in 2009. For the first eight years of her career, Guzman served on the Dudley District Court, which holds jurisdiction over felonies up to five years, misdemeanors, ordinance violations, and all civil matters involving less than $25,000 in damages. Since 2017, Guzman has served on the Ayer District Court.
Among the notable matters that she heard as a judge, Guzman held Alberto Sierra without bail after the disappearance of his girlfriend’s five-year-old son. See Amy Crawford, Boyfriend Ordered Held in Mass. Missing Boy Case, A.P., Dec. 24, 2013. Guzman also dismissed charges against Prof. Sabine von Mering arising from a protest where she blocked a coal train to Merrimack Station, the last coal powered power plant in New England. See Jen Crystal, Prof. Arrested For Blocking Coal Train in Climate Protest, The Justice: Brandeis University, Jan. 28, 2020.
Guzman’s tenure on the bench also overlapped with some criticism of the state bench for high rates of acquittals in Driving Under the Influence cases. See Chris Burrell and Neal Simpson, High Acquittal Rate in OUIs; 86% Innocent in Bench Trials; State Supreme Court Calls for Reform, The Patriot Ledger, Nov. 2, 2012. Special counsel for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court noted that, in the period studied, Guzman had acquitted all 149 defendants who appeared before her in bench trials on drunk driving charges. See id. While the Court’s report made it clear that there was no misconduct on the part of the judges involved, it nonetheless called for reform of procedures to ensure that lawyers did not engage in judge shopping. See id.
Guzman has a relatively limited political history, including a donation to Democratic Governor Deval Patrick in 2006.
Having been a judge for thirteen years, Guzman is a relatively conventional choice for the federal bench. If obstacles arise in her path to the bench, they may be drawn from her acquittal rate while on the bench. However, if Guzman can explain that issue, she should have a relatively painless confirmation.