Patricia Giles – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

In 2017, Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine recommended federal prosecutor Patricia Giles to be appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. However, she was not nominated. In 2018, they recommended her again. She was, again, not nominated. As such, when Giles was recommended for a judgeship in 2021, one wondered if Giles would be third time unlucky. As it happens, Giles’ co-recommendee, Judge Michael Nachmanoff, was nominated to the Eastern District. However, Giles was also picked for the court and looks poised to be confirmed with bipartisan support.

Background

Patricia Tolliver Giles received a B.A. from the University of Virginia in 1995 and then got a J.D. from University of Virginia Law School in 1998.

After graduation, Giles clerked for U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. She then spent three years as an Associate at Cooley Godward LLP before becoming a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Giles is still with the office.

History of the Seat

Giles has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. This seat opened on May 1, 2020, when Judge Liam O’Grady moved to senior status. No nomination was made by the Trump Administration to fill this vacancy, and in May 2021, Giles was recommended by Virginia Senators to fill the vacancy, alongside U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Nachmanoff. Giles was nominated on June 30, 2021.

Legal Experience

Setting aside three years at Cooley, Giles has spent virtually her entire legal career as a federal prosecutor, working on a number of prominent cases.

In particular, Giles helped lead many prosecutions of figures in the MS-13 gang. For example, Giles prosecuted four MS-13 members charged with stabbing 17-year-old Brenda Paz to death. Paul Bradley, ‘I Did Not Kill Ms. Paz’ Eldest of Gang Members on Trial in Stabbing Death Testifies He Played No Role, Richmond Times Dispatch, May 5, 2005. Giles also prosecuted MS-13 member Yimmy Pineda-Penado of Alexandria, securing a 210 month sentence against him for child sex trafficking. MS-13 Clique Leader Sentenced to 210 Months for Child Sex Trafficking, U.S. Fed News, Dec. 14, 2012.

In other matters she worked on, Giles prosecuted Keith Reed, Stanley Winston, Anthony Cannon, and Tobias Dyer for a string of robberies in Northern Virginia. The defendants challenged their convictions on appeal, arguing that the government’s decision to offer cell phone maps at trial that attached their names as labels to individual cell phones violated their Confrontation Clause rights. The Fourth Circuit, however, upheld the convictions, finding any error harmless. United States v. Reed, 780 F.3d 260 (4th Cir. 2014).

Overall Assessment

President Biden’s judicial nominations team has attracted attention (and some criticism) for being strongly focused on appointing public defenders to the bench. As such, the appointment of Giles, a longtime federal prosecutor, can be considered a bit more “traditional.” This factor, combined with Giles’ experience with the courtroom and lack of a controversial background, should ensure strong bipartisan support for her nomination.