WASHINGTON, DC – Lara E. Montecalvo’s nomination to serve on the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit cleared a key Senate hurdle today.  In a Senate procedure known as a ‘cloture vote,’ which is a preliminary vote necessary to end debate before final confirmation, Montecalvo received the backing of a majority of the U.S. Senate.

 

Now, Montecalvo, who currently leads the office of the Rhode Island Public Defender, is slated to get confirmed this week to serve as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.  The First Circuit, based in Boston, hears appeals of federal cases from Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Puerto Rico.  The First Circuit is one of thirteen federal appellate courts that sit one rung below the U.S. Supreme Court. 

 

U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, who strongly backed President Biden’s nomination of Lara Montecalvo, say she is expected to get a final confirmation vote by the full U.S. Senate this week and expect her to be confirmed.

 

“Lara Montecalvo is an extremely talented public servant and she will be an outstanding, fair-minded judge.  She has practiced law in every court in Rhode Island and earned high marks for her sound judgement and legal expertise.  She deserves to be confirmed because she is exceptionally well-qualified and will strengthen the court by bringing a diversity of experience to the First Circuit,” said Reed and Whitehouse in a joint statement.

 

Montecalvo has extensive trial and appellate experience handling criminal and civil cases in state and federal courts.

 

Montecalvo, who moved to Rhode Island with her family when she was in the fourth grade, currently serves as the state’s chief public defender and is tasked with providing high-quality legal representation for Rhode Islanders who cannot afford to hire an attorney in criminal, juvenile, and parental rights cases.  Montecalvo has over twenty years of legal experience at the state and federal level.  She and her husband, Craig, have a son.

 

Montecalvo earned a bachelor of arts degree from Swarthmore College and went on to attend Boston College Law School, where she graduated magna cum laude in 2000.

 

After graduating from law school, Montecalvo worked as a trial lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, DC for four years, focusing on civil tax matters in federal courts before joining the Rhode Island Public Defender’s Office in 2004.  Before being confirmed as the state’s Public Defender, Montecalvo served as Chief of the Appellate Division of the Rhode Island Public Defender’s Office.

 

If confirmed by the full U.S. Senate, Montecalvo will fill the vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that was created by Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson announcing her plan to take senior status.  Once a successor is confirmed, Judge Thompson will continue hearing cases, but on a more limited basis.

 

So far during the Biden Administration and the 117th Congress, the U.S. Senate has confirmed 81 federal judges, including 22 circuit court nominees, 59 district court nominees, and the first Black woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court.  When it comes to increasing diversity on the federal bench, the Biden Administration has nominated and the Senate has confirmed the most diverse slate of judges of any U.S. Congress in history, including a record number of nominees with experience serving not only as prosecutors, but also as public defenders, voting rights experts, and civil rights attorneys.  Of the 22 circuit judges confirmed by the U.S. Senate Democrats, 17 are women and 14 are people of color.  Of the 59 district judges, 43 are women.

 

Now that cloture has been invoked on Montecalvo’s nomination, it sets up a period of up to 30 hours of post-cloture debate followed by a final vote on confirmation, which requires a simple majority of the U.S. Senate.  A vote on final confirmation is expected as soon as tomorrow, depending on other U.S. Senate business.