Press Releases

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Senate voted to confirm U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Hanes to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA):

“After recommending Judge Hanes for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, we are pleased that the Senate voted to confirm her today. With her previous experience and commitment to public service, we know she will serve our Commonwealth and country with great distinction.”

Last year, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending Judge Hanes for the position following Judge John A. Gibney, Jr.’s decision to take senior status. President Biden announced her nomination on April 27, 2022. Judge Hanes has served as a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District since 2020.

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement on President Biden’s nominations of U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Ballou for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Abingdon Division and Mr. Jamar Walker for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division.

“We are pleased that the President has nominated Judge Ballou and Mr. Walker to fill these vacancies,” said the senators. “We believe both will serve Virginia and our country with great distinction. We hope our colleagues will join us to support these highly qualified nominees.”

In August 2021, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden, recommending Judge Ballou for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia following Judge James P. Jones’ decision to take senior status in August 2021.

In March 2022, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden, recommending Mr. Jamar Walker for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following Judge Raymond A. Jackson’s decision to take senior status in November 2021.

These nominations are subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

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WASHINGTON—U.S Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today introduced legislation that provides an additional $10.3 million to the U.S. Marshals Service and $9.1 million to the U.S. Supreme Court to address the unprecedented security threats to the justices, their families, and court employees. 

The U.S. Marshals Service has already been providing around-the-clock security for the nine Justices at their homes and needs $10.3 million in additional funding for costs that have and will be incurred to provide this protection for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). Similarly, the Supreme Court needs $9.1 million to cover its unexpected, increased security costs.

“Our government institutions are dealing with a record number of threats,” said Sen. Warner. “We saw on January 6 what can happen when we are unprepared for those threats. This legislation will provide the level of funding the Supreme Court needs to protect the justices and court employees.”

“An assassination attempt on one of our Supreme Court Justices is unthinkable, but sadly has become reality,” said Sen. Hagerty. “We must protect our most sacred American institutions, which is why my updated legislation provides the specific amounts requested by the Supreme Court and the U.S. Marshals Service to cover their current security needs. If we, as a Congress, are willing to send tens of billions of dollars for security needs overseas, then surely we can provide a tiny fraction of that amount to protect the men and women of one of the three branches of our federal government. The cost of failing to act is incalculable, as last week’s news made chillingly clear.”

Officials at the Court and the Marshals Service recently provided specific security funding needs to the Appropriations Committee.

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 WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement applauding President Biden’s nomination of U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Hanes to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District (EDVA):

“Judge Hanes has worked in consumer litigation, as a federal public defender, and with AmeriCorps, where she helped create and operate a nonprofit for abused children and crime victims. These experiences demonstrate her commitment to service and have prepared her for the rigor and responsibility of this role. We are eager to vote for her confirmation.”

Last year, Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending Judge Hanes, who has served as a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District since 2020, for the position. Her nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on his intent to support Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court:

“Judge Jackson is a trailblazer and a highly-qualified jurist. Her wide-ranging endorsements – from conservative jurists, civil rights organizations, law enforcement groups, and through her previous bipartisan Senate confirmations – speak to her sterling credentials.

“During her hearing and our meeting, Judge Jackson demonstrated a strong command of constitutional law, a patient and reasoned temperament, and a warm devotion to her family and to the United States. Her confirmation would also take a long overdue step toward making the composition of the Supreme Court better reflect the people it represents by finally including a Black woman.

“After careful consideration, I believe Judge Jackson embodies the highest intellect, impartiality, and honesty, and I look forward to casting my vote in support of her nomination."

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine today sent a letter to President Biden recommending candidates for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. In their letter, the Senators recommended Mr. Jamar Walker, who has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2015, and Judge Kevin Duffan, who has been a Circuit Court Judge on the 2nd Judicial Circuit in Virginia Beach, Virginia since April 2020.

“We are pleased to recommend Mr. Jamar Walker and Judge Kevin Duffan for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following the decision by Judge Raymond A. Jackson to take senior status effective November 23, 2021,” wrote the Senators. “Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation.”

Warner and Kaine recommend these individuals based on their distinguished records and the assessments of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth. The President will now nominate one individual for the vacancy to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nominations are subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Mr. President:

We are pleased to recommend Mr. Jamar Walker and Judge Kevin Duffan for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following the decision by Judge Raymond A. Jackson to take senior status effective November 23, 2021. Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation.

Mr. Walker has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2015 where he prosecutes financial and public corruption crimes. He began his legal career as a law clerk for Judge Jackson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. While an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Mr. Walker co-founded an office-wide Committee on Race, Policing, and Prosecution. He is a current member of the Old Dominion Bar Association, the National LGBT Bar Association, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Association of Black Attorneys, and DOJ Pride. He was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and considers Tidewater his home. Together, these experiences qualify Mr. Walker for this nomination and we are honored to recommend him.

Judge Duffan has been a Circuit Court Judge on the 2nd Judicial Circuit in Virginia Beach, Virginia, since April 2020. Prior to joining the Circuit Court, Judge Duffan served as a judge in the Virginia Beach Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court. Judge Duffan is engaged in the community and with young lawyers as a mentor. He has served on the Virginia Beach African American Cultural Center Board as Vice President, The Governor's School for the Arts Foundation Board, and was President-elect of the Virginia Beach Bar Association before ascending to the bench. These experiences give us confidence that Judge Duffan would make an excellent nominee for this seat.

Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would win confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench. We are honored to recommend them to you.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on President Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court:

“With his historic selection of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden has nominated a qualified jurist with extraordinary credentials and a brilliant legal mind who has been repeatedly confirmed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis.

“I look forward to a timely confirmation hearing in the Senate, fulfilling our constitutional responsibility in a swift manner.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement today on the planned retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer: 

“I am very grateful to Associate Justice Stephen Breyer for his nearly 30 years of service on the Supreme Court. With a distinguished career rooted in public service, Associate Justice Breyer stands as a model for young people all across America who seek to strengthen democracy. I trust that President Biden will carefully select a nominee to replace Associate Justice Breyer, and I look forward to closely reviewing the nominee’s qualifications and experience.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine today sent a letter to the White House recommending candidates for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), which was created when Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. assumed senior status effective November 1, 2021. In their letter, the Senators recommended U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Hanes, who has served as a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District since 2020, and Ms. Melissa O’Boyle, who has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District since 2007.

“[W]e believe either of these individuals would win confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench,” wrote the Senators to President Biden. 

The White House will now nominate one individual for the vacancy to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nominations are subject to confirmation by the full Senate. 

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Mr. President:

We are pleased to recommend U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Hanes and Ms. Melissa O’Boyle for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following the decision by Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. to take senior status effective November 1, 2021. Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation. Judge Hanes has served as a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District since 2020.

Prior to joining the bench, Judge Hanes worked in private practice with Consumer Litigation Associates from 2016 to 2020 in Richmond and Newport News. She also served in the office of the Federal Public Defender in Richmond from 2009 to 2016. In addition, before becoming an attorney, Judge Hanes worked in New York in corporate finance, but left that job to serve as an AmeriCorp VISTA volunteer in West Virginia, where she helped to establish and run a nonprofit organization providing services to abused children and crime victims. Together, these experiences qualify Judge Hanes for this nomination and we are honored to recommend her.

Ms. O’Boyle has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2007. She currently serves as the Criminal Chief of the Norfolk Division and has expertise in public corruption and financial fraud cases. Ms. O’Boyle has prosecuted some of the highest profile and impactful trials in the Eastern District of Virginia, including the 2016 public corruption case against Norfolk Vice Mayor Anthony Burfoot, the 2013 bank fraud case against former Bank of the Commonwealth President Edward Woodward, the 2010 public corruption case against former Norfolk Police Homicide Police Detective Robert Glenn Ford, and the 2009 Ponzi scheme case against Troy Titus. This experience gives us confidence that Ms. O’Boyle would make an excellent nominee for this seat.

Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would win confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench. We are honored to recommend them to you.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) issued the following statement applauding the Senate confirmation of Toby J. Heytens to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit:

“We are glad to know that Toby J. Heytens will serve as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit following today’s successful confirmation in the Senate. Having recommended Mr. Heytens to the President for appointment, we trust that he will serve Virginia and the nation honorably.”

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been supporters of Heytens’ nomination. In May, the Senators sent a letter to the President, recommending Mr. Heytens for the vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, following Judge Barbara M. Keenan’s decision to take senior status in August 2021. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is based in Richmond and hears federal appeals from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina. 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine issued the following statement after the Senate voted to confirm Ms. Patricia Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael S. Nachmanoff for the two judicial vacancies in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division: 

“We are pleased that the Senate voted to confirm Ms. Patricia Tolliver Giles and Judge Michael Nachmanoff to be U.S. District Court Judges in the Eastern District of Virginia. We were proud to recommend both to the President for appointment to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and are confident they will serve the Commonwealth and the country with distinction.” 

Senators Warner and Kaine have been supporters of both nominees. In April, the Senators sent a letter to President Biden recommending Ms. Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge Nachmanoff for the vacancy in the Alexandria Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following Judge Liam O’Grady’s decision to take senior status. Shortly thereafter, another vacancy opened in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to succeed Judge Anthony Trenga, who assumed senior status June 1, 2021.

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 WASHINGTON– Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement upon the Senate voting to confirm Jessica Aber as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) and Christopher Kavanaugh as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia (WDVA):

“We are pleased the Senate has confirmed Jessica Aber and Christopher Kavanaugh to these critical positions. We were deeply impressed by their exceptional backgrounds. We believe they will serve the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia with distinction.”

Jessica Aber is a distinguished attorney with more than a dozen years of criminal justice experience in the EDVA U.S. Attorney’s Office and as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. She has worked as both an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) handling complex financial fraud, violent crime, and child exploitation cases and as EDVA’s Deputy Criminal Chief supervising operations across the District’s four divisions. Ms. Aber has lived in Virginia for over 20 years, receiving her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Richmond and her Juris Doctor from the William & Mary Law School.     

Chris Kavanaugh is an AUSA in the Western District of Virginia. Mr. Kavanaugh is currently serving as Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General. Mr. Kavanaugh has practiced before every judge in the Western District and has worked in the U.S. Attorney’s office since 2014, handling a wide variety of federal criminal offenses involving domestic terrorism, civil rights violations, national security, and white-collar offenses and violent crimes. Mr. Kavanaugh received his Bachelors of Science from Georgia Tech and his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law.

In March, Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending candidates for the U.S. Attorney vacancies in the EDVA and WDVA. In their letter, the Senators recommended Jessica Aber for the EDVA position and Christopher Kavanaugh for the WDVA position.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are now accepting applications for the position of United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, to succeed United States District Court Judge Raymond A. Jackson, who will assume senior status effective November 23, 2021.

 An independent panel of lawyers assembled by the senators will review applications and interview qualified individuals. The senators will then use those recommendations, as well as input from experts, practitioners, and bar associations from around the Commonwealth, as they consider potential nominees to recommend to the President. The White House will then nominate an individual whose nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate. 

Interested applicants should visit Senator Warner’s website for application instructions. The application period will close November 8, 2021.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) issued the following statement after the Judiciary Committee approved President Biden’s nominations of Virginia Solicitor General Toby J. Heytens for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and Patricia Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael S. Nachmanoff for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division:

“We are pleased that the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to advance the nominations of Toby Heytens, Patricia Tolliver Giles, and Michael Nachmanoff.  We recommended Mr. Heytens, Ms. Tolliver Giles, and Judge Nachmanoff to President Biden and are confident all three nominees will serve Virginia and the country with distinction. We urge our colleagues to swiftly confirm Mr. Heytens to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and Ms. Tolliver Giles and Judge Nachmanoff to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.” 

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been supporters of the three nominees. In May, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to the President, recommending Mr. Heytens for the vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, following Judge Barbara M. Keenan’s decision to take senior status in August 2021. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is based in Richmond and hears federal appeals from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

In April, the Senators sent a letter to President Biden, recommending Ms. Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge Nachmanoff for the vacancy in the Alexandria Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following Judge Liam O’Grady’s decision to take senior status. Shortly thereafter, another vacancy opened in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to succeed Judge Anthony Trenga, who assumed senior status June 1, 2021.

These nominations will now head to the Senate floor to be considered by the full Senate.

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement on President Biden’s nominations of Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) Jessica Aber and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia (WDVA) Christopher Kavanaugh to fill the U.S. Attorney vacancies in the Eastern District of Virginia and the Western District of Virginia, respectively:

“We are pleased that the President has nominated Ms. Aber and Mr. Kavanaugh to fill these vacancies,” said the Senators. “After a thorough review of their distinguished records, we believe they will serve Virginia and the country with distinction. We hope our colleagues will join us to support these well-qualified nominees to be U.S. Attorneys in the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia.” 

In March, Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending candidates for the U.S. Attorney vacancies in the EDVA and WDVA. In their letter, the Senators recommended Jessica Aber for the EDVA position and Christopher Kavanaugh for the WDVA position. 

These nominations are subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to the White House recommending Ms. Juval Scott and U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Ballou to fill the upcoming vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Abingdon Division, which will be created when Judge James P. Jones assumes senior status on August 30, 2021.  

Ms. Scott is currently the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Virginia. She has also served as an Assistant Federal Defender in the Eastern District of Wisconsin and Southern District of Indiana. As an Attorney Advisor at the Administrative Office of Courts, Defender Services Office, Training Division, she worked to develop and implement national, state, and local training programs for public defenders. As a public defender, Ms. Scott has represented hundreds of indigent clients. If nominated and confirmed, Ms. Scott would be the first African American judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. 

Judge Ballou has served as a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Western District since 2011. Prior to joining the bench, he spent twenty-three years in private practice. He tried fifty cases before juries over that period of time. On the bench, he has overseen a wide variety of federal civil and criminal matters, conducted dozens of misdemeanor criminal trials, and several civil jury trials. He has also dedicated time and attention to the Veterans Court and the prisoner pro se docket. 

“Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation,” said the senators. “Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would win confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench.”

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia is based in Roanoke. Appeals from the Western District of Virginia are taken to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. President Biden will nominate one individual for the position, which is subject to confirmation by the full Senate. 

The full text of today’s letter appears here and below:

 

Dear Mr. President:

We are pleased to recommend Ms. Juval Scott and U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Ballou for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Abingdon Division, following the decision by Judge James P. Jones to take senior status effective August 30, 2021. Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation. 

Ms. Scott is currently the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Virginia. In this position, she manages three offices of the Federal Public Defender in Roanoke, Charlottesville, and Abingdon, Virginia. She has also served as an Assistant Federal Defender in the Eastern District of Wisconsin and the Southern District of Indiana. As an Attorney Advisor at the Administrative Office of Courts, Defender Services Office, Training Division, she worked to develop and implement national, state and local training programs for public defenders. She also initiated a federal program to diversify public defender offices. Ms. Scott has represented hundreds of indigent clients in the Western District of Virginia, Eastern District of Wisconsin, and Southern District of Indiana. This experience gives us confidence that Ms. Scott would make an excellent nominee for this seat.

We also recommend Judge Ballou, who has served as a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Western District since 2011. Prior to joining the bench, Judge Ballou spent 23 years in private practice and became well-acquainted with federal court practice in general and the Western District in particular. He tried 50 cases before juries over that period of time. On the bench, he has overseen a wide variety of federal civil and criminal matters, conducted dozens of misdemeanor criminal trials and several civil jury trials. He has also dedicated time and attention to the Veterans Court and the prisoner pro se docket. He has proven himself to be a jurist who is able to understand the salient points of arguments and render fair decisions. Together, these experiences qualify Judge Ballou for this nomination and we are honored to recommend him.

Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would win confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench. We are honored to recommend them to you.                                                    

Sincerely, 

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement on President Biden’s nominations of Virginia Solicitor General Toby J. Heytens for the upcoming vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Patricia Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael S. Nachmanoff for the vacancies on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division.

“We are pleased that the President has nominated Mr. Heytens, Ms. Giles, and Judge Nachmanoff to fill these vacancies,” said the Senators. “Based on their fairness, temperament, and integrity, we believe they will all serve Virginia and the country with distinction. We hope our colleagues will join us to support these well-qualified nominees.”

In May, Warner and Kaine sent a letter to the President, recommending Mr. Heytens, along with U.S. District Court Judges Arenda Wright Allen and Hannah Lauck, for the vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit following Judge Barbara M. Keenan’s decision to take senior status in August 2021. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is based in Richmond and hears federal appeals from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina. 

In April, the Senators sent a letter to President Biden, recommending Ms. Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge Nachmanoff for the vacancy in the Alexandria Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following Judge Liam O’Grady’s decision to take senior status. Shortly thereafter, another vacancy opened in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to succeed Judge Anthony Trenga, who assumed senior status June 1, 2021. 

These nominations are subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

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WASHINGTON – With Congress preparing to take up this year’s government funding legislation, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have formally requested robust funding to ensure the full implementation of the Ashanti Alert system. This alert system was authorized through the Ashanti Alert Act, a law authored and championed by Sen. Warner to help save lives. 

“As you prepare the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 appropriations, we write to respectfully request that you work to ensure that the Department of Justice (DOJ) implements the Ashanti Alert Act of 2018 (Pub L. 115-401), and that this effort is fully funded in FY 2022,” wrote the senators in a letter to Congressional leaders in charge of distributing funding. “It is imperative that the Ashanti Alert Act receives full funding and the Department fully implement it in order to advance its goals of transforming the lives and safety of Americans. Full funding ensures that DOJ, law enforcement agencies, and relevant entities and stakeholders have the necessary resources to implement the Ashanti Alert network effectively at the soonest possible date.”

The Ashanti Alert Act is named after Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old woman who was abducted on her way to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in September 2017, and whose body was discovered in North Carolina 11 days after she was first reported missing. Due to her age, Ashanti did not meet the criteria for an Amber or Silver Alert – tools utilized by law enforcement that allow the public to assist in locating missing children or senior citizens. The law requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to establish a national communications network, named the Ashanti Alert, that would notify the public about missing or endangered adults through radio and television broadcast systems. The law also requires the Attorney General to designate a national coordinator to work with states to establish Ashanti Alert systems and to develop voluntary guidelines that states and territories should use in creating their networks. 

In their letter, the senators also praised recent progress by the DOJ, including its efforts to encourage states, territories, and tribes to adopt Ashanti Alert plans, and to assist various states in ensuring that their existing alert programs for missing adults are consistent with national Ashanti Alert guidance. 

Sen. Warner, who secured unanimous passage of this national alert system in December of 2018, has long led the fight to implement the Ashanti Alert nationwide. In August 2019, he reiterated the need for the swift implementation of the alert during a meeting with Katherine Sullivan, the then-Ashanti Alert Coordinator and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice (DOJ). In July 2020, Sen. Warner sent a letter to Governors across the country inviting their law enforcement officials to participate in a DOJ webinar to help states learn how they can begin to implement this critical program. Most recently, he helped secure $1 million in federal funding in the December 2020 emergency government funding legislation to help with the nationwide implementation of the Ashanti Alert system.

A PDF of the letter is available here. Text is available below.

 

 Dear Chairman Shaheen and Ranking Member Moran:

As you prepare the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 appropriations, we write to respectfully request that you work to ensure that the Department of Justice (DOJ) implements the Ashanti Alert Act of 2018 (Pub L. 115-401), and that this effort is fully funded in FY 2022.  We appreciate that the Subcommittee included $1 million for Ashanti Alert Network funding in the FY21 spending bill, and we were pleased that President Biden, too, has recognized the importance of the Ashanti Alert in his proposed budget for FY22.

On December 31, 2018, the Ashanti Alert Act was signed into law, after it passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support. The law requires DOJ to establish a national communications network, named the Ashanti Alert, to assist regional and local search efforts for certain missing adults. In addition, the Ashanti Alert Act requires the Attorney General to designate a national coordinator to work with states to establish Ashanti Alert systems and to develop voluntary guidelines that states (as well as territories) should use in creating their networks.

In the FY20 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 116-93), Congress directed DOJ to report on both the status of its Ashanti Alert Act implementation efforts, as well as establish a deadline for final implementation no later than March 19, 2020.[1]  While DOJ has not yet fully implemented the program, we are glad to see recent progress.  The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), which administers the Ashanti Alert program, is assisting various states with their existing alert programs for missing adults in an effort to ensure the programs are consistent with national Ashanti Alert guidance.  Additionally, BJA is encouraging all other states, territories, and tribes to adopt Ashanti Alert plans and has identified states and tribes to serve as possible pilot sites for enhancing Ashanti alerting capabilities.  Two states, including Virginia, have adopted formal Ashanti Alert programs.

This law was borne out of the tragic death of Ashanti Billie, a 19 year old who was abducted in Norfolk, Virginia and whose body was discovered 11 days after she was first reported missing. Because Ashanti was too old for an Amber Alert to be issued and no similar network for adults existed at the time, her parents, family, and friends struggled to get word out of her disappearance in a timely fashion.

Thus, it is imperative that the Ashanti Alert Act receives full funding and the Department fully implement it in order to advance its goals of transforming the lives and safety of Americans. Full funding ensures that DOJ, law enforcement agencies, and relevant entities and stakeholders have the necessary resources to implement the Ashanti Alert network effectively at the soonest possible date. 

We appreciate the Subcommittee’s past support for the Ashanti Alert Act, and efforts made by Subcommittee staff to ensure implementation.  We hope the Subcommittee will continue to demonstrate strong support for the Ashanti Alert Act for FY 2022. 

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely, 

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to the White House recommending Judge Arenda Wright Allen, Judge Hannah Lauck, and Virginia Solicitor General Toby J. Heytens to fill the upcoming vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which will be created when Judge Barbara M. Keenan assumes senior status in August 2021. 

Judge Allen has been a U.S. District Court Judge in the Norfolk division of the Eastern District of Virginia since 2011. Judge Allen served in the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia from 2005-2011 and served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in both the Eastern District of Virginia and the Western District of Virginia from 1990 to 2005. She also has a distinguished record of service in the Navy and has a lifelong commitment to diversity.  

Judge Lauck has been a U.S. District Court Judge in the Richmond division of the Eastern District of Virginia since 2014 and was previously a Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District—the first woman to be appointed to either position in Richmond. Prior to joining the bench, Judge Lauck served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1994 to 2005. Judge Lauck served as a clerk to U.S. Judge Randolph Spencer of the Eastern District of Virginia. 

Mr. Heytens has been the Solicitor General of Virginia since 2018, representing the Commonwealth in state and federal courts, including three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to this role, Mr. Heytens was a professor at his alma mater, the University of Virginia School of Law, from 2010 to 2018. Mr. Heytens also served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chief Judge Edward R. Becker on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. 

“All three candidates possess the requisite fairness, temperament, and integrity to serve as a U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, and have our highest recommendation,” said the senators. “Ultimately, we believe each of these individuals would win confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench.”

Warner and Kaine recommend these individuals based on their distinguished records and the assessments of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth as well as feedback from bar associations in Virginia. 

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is based in Richmond and hears federal appeals from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina. President Biden will nominate one individual for the position, which is subject to confirmation by the full Senate. 

The full text of today’s letter appears here and below: 

 

Dear Mr. President: 

We are pleased to recommend United States District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen, United States District Court Judge Hannah Lauck, and Virginia Solicitor General Toby J. Heytens for the vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit following Judge Barbara M. Keenan’s decision to take senior status, effective August, 2021. All three candidates possess the requisite fairness, temperament, and integrity to serve as a U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, and have our highest recommendation. 

The Honorable Arenda Wright Allen is a United States District Court Judge in the Norfolk Division of the Eastern District of Virginia.  Prior to joining the bench in 2011, Judge Allen served in the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia from 2005-2011. From 1990 to 2005, Judge Allen served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in both the Eastern District of Virginia and the Western District of Virginia.  Judge Allen also has an exemplary record of military service, serving as a Navy JAG Trial Attorney and Staff Judge Advocate from 1985-1990.  Judge Allen continued her service as a Commander in the United States Navy Reserves until she retired in 2005.

Judge Hannah Lauck has had an impressive legal career to date, and is currently serving as a United States District Court Judge in Richmond, Virginia.  Prior to becoming a United States District Court Judge, she served as a federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia, from 2005 to 2014.  Additionally, she was the first woman District Court Judge and Magistrate Judge appointed in the Richmond Division for the Eastern District of Virginia.    

Toby Heytens is the Solicitor General of Virginia, a position he has held since 2018. As the Solicitor General, Mr. Heytens exclusively represents the Commonwealth, its officers, and its agencies. In the last three years he has represented the Commonwealth in federal and state courts, including three arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States, defense of the Commonwealth’s new firearms laws and the Governor’s COVID-19 related orders in trial courts and on appeal.  Prior to joining the Virginia Attorney General’s office, Heytens was a professor at his alma mater, the University of Virginia School of Law, from 2010 to 2018. 

Ultimately, we believe each of these individuals would win confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench. We are honored to recommend them to you.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending Patricia Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael S. Nachmanoff for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division. 

“We are pleased to recommend Ms. Patricia Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael S. Nachmanoff for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division following Judge Liam O’ Grady’s decision to take senior status in May 2020,” said the Senators. “Both Ms. Giles and Judge Nachmanoff possess the requisite fairness, temperament, and integrity to serve as a U.S. District Court Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia, and have our highest recommendation.”

Warner and Kaine recommend these individuals based on their distinguished records and the assessments of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth as well as feedback from numerous bar associations in Virginia. President Biden will now nominate one individual for the position to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

Full text of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division letter is available here and below.

Dear Mr. President:

We are pleased to recommend Ms. Patricia Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael S. Nachmanoff for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division following Judge Liam O’ Grady’s decision to take senior status in May 2020. Both Ms. Giles and Judge Nachmanoff possess the requisite fairness, temperament, and integrity to serve as a U.S. District Court Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia, and have our highest recommendation.

Ms. Giles was raised in Hampton, Virginia, the daughter of a career military family.  Ms. Giles has spent her entire professional career in the Eastern District of Virginia, beginning when she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Bruce Lee.  Ms. Giles has a distinguished record of service as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District, which includes prosecuting the capital murder trial of MS-13 gang members.  We believe that practitioners would respect Ms. Giles’s rulings and that litigants would have reassurance of receiving a fair trial. 

Judge Nachmanoff has served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District since 2015. Before his appointment to the bench, Judge Nachmanoff served for 13 years in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of Virginia.  As EDVA’s Chief Federal Public Defender, Judge Nachmanoff Supervised 60 attorneys and staff, who represented more than 2,500 clients each year on federal violations ranging from petty offenses and misdemeanors on federal enclaves to capital murder. Judge Nachmanoff’s esteemed record demonstrates that he would be an excellent District Court Judge.  

Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would win confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench. We are honored to recommend them to you.

Sincerely,                                                                                                                                                           

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a former technology entrepreneur, released a statement after the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law held hearing entitled “Reviving Competition, Part 1: Proposals to Address Gatekeeper Power and Lower Barriers to Entry Online”:

“Social media has undeniably reshaped our entire culture and the ways we communicate, and has enormous benefits. However, we have seen that as platforms’ collective influence has grown, so have barriers to entry for smaller platforms. We must level the playing field for startups and make it easier for them to compete on equal terms with the biggest platforms. That is why I introduced bipartisan legislation, the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act, to encourage market-based competition to dominant social media platforms by requiring the largest companies to make user data portable – and their services interoperable – with other platforms, and to allow users to designate a trusted third-party service to manage their privacy and account settings, if they so choose. I am pleased to see the subcommittee and its witnesses address this important issue and am looking forward to continuing the conversation on how to enhance competition online.”

In addition to the ACCESS Act, Sen. Warner has written and introduced a number of bills designed to protect consumers and reduce the power of giant social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google. Among these are the Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism and Consumer Harms (SAFE TECH) Act – legislation to reform Section 230 and allow social media companies to be held accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, targeted harassment, and discrimination on their platforms; theDesigning Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight And Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act – bipartisan legislation to require data harvesting companies to tell consumers and financial regulators exactly what data they are collecting from consumers and how it is being leveraged by the platform for profit; and the Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act – bipartisan legislation to prohibit large online platforms from using deceptive user interfaces to trick consumers into handing over their personal data.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are now accepting applications for the position of U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Virginia to succeed U.S. District Judge James P. Jones, who will assume senior status effective August 30, 2021. An independent panel of lawyers assembled by the Senators will review applications and interview qualified individuals. The Senators will then use those recommendations, as well as input from bar associations and experts, as they consider potential nominees to recommend to the President. The White House will then nominate an individual to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

Interested applicants should visit Senator Warner’s website for application instructions. The application period will close on March 8, 2021.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are now accepting applications for the positions of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern and Western District of Virginia to replace current officeholders as the incoming-Biden Administration begins its transition. After receipt of applications, the Senators will select from the list of qualified attorneys to recommend for the nomination. The White House will then nominate individuals to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nominations are subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

“U.S. Attorneys play an integral role in protecting a geographically diverse region on a wide range of issues – from human trafficking, narcotics, and gang violence to white collar crime and public corruption,” said the Senators. “As we begin the transition process for these key positions in Virginia’s two districts, we look forward to reviewing qualified candidates and selecting the right individuals.”

Interested applicants should visit Senator Warner’s website for application instructions. The application period will close Monday, December 21, 2020.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are now accepting applications for the position of U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia to succeed U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady, who took senior status on May 1, 2020. An independent panel of lawyers assembled by the Senators will review applications and interview qualified individuals. The Senators will then use those recommendations, as well as input from bar associations and experts, as they consider potential nominees to recommend to the President. The White House will then nominate an individual to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate. 

Interested applicants should visit Senator Warner’s website for application instructions. The application period will close December 18, 2020.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation to increase cooperation between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and veterans legal clinics, such as the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinichoused at the College of William and Mary, or the Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (M-VETS) at George Mason University. The Veterans Legal Support Act of 2020 would allow the VA to provide funding to law school legal clinics that provide pro bono legal services to veterans. 

Some law schools and their student volunteers are making significant progress in reducing disability claims backlogs and veterans homelessness in communities across the country. Under attorney supervision, students provide a range of pro bono legal services, including assistance with disability claims, foreclosures, bankruptcies, divorce, child custody and some minor criminal cases.  By assisting veterans with complicated benefits claims, legal clinics are turning the VA’s most time consuming cases into organized applications that are significantly easier to process. In addition, preventative services like expedited claims assistance and legal counsel offer veterans an opportunity to address challenges before they worsen, often resulting in significant long-term savings to the government.

“Veterans legal clinics do the crucial work of providing quality and essential legal services to vulnerable vets who otherwise may not be able to afford it. These clinics also provide important practical training for law students as they help veterans receive benefits that they frequently cannot access,” said Sen. Warner. “Given the enormous sacrifices that these brave individuals have made for our nation, we owe it to them to explore innovative solutions that allow them to get the assistance they need and the benefits they’ve earned in a more timely manner.  That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Veterans Legal Support Act of 2020 – a bill to enable the VA to provide funding to legal clinics dedicated to serving our nation’s veterans.”

“The Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic of the William & Mary Law School has been at the forefront of efforts to assist veterans while educating future lawyers who are imbued with a deeply held public service ethos.  Since its establishment in 2008, the efforts of William & Mary Veterans Benefits Clinic students and staff have resulted in the awarding of over $53 million in projected lifetime benefits to veterans. The Veterans Legal Support Act  of 2020 would help the Puller Clinic expand efforts to meet the pressing unmet needs of veterans in Virginia and would greatly assist in establishing a more stable foundation for the Clinic’s continued operation,” said Michael Dick, Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) and Co-Director, the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic.  

“The Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (“M-VETS”) strongly supports the Veterans Legal Support Act of 2020, which would provide critical funding for law school veterans clinics across the country in their pursuit of securing vital benefits and free legal assistance for our nation’s veterans. Established in 2004 as the first clinic of its kind at any law school in the United States of America, M-VETS provides free legal assistance to the veteran and military community in a variety of matters, including Virginia civil litigation matters, family law, consumer protection issues, wills and powers of attorney, as well as assisting with matters before the Department of Veterans Affairs (“DVA”) and various administrative boards, including discharge upgrades, record corrections, military pay and entitlement matters, and DVA disability benefit appeals. The funding from this bill would enable M-VETS to grow its staff, expand its scope of services, and subsidize filing and administrative fees for indigent veterans to ensure their access to justice,” said Timothy M. MacArthur, Director & Clinical Professor, Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (M-VETS). 

“Too many veterans are stuck in the VA’s claims backlog, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and hindered their access to the benefits and services they’ve earned. We have an obligation to use every tool available to assist the brave men and women who’ve served and sacrificed for our nation, which is precisely what our bill would help do,” said Sen. Shaheen. “Some of our nation’s law schools are greatly reducing processing times for challenging VA benefits claims and expanding access to legal services and I commend these students and faculty for their outstanding efforts. Our legislation would authorize the VA to work more closely with these programs and help other schools establish their own courses, ramping up efforts to cut down the VA backlog and expediting help for veterans seeking assistance. Leader McConnell should hold a vote on this common-sense legislation as soon as possible so together Congress can take a meaningful step forward to improve services for our veterans and their families.” 

“When our servicemembers made a commitment to defend our nation, our country also made a commitment to make sure they have the resources and support they deserve when they come home,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “While we can never repay the debt we owe to our troops and veterans who have risked their lives for this country, this legislation will help ensure our veterans have access to the basic legal assistance they may need to get the benefits they’ve earned.”

Sen. Warner has been a longtime supporter of legal clinics dedicated to serving our nation’s veterans. In April 2013, he sent letters to then VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and President Obamaurging them to partner with the Puller Clinic to help veterans cut through red tape and reduce the VA claims backlog. Sen. Warner also sent a letter to each of his Senate colleagues promoting the Puller Clinic model, and met with Secretary Shinseki to advocate for the Puller Clinic program as a national model to help the VA solve its backlog challenges. He also worked to secure the Puller Clinic’s certification as a national “best practice” program, making it the first law school clinic in the nation to receive the VA designation. 

The text of the bill is available for download here

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