Norton Releases Statement Ahead of Confirmation Hearing for Cobb and Pan for U.S. District Court for D.C.

Jul 14, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released her statement for the record ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nominations of Jia Cobb and District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Florence Pan for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Norton recommended Cobb and Pan to President Biden. Biden, like Presidents Clinton and Obama, has granted Norton senatorial courtesy for judges on the U.S. District Court for D.C., the U.S. Attorney for D.C., the U.S. Marshal for the D.C. Superior Court, and the U.S. Marshal for the U.S. District Court for D.C.

“Jia Cobb not only possesses all the necessary qualities to be an exceptional federal judge: intelligence, temperament, and integrity.” Norton said. “She also brings much-needed racial and professional diversity to the federal bench.”

Cobb, who is African American, is a partner at Relman Colfax PLLC, a plaintiff-side civil rights law firm, where she has practiced for 11 years. She litigates civil rights cases in federal courts across the country, including in D.C. Her practice focuses on housing discrimination and criminal justice misconduct, but she litigates other types of civil rights cases as well. Prior to practicing at Relman Colfax, Cobb practiced at the D.C. Public Defender Service for six years, where she represented indigent criminal defendants at all stages of litigation and tried dozens of cases to verdict as lead or sole attorney.

Cobb is a graduate of Northwestern University, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and of Harvard Law School, cum laude, where she was a Coordinating Editor of the Harvard Law Review. She clerked for Judge Diane Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

In 2016, Obama nominated Pan for the U.S. District Court for D.C., as recommended by Norton. Pan was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee by voice vote. However, the Republican-led Senate stopped confirming Obama-nominated judges, and Pan’s nomination expired.

“D.C. Superior Court Judge Florence Pan has the professional experience and academic credentials to be an outstanding federal district court judge,” Norton said. “At this time in history, when Asian Americans are literally being attacked, she is a particularly important nominee.”

Since 2009, Pan has been an Associate Judge on the D.C. Superior Court, where she has served in the Civil Division, Criminal Division and Family Court. Previously, Pan worked for 10 years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. She served eight years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, working in both the federal and local trial courts and in the Appellate Division. She served two years as the Deputy Chief of the Appellate Division.

Pan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, summa cum laude, with two undergraduate degrees, including from the Wharton School, and from Stanford Law School, with distinction, where she was an Associate Editor of the Stanford Law Review and student body president. She clerked for Judge Michael Mukasey of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and for Judge Ralph Winter, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Since 2012, Pan has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Federal law does not require judges on the U.S. District Court for D.C. to live in D.C., even though federal judges in virtually every other jurisdiction are required to live in the jurisdiction in which they serve. However, Norton requires every candidate she recommends pursuant to senatorial courtesy to commit to live in D.C. during their tenure. Cobb and Pan have committed to live in D.C. during their tenures. Norton has a bill that would require judges on the U.S. District Court for D.C. to live in D.C.

Norton’s statement for the record follows.

 

Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Hearing on Jia Cobb and Florence Pan

 

July 14, 2021

Chairman Durbin and Ranking Member Grassley, I appreciate the opportunity to submit this statement in strong support of Jia Cobb and Florence Pan for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, both of whom I recommended to President Biden.  I am especially pleased that the President has given me senatorial courtesy for judges on the U.S. District Court for D.C., the U.S. Attorney for D.C., the U.S. Marshal for the D.C. Superior Court and the U.S. Marshal for the U.S. District Court for D.C.

Jia Cobb possesses all the necessary qualities to be an exceptional federal judge, including intelligence, temperament and integrity.  She will also bring much-needed racial and professional diversity to the federal bench.

Ms. Cobb is a partner at Relman Colfax PLLC, where she has practiced for 11 years.  Relman Colfax is a plaintiff-side civil rights law firm.  Ms. Cobb litigates civil rights cases in federal courts across the country, including here in the District.  Ms. Cobb’s practice has focused on housing discrimination and criminal justice misconduct, but she litigates other types of civil rights cases as well.

Prior to her current position, Ms. Cobb practiced law at the D.C. Public Defender Service for six years.  In this role, she represented indigent criminal defendants at all stages of litigation and tried dozens of cases to verdict as lead or sole attorney.

Ms. Cobb is a magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Northwestern University and a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, where she served as a Coordinating Editor of the Harvard Law Review.  After law school, Ms. Cobb clerked for Judge Diane Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. 

In 2016, President Obama, upon my recommendation, nominated D.C. Superior Court Judge Florence Pan for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  The nomination was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a voice vote.  However, by that point, the Senate had stopped confirming Obama-nominated judges, and Judge Pan’s nomination expired.

Judge Pan has the professional experience and academic credentials that one would expect of an exceptional federal judge.  Since 2009, Judge Pan has as an Associate Judge on the D.C. Superior Court, where she has served in the Civil Division, Criminal Division and Family Court.  The Senate confirmed Judge Pan’s nomination to the Superior Court by voice vote.  She previously served eight years as Assistant U.S. Attorney, working in both the federal and local trial courts and in the Appellate Division, and she served two years as the Deputy Chief of the Appellate Division.  Like Ms. Cobb, Judge Pan would also further diversify this important court.

Judge Pan is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, summa cum laude, where she received two undergraduate degrees, including from the Wharton School.  She is also a graduate with distinction from Stanford Law School.  During law school, Judge Pan was Associate Editor of the Stanford Law Review and was student body president.

After law school, Judge Pan clerked for Judge Michael Mukasey on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and for Judge Ralph Winter on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 

Again, I appreciate your considering these two exceptional nominees for the vacancies on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and I want to reiterate my gratitude to President Biden for granting me senatorial courtesy for certain federal nominees in the District of Columbia.

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