September 21, 2022

ICYMI: Senator Warren Introduces Judge Margaret Guzman and Julie Rikelman Before Senate Judiciary Committee

Warren: “I was proud to partner with Senator Markey in recommending both nominees to President Biden for appointment to the federal bench.”

Video of Hearing Exchange

Washington D.C. – At today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced Massachusetts Judge Margaret Guzman, nominee to serve on the United States District Court in Massachusetts and Julie Rikelman, nominee to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Senators Warren and Markey (D-Mass.) recommended both Judge Guzman and Ms. Rikelman to President Biden for appointment to the federal bench. 

Transcript: Senate Judiciary Committee Nomination Hearings of Judge Guzman and Julie Rikelman
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Senator Elizabeth Warren: Thank you very much Chair Durbin. Today, I have the honor of introducing Judge Margaret Guzman, a nominee to the District Court in Massachusetts, and  Julie Rikelman, a nominee to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. I was proud to partner with Senator Markey in recommending both nominees to President Biden for appointment to the federal bench.

Judge Guzman appears before this committee with thirteen years of judicial experience, having served as an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts District Court from 2009 to 2017 and thereafter as First Justice of the Ayer District Court. Prior to joining the bench, Judge Guzman dedicated her career to public defense work. After serving the Committee on the Public Counsel Services from 1992 to 2005, Judge Guzman became a solo practitioner and represented clients in criminal, civil, family law, employment discrimination and administrative matters. She continued to provide some pro bono criminal defense representation during that time.

Judge Guzman has earned support from prosecutors, defenders, judges, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Worcester County Bar Association, among others. Those who have come before Judge Guzman describe her as a “thoughtful and fair judge.” In a letter signed by four assistant district attorneys from Middlesex, they state, “We have often gone to her chambers to ask for advice and feedback on our performance as young prosecutors…” and they describe her as someone whose “proverbial door is always open.”

Beyond the courtroom, Judge Guzman’s service to the community is extensive. She has served on the boards of the Worcester Business Development Corporation, Creative Hub Worcester, and Dismas House, a non-profit dedicated to assisting the formerly incarcerated in reentering the community. She also served on the City of Worcester Planning Board and Worcester County Commission on the Status of Women. 

Professional service aside, I also believe Judge Guzman should be commended for her dedication to her family. In 1999, while continuing to work as a public defender, she became the legal guardian of her six nieces and nephews for more than three years. During this challenging time, she also assumed caretaking responsibilities for her ailing mother, who would later pass in the family home. When describing this period of her life, Judge Guzman stated, “Stepping in for those children was the right thing to do…when I think about that amazing time, I realize that it was perhaps the most difficult of my life, and also the most important.” 

Judge Guzman has lived a life in service of her family, community, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Once confirmed, she will be the first Hispanic judge to serve on the District Court in Massachusetts. I am proud to support her nomination to the District Court and I’m glad that today she is joined by friends, by colleagues, by her niece and by two of her sisters, Amy and Catherine.

I am also proud today to introduce Ms. Rikelman. Julie Rikelman’s career has included work in both the private sector and public interest. After clerking for Justice Dana Fabe on the Alaska Supreme Court and later with Judge Morton Greenberg, a Reagan appointee to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Ms. Rikelman did a one year stint as a legal fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights before spending a decade working for corporate clients and individuals. She worked as an associate at Feldman & Orlansky in Alaska, and then as a Senior Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York. Ms. Rikelman joined NBCUniversal in 2006 as Litigation Counsel, and would go on to rise within the company first as Senior Litigation Counsel and ultimately as Vice President of Litigation. She has represented private clients in securities, breach of contract, employment discrimination, copyright and trademark, as well as constitutional law matters. 

Ms. Rikelman rejoined the Center for Reproductive Rights in 2011 and served in the role of U.S. Litigation Director beginning in 2012. In that role, she argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court.  

Ms. Rikelman has earned support from lawyers in public and private practice, prosecutors, defenders, academics and former judges representing a range of political perspectives. Her supporters who have worked in government have been appointed by Republicans and Democrats. Despite these differences, they quote “...share a strong belief that Ms. Rikelman is a lawyer of uncommon talent and ability, broad experience, sound and fair minded judgment, and unquestioned integrity.” I couldn't agree more. 

Her former colleagues at NBCUniversal and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, describe her as “thoughtful, open-minded” and as someone who “carefully considered every argument without prejudgment and without regard to her personal views.” These are exactly the qualities that a federal judge should possess.

Ms. Rikelman’s professional success would not have been possible without her parents, who I know are proudly watching from home. In the late 1970s, she and her family came to the United States from Ukraine as Jewish refugees seeking freedom and equal opportunity denied to them in the former Soviet Union. Ms. Rikelman’s respect for the rule of law and commitment to the Constitution are fueled by her very personal understanding of what it means to live without such protections. I am confident that she will make an exceptional First Circuit judge, and I’m glad that her husband, Jason, and her  daughters are here to support her on this important day. Thank you Mr. Chairman.