After Months of Delay Senate Set to Vote Today on Confirmation of William Martinez as U.S. District Court Judge
Washington, DC—Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet took to the floor of the Senate today to urge his colleagues to approve the nomination of William Martinez for U.S. District Court in Colorado.
The vote comes after months of delays in action on judicial appointments. In July, Bennet and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall wrote a letter to Senate leaders urging a swift vote on Martinez’s nomination, saying that the delays in confirmation were hurting Colorado’s court system. Currently, there are five judges on Colorado’s federal bench doing the work of seven due to lengthy vacancies, which is contributing to a backlog of cases.
Martinez was nominated on February 24 and approved by the Judiciary Committee April 15 after a thorough application and selection process conducted by a bipartisan panel of lawyers and former judges in Colorado. He would be filling a vacancy that has been open for almost two years.
The full text of Bennet’s remarks is below:
Mr. President, I rise today to state my strong support for the nomination of Bill Martinez to serve on the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.
Having recommended his candidacy to the President along with my colleague Senator Udall, I believe he is eminently qualified for the federal bench
Bill was nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado in February of this year. His nomination cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in April. Since then, he has been in a state of limbo awaiting a final vote to allow him to serve.
That’s why I’m grateful for the hard work of the Judiciary Committee, both Democrats and Republicans, who have moved this nomination forward and are trying to finish it up here before the end of the 111th Congress.
The delays in disposing of the Martinez nomination are unfortunate and are at great cost to Coloradans who seek access to our courts.
My state currently has two vacancies on the District Court. Both vacancies are over two years old with one is close to three years old. Because there are only seven federal judgeships in the state, the other judges are facing ever-growing caseloads, resulting in significant backlogs for those seeking justice.
The Administrative Office of the Courts has declared the vacancy situation in Colorado a judicial emergency.
It is important that we move these nominations to prevent further backlogs and judicial emergencies. I pledge to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure that we all can work together to confirm judicial nominees, such as Bill Martinez, in a timely manner.
I believe that, after careful review of Bill Martinez’s experience, my colleagues will see that this is someone worth confirming.
Bill is currently a partner at a law firm in Denver where he primarily represents plaintiffs in federal and state courts and before arbitrators and administrative agencies. He is certified as an AAA arbitrator in employment disputes.
Prior to starting his own firm, Bill served as Regional Attorney of the U.S. EEOC in its Denver District Office. There, Bill had responsibility for the Commission’s legal operations and federal court enforcement litigation in the office’s six-state jurisdiction.
Before joining the EEOC, Bill worked in private practice on employment, securities and commercial litigation.
He began his career at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, representing indigents and other individuals seeking low or no cost counsel.
This is a nominee whose breadth of legal experience has spanned the profession. I know some want to focus on his pro bono work and try to make political assumptions about him from a small portion of his career. But I know Bill, and he is the sum of a lot of great work in the public and private sectors.
For example, while at the EEOC Bill was in charge of an age discrimination class action against the Martin Marietta Corporation that resulted in a settlement of nearly $200 million for 3,200 laid off engineers. This is one of the largest ever age discrimination class actions.
Over the course of his legal career, Bill has been lead or co-lead counsel in complex litigation resulting in 18 published opinions from federal and state courts in Colorado and Illinois.
One of his more prominent legal successes was winning a $3.3 million verdict as a lead trial counsel in Antoine v. Yellow Freight System, a single plaintiff race harassment case.
He was also the lead intervener counsel in EEOC et al. v. Albertson’s LLC, which was a class action alleging a hostile work environment based on race and national origin. This case settled last December for $8.9 million.
Bill’s time as a litigator and advocate has provided him the necessary skills and perspective to deal with the diverse docket that comes before United States District Court judges.
Beyond his distinguished legal skills, Bill’s personal story is a tribute to this country and embodies the American dream. He is an immigrant success story.
Bill was born in Mexico and immigrated with his family to the United States at a young age. He was the first in his family to attend college and law school. His rise through the legal profession is a great example for bright young law students and indeed, for us all.
I urge my colleagues to vote for Bill’s nomination. He is a model nominee for the federal District Court- an expert in labor and employment law who will better serve Coloradans.
Bill Martinez has the experience and strong sense of civic responsibility that we need on the federal bench.
I thank the Chairman for his guidance of this nomination. And I urge my colleagues to vote to confirm Bill to Colorado’s federal bench.
I yield the floor.