Biden taps Superior Court Judge Gaston for seat on San Diego federal bench

President Joe Biden nominated on Wednesday San Diego Superior Court Judge Marian Gaston to a seat on the federal bench in San Diego, continuing a historic trend of placing former public defenders on federal district courts around the nation.

Gaston has been a Superior Court judge in San Diego since 2015 when former Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her to the local court. Before that she spent nearly 20 years as a deputy public defender with the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office.

In selecting nominees for the federal courts the Biden administration has emphasized diversity both demographically and professionally. He has nominated eight former public defenders to district courts around the county.

Six of those nominees have been confirmed, giving Biden more public defenders confirmed for lifetime appointments to the federal court than any other president in history. He has also nominated several former defenders to appeals court, and his lone Supreme Court nominee, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, worked for two years as a public defender.

Gaston graduated from Emory University in 1993 and got her law degree in 1996 from University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She held several positions at the public defender office, perhaps most notably working on juvenile cases, including the high-profile case of a then-10-year-old East County boy with mental health and developmental issues accused of fatally stabbing his 12-year-old playmate in 2012.

She is currently assigned to the San Diego Central courthouse downtown where she handles trials and works in the collaborative courts program. That program includes specialized courts such as Drug Court, Veterans Treatment Court and Behavioral Health Court that provide treatment and supervision for qualified individuals instead of incarceration.

Federal judges must be confirmed by the Senate, and they have a lifetime appointment.

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