Judge Mia Perez, three others confirmed to serve on the federal bench
Hon. Perez is one of 33 judges elevated to the U.S District Court of Pennsylvania, the highest in all but two rivaling states —New York and California.
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Courts in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are poised to receive a freshman class of four federal judges this week as part of a decade-long Senate effort by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to confirm 33 members to the Commonwealth’s judiciary.
On the judicial roster, announced by Sens. Casey and Toomey, are Judges Mia Perez, Kai Scott, Kelley Hodge, and John Murphy, three of whom served the city as attorneys in their careers.
“Judge Mia Perez’s impressive work as a former public defender and one of the youngest judges ever elected to the Court of Common Pleas demonstrates her bona fide credentials,” Sen. Casey said in a statement
Hon. Perez’s name floated around in a list of potentials in July when President Joe Biden elevated a list of 112 nominees upon taking office and the administration’s efforts to diversify the nation’s federal courts.
“I’m pleased the Senate has confirmed four well-qualified nominees to serve as federal district court judges for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania,” Sen. Toomey said.
“John Murphy, Kelley Hodge, Kai Scott, and Mia Perez will bring with them to the bench the experience, intellect, and integrity necessary to excel as federal judges. I appreciate their willingness to serve in this important role in our constitutional system,” Sen. Toomey continued.
Hon. Perez — the second Latina to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania — first served on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas when she was elected in 2016.
Deeply entrenched in Philadelphia’s judicial system, Hon. Perez witnessed the inner workings of the city’s courts in several forms before presiding over them.
After obtaining her law dedication from Temple University in 2006, a young, rookie attorney, Perez served as an Associate Defender for the Defender Association of Philadelphia (ADAP), a calvary of lawyers dedicated to community-driven services.
After four years of non-profit work with the ADAP, Hon. Perez transitioned to the private sector, working as an associate for Friedman Schuman, based in Philly, where she served for a year before opening up her own shop.
In 2011, Hon. Perez managed a firm until she was tapped to serve in the County Court of Common Pleas in 2016, in a continued, successful streak in her field.
But despite her burgeoning career, Hon. Perez was acutely aware of the need for representation in the courts, especially as it concerned client representation.
She noted that, as a member of the judiciary, “I’m supposed to work with impartiality. However, impartiality and lack of education are two different things.”
“I can be impartial to the parties that are involved, but if someone is coming to me with a specific set of circumstances, I need to have the education, or the background, to understand those circumstances,” Hon. Perez told AL DÍA in a previous interview.
Her sentiment echoes those of Hon. Teresa Sarmina, a Philly Mexican-American Judge and legal powerhouse, who made it her mission to empower competent legal representation in her courtroom and whose portrait will hang in the city’s judicial hall.
“We are working with a group that for a long time has been disenfranchised and not just when it comes to judicial elections but overall,” Hon. Perez recalled about the system she supervises.
Regarding the system where she has litigated and presided over as Judge, Hon. Perez says the city has “entire floors of our criminal justice center that are dedicated to the east division of Philly, which is primarily Latino.”
“Why do we currently only have Judge [Angeles] Roca in family court and Judge [Teresa] Sarmina in the civil division? We don't have any other Latino judges in the common pleas court. That’s why we have to get the voters to understand,” Hon. Perez underlined.
The recent slate of appointments also sets a precedent for the Biden administration, which this month secured a 51-49 majority in the U.S. Senate, allowing for a smoother nomination-to-confirmation pipeline in the nation’s federal benches.
And Philly is well ahead in that department.
This year, the Senate unanimously confirmed U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, making her the first Latina in history to occupy that role.