obama makes first ju­di­cial pick for state

Law­mak­ers from both par­ties ex­press sup­port for nom­i­nee

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE - By tim Ea­ton

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Wed­nes­day made his first nom­i­na­tion to the fed­eral bench in Texas.

Judge Diana Sal­daña, 39, has been nom­i­nated for U.S. district judge in the South­ern District’s Laredo Di­vi­sion. If con­firmed by the Se­nate, she would re­place Chief Judge Ge­orge Kazen.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, chair­man of the Texas Demo­cratic del­e­ga­tion in Congress, said Sal­daña, a U.S. mag­is­trate judge in the same Laredo district, should be con­firmed quickly. The two U.S. sen­a­tors from Texas — Kay Bai­ley Hutchi­son and John Cornyn, both Repub­li­cans — both an­nounced their sup­port for Sal­daña on Wed­nes­day.

“We set the high­est stan­dards for those we rec­om­mend to the Pres­i­dent for nom­i­na­tion to the fed­eral ju­di­ciary,” Hutchi­son said in a state­ment. “Ms. Sal­daña has some of the finest qual­i­ties we ex­pect in our judges.”

Cornyn said in an e-mail: “Ms. Sal­daña’s proper ju­di­cial tem­per­a­ment and faith­ful ad­her­ence to the rule of law as a judge un­doubt­edly will serve her well in her new role on the bench. Her ex­pe­ri­ence in pros­e­cut­ing hu­man traf­fick­ing and gang cases, some of the most vi­o­lent and com­plex faced by pros­e­cu­tors, has

made her among the tough­est law en­forcers in South Texas.”

Sal­daña could not be reached for com­ment Wed­nes­day.

Orig­i­nally from Car­rizo Springs, Sal­daña worked as a clerk early in her law ca­reer for Kazen, the man she would re­place.

She served as a staff at­tor­ney for the gen­eral coun­sel of the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and the Civil Rights Di­vi­sion of the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice.

She also worked at Beirne, May­nard & Par­sons, LLP in Hous­ton be­fore join­ing the U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice, where she was in charge of the hu­man traf­fick­ing and anti-gang task forces.

Since 2006, Sal­daña has been a mag­is­trate judge in the Laredo Di­vi­sion.

Doggett and other Democrats in Congress have been crit­i­cal of the pres­i­dent in re­cent months for mov­ing slowly with ap­point­ments for fed­eral judges and other po­si­tions.

“I hope this an­nounce­ment means we will see ac­tion very soon on the pend­ing nom­i­na­tions in Texas,” Doggett said in a state­ment.

The slow nom­i­na­tion process is a prob­lem across the coun­try, but it’s a ma­jor is­sue in Texas be­cause of the heavy caseload of drug and im­mi­gra­tion cases, Doggett said in an in­ter­view in Fe­bru­ary.

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