Senate Confirms Former Federal Prosecutor to Third Circuit
By Jennifer Koons | April 9, 2013 3:11 pm

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Patty Shwartz for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Patti Shwartz

The senators voted 64-34 along party lines to approve the New Jersey federal magistrate judge to the Philadelphia-based appeals court, which handles cases from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Despite vocal objections from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Shwartz last March.

At the time, Grassley said he could not support Shwartz’s nomination because of “ambiguity” in her testimony and concerns she may have promised things to one of her home-state senators, Democrat Robert Menendez.

Menendez had initially blocked her nomination, reportedly because he was upset that Shwartz’s long-time companion, a federal prosecutor, had pursued a public corruption case against him. Menendez ultimately recommended the federal magistrate judge after meeting with her a second time.

During a committee hearing in February 2012, Grassley asked the Newark, N.J.-based Shwartz to explain what changed Menendez’s mind on her nomination. She told the committee that she could not speak for Menendez and that she did not give him any type of “assurances” on how she might rule on cases.

In the written responses, Shwartz said in her two meetings with Menendez, the two talked about a variety of legal issues and cases, but “at at no time did he ask for, nor did I offer, my personal views nor did I give any indication as to how I would rule on any issue that might come before me as a judge.”

Prior to becoming a magistrate judge, Shwartz served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of New Jersey. While at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she held various supervisory positions, including Chief of the Criminal Division.

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