WASHINGTON -- Gloria Navarro had no idea that Wednesday was the day the Senate would decide whether to confirm her as Nevada's newest federal judge.
Navarro, 42, said a staffer from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office called her over the lunch hour and asked whether she had access to a TV. A co-worker in the civil division of the Clark County district attorney's office quickly found the confirmation hearing online, while Navarro alerted her mother and husband.
The nominee caught the tail end of the Senate's roll call vote. The Senate approved Navarro 98-0.
"Gloria Navarro has proven throughout her personal and professional life that she embodies the values our country cherishes: hard work, discipline and respect for the rule of law," said Reid, D-Nev., who nominated her for the post.
Navarro said she received her first congratulatory call from Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.
"Senator Reid called and, bless his heart, he apologized for not giving me prior notice," Navarro said.
The confirmation means Navarro, a chief deputy district attorney, will become the first Hispanic woman to join the federal bench in Nevada.
"I think diversity on the federal bench is important, so she is a pioneer in that sense," said Carl Tobias, a former law professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Navarro replaces Brian Sandoval, who gave up the lifetime appointment to run for governor.
While Navarro's confirmation was a foregone conclusion, Tobias said Reid probably deserves credit for moving the process along so quickly. Tobias, who now teaches at the University of Richmond in Virginia, said 101 vacancies remain on U.S. district and appellate courts.
Navarro was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in early March, but a final vote on her confirmation, and those of several other nominees, was held up as Republicans and Democrats remained at loggerheads over approving new judges.
With Navarro, the Senate on Wednesday confirmed Nancy Freudenthal by a 96-1 vote to be a U.S. district judge in Wyoming and Denzil Price Marshall by voice vote to become a federal judge in the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Navarro said she does not know when she will start her new job; she first must fill out forms from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy. Tobias estimated she will start in four to six weeks.
When Navarro moves into her new office in the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas, she will be working across the street from the building where her grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins became U.S. citizens. Navarro, the child of Cuban immigrants, speaks both English and Spanish.
Navarro said she found it noteworthy that Reid first called to talk to her about the judicial position on Sept. 11, that President Barack Obama nominated her for the job on Christmas Eve and that the Senate confirmed her on Cinco de Mayo.
"I'm thinking we've got to have the investiture on the Fourth of July or something," she joked.
Navarro joined the district attorney's office in 2005. Her husband, Brian Rutledge, works as a chief deputy district attorney in the office's criminal division.
From 2001 to 2004, Navarro worked for the Clark County special public defender's office, where she handled murder cases. She worked in private practice from 1994 to 2001.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760. Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@ reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.