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Jennifer Togliatti sails through federal court confirmation hearing

Updated March 4, 2020 - 5:21 pm

WASHINGTON — Nevada Judge Jennifer Togliatti sailed through her Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday and appeared headed to fill one of two U.S. District Court vacancies in the state.

Both vacancies in Nevada are designated as judicial emergencies because of the length of time that the seats have remained open and the caseload of the Nevada judicial district, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Togliatti — a senior state court judge in Las Vegas — was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2019 to fill a vacancy created in 2018 when U.S. Judge James Mahan took senior status.

Both of Nevada’s Democratic senators, Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, support the nomination and introduced Togliatti to the Senate Judiciary Committee at the hearing.

“She has a great reputation in Southern Nevada,” Cortez Masto told the committee, adding that the nominee also has “the reputation of a fair judge.”

Rosen said, “Jennifer Togliatti is one of the most respected jurists in Nevada,” and the senator urged swift confirmation.

The Togliatti nomination wasn’t considered controversial, and committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., gave it his approval with two others before the committee Wednesday.

“Congratulations to all the nominees,” Graham said. “It’s a big day in your lives.”

Lots of work awaits

Under questioning by the committee, Togliatti said she expects her biggest transition from years on the state bench will be the current federal case backlog. “The caseload is going to be significant,” Togliatti said, adding that she plans to “step right up and try cases immediately.”

The Nevada nominee also pledged to follow the law as it applies to the death penalty after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, raised concerns about judicial activism in the 9th U.S. Circuit, which includes Nevada, eight other states and U.S. Pacific territories.

Sitting behind her during the hearing were Togliatti’s husband, daughter, son, mother and father, as well as other family members and friends.

A committee vote on the nomination is expected within weeks. If the committee votes to advance the nominee, a floor vote on confirmation would follow.

“The judge is a well-qualified, mainstream nominee, so I expect that she will easily capture appointment,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond School of Law professor and founding faculty member of the Boyd Law School at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The Togliatti nomination could be advanced by the committee this month and confirmed by the Senate as early as May, Tobias said.

More nominees to come

Outside the hearing, Cortez Masto said a judicial commission in Nevada assembled by her and Rosen have selected potential candidates for nomination and have forward three names to the White House.

The U.S. Judicial District of Nevada has seven seats. There are two vacancies.

U.S. Judge Robert Clive Jones took senior status on Feb. 1, 2016, a seat that has remained unfilled for over three years.

Another vacancy created by Mahan in June would be filled by Togliatti, if confirmed.

Both Jones and Mahan were appointed by President George W. Bush.

In addition to serving as a senior judge, Togliatti also works as a private mediator and arbitrator for complex civil litigation cases and mass torts, according to the White House.

Togliatti served as chief judge on Nevada’s 8th Judicial District Court from 2011 to 2014. Before joining the state District Court, she served as Las Vegas Justice Court judge. She is also a former deputy district attorney for Clark County.

Togliatti earned a bachelor’s degree from UNLV and a law degree from California Western School of Law.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-622-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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