Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today delivered remarks at the Senate Judiciary Committee introducing Nina Morrison as President Biden’s nominee to serve as a District Judge for the Eastern District of New York. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
I want to thank Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley, and all the members of the Committee for the opportunity to come before you and introduce a truly standout nominee to the federal bench.
I always—always—look forward to the days when I am able to return to this Committee, where I served for so long alongside so many of you. So thank you for your graciousness in recognizing me today.
Today, it is my honor to introduce a great New Yorker nominated to serve as a federal judge: Nina Morrison, and her daughter is here with her. Nina Morrison, whom I urged President Biden to select as a District Judge for the Eastern District of New York.
Ms. Morrison has all the qualities necessary to be an outstanding member of the federal bench. For one, she was born and raised in New York—what else do I need to say?
All kidding aside, Ms. Morrison’s credentials are impeccable. She is a graduate of Yale, NYU School of Law, and clerked for Judge Pierre Leval on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
After law school and her clerkship, Ms. Morrison embarked on a career path that is all too rare for those nominated to the federal bench. She is not from a big corporate law firm. Nor is she a federal prosecutor.
Rather, she is something else entirely: an attorney who has dedicated the bulk of her career to representing those who could not speak for themselves, and more precisely those wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit.
As Executive Director—and now Senior Litigation Counsel—at the Innocence Project, Ms. Morrison has spent the last two decades working at an organization dedicated to representing indigent individuals incarcerated at both the state and federal level, assisting these people with various forms of post-conviction relief.
And I want to be clear: the Innocence Project isn’t just where she works, it’s an institution she helped grow from the ground up, taking what began as a Clinic at Cardozo School of Law and turning it into one of the nation’s premiere criminal justice reform organizations. Hers is truly laudable work.
Over the years, Ms. Morrison has been lead counsel or co-counsel in cases that freed more than 30 innocent individuals, and not just from prison, but sometimes from death row. From death row.
Her work is not just a shining example of justice, it is literally lifesaving.
And through it all, Ms. Morrison is respected across New York as a highly reasonable, even-mannered, and deeply knowledgeable attorney. She’s been invited to train prosecutors and judges on best practices for discovery, use of evidence, and conviction practices. When prosecutors reach out to attorneys who represent convicted individuals for advice, it’s a sure sign of respect, trust, and confidence in Ms. Morrison’s judgment. Prosecutors reaching out to her.
For all these reasons—from her credentials, to her experience, to her reputation as a trusted and fair-minded individual—I have every bit of confidence Ms. Morrison would make an excellent judge.
For years, as we all know, our courts have been overrepresented with individuals who check certain boxes: disproportionately white men, from elite institutions, who worked either in Corporate Law Firms or as prosecutors. Many of them, including many I have recommended, have served admirably, but we need more perspectives on the bench like the one Ms. Morrison would bring.
And don’t take my word for it: today this committee will have a chance to hear from her directly. I want to thank Ms. Morrison for being here, I want to congratulate her on her nomination, and I thank my colleagues for their graciousness in letting me speak this morning.