Senate confirms Torresen as first female U.S. District judge in Maine

Posted Oct. 03, 2011, at 2:16 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 04, 2011, at 11:27 a.m.
Nancy Torresen
Courtesy photo
Nancy Torresen

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed Nancy Torresen of Bangor for a federal judgeship.

“I’m thrilled,” said Torresen, 51. “I’m very honored and I feel very grateful to U.S. Sens. [Susan] Collins and [Olympia] Snowe for their support. I’m also feeling very grateful to Reps. [Chellie] Pingree and [Mike] Michaud. I’m very thankful to all of them.”

A federal prosecutor, Torresen will be the first female U.S. District judge in Maine.

In a telephone interview a few minutes after her confirmation, Torresen said her swearing-in had not been scheduled.

“I’m looking forward to being sworn in and getting to work,” she said. “I will be sitting in Portland, and I’m hoping to get to work in the next two weeks.”

U.S. District Judge John Woodcock, who serves as the chief federal judge in Maine, offered congratulations Tuesday to Torresen.

“Ms. Torresen brings exceptional intellect, experience and judgment to the bench,” he said in a press release. “Upon her appointment by the President and swearing in, she will preside in Portland and we all look forward to Ms. Torresen’s contributions to the vital work of the federal court. We welcome her as our newest colleague.”

Torresen’s name was sent to the White House by Michaud and Pingree, both Maine Democrats, late last year. In March, President Barack Obama nominated her to replace U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby in Portland. He assumed senior status a year ago but plans to maintain a full caseload.

In May, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended that Torresen be confirmed.

Michaud and Pingree issued a joint statement after her confirmation.

“We’re pleased that Nancy Torresen received unanimous support in the Senate,” they said. “Her diverse legal background will bring a fresh perspective and a breadth of experience and knowledge to the federal bench in Maine.”

Collins entered a statement Monday into the Senate record before the vote.

“I am impressed by her dedication and passion for the law,” she said. “I also appreciate her 21-year-long commitment to public service. She has remarked that she is proudest of her criminal prosecution efforts because of the urgent need to protect the public from violent criminals and her desire not to let down the victims.

“Ms. Torresen’s work as a prosecutor in both the federal and state judicial systems, her integrity, her temperament, and her respect for precedent make her well qualified to serve as Maine’s next federal judge,” Collins continued. “Maine has a long, proud history of superb federal judges, and I believe that Ms. Torresen will continue that tradition.”

In a statement issued a few minutes after the Senate voted, Snowe pointed to Torresen’s historic role as the first female U.S. District judge in the state.

“I congratulate Ms. Torresen on becoming only the seventeenth judge to serve on our United States District Court over its 222-year history” Snowe said. “Significantly, she will also be the first woman to serve on this particular court — a watershed moment for Maine.

“Ms. Torresen is being asked to continue the rich tradition of excellence in Maine’s federal judiciary, and I wish her all the best as she takes her seat on the bench,” the senator concluded.

Torresen described being the first female appointee as “very humbling.”

“I feel very honored to have that distinction and I only hope to do us proud,” she said.

Appointments to the federal bench are for life. The salary of a U.S. District judge in 2011 is $174,000 per year, according to information on the website for the federal court system.

Torresen first joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1990 and she initially handled civil matters involving federal agencies. In 1994, she was assigned to the Appellate Section of the Criminal Division of the Maine Attorney General’s Office, where she primarily was responsible for representing the state in appeals of serious violent crime convictions.

In 2001, she returned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and has been responsible for investigating and prosecuting federal crimes.

From 1988 to 1990, Torresen worked at the law firm of Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C. She served as a law clerk to former U.S. District Judge Conrad K. Cyr from 1987 to 1988.

Torresen received her law degree in 1987 from the University of Michigan Law School and her undergraduate degree in 1981 from Hope College in Holland, Mich.

She is married to lawyer Jay McCloskey, who served as U.S. attorney for Maine under President Bill Clinton. The couple live in Bangor.

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