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Bar News - March 19, 2014

Court News: ‘The Last of the Firsts’

US District Court Judge Landya McCafferty becomes the first woman judge in the District of NH

US District Court Judge Landya McCafferty is sworn-in Feb. 21 at the federal court in Concord by Senior Judge Norman Stahl of the First Circuit Court of Appeals. US Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, as well as federal bankruptcy court judges Bruce Harwood and Michael Deasy, look on.
US District Court Judge Landya McCafferty’s investiture ceremony was a proud and emotional moment not just for McCafferty, who was composed but visibly moved by the proceedings, but also for all people who believe the federal judiciary should be representative of the country’s population.

The ceremony held at the federal courthouse in Concord on Feb. 21 was attended by state and federal dignitaries, including Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, several sitting and retired federal court judges, and the justices of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Led by First Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sandra Lynch, who was the first woman judge in the federal circuit court, a procession of McCafferty’s colleagues took to the podium to describe McCafferty’s qualifications for the bench. Lynch said she always hoped to see the day when a woman had presided over each of the federal courts in the First Circuit.

“Today, we celebrate the last of the firsts…” said Lynch. “The President and the Senate were very wise to put someone of her quality, character and experience into this very important job.”

A former public defender and disciplinary counsel (the first to serve in this role) at the NH Attorney Discipline Office, McCafferty most recently served as a federal magistrate judge and is known as an early technology adopter throughout the New Hampshire bar.

Sen. Shaheen, the first woman to serve as governor of New Hampshire and as a US Senator from New Hampshire, said McCafferty “was born to be a judge.”

“It’s hard to define judicial temperament, but you know it when you see it, and she has it,” Shaheen said.

Sen. Ayotte, the first woman to serve as attorney general in New Hampshire, said she always felt as if she was following McCafferty in her career – both women practiced at the McLane firm early in their careers and then went on to public service jobs.

“I’m glad that you are going to make history in doing this, because you deserve to be here,” she told McCafferty.

Randy Hawkes, executive director of the New Hampshire Public Defender, used some five-dollar words to describe McCafferty and her academic pursuits but stopped short of “descending into a platitudinous hagiography” to focus more on her work experience at the NHPD.

“She clearly was as comfortable in the trenches as she was in the library,” he said, adding that “Landya is funny. She has a tremendous sense of humor.”

Senior Judge Norman Stahl of the First Circuit Court of Appeals, for whom McCafferty served as a law clerk more than 20 years ago, administered the oath and bestowed upon her the judge’s robe. In her remarks, McCafferty expressed gratitude to her many friends and supporters, including Stahl, and joked to him that “Maybe now that I’m an Article 3 judge, I will finally be able to call you by your first name.”

McCafferty also thanked her family and her private school teacher and coach, who was in the audience. McCafferty replaces US District Court Judge Steven McAuliffe, who recently went on senior status.

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