Judge Katherine Menendez was confirmed by the Senate on December 17th, 2021. She was a career federal public defender who served as a federal magistrate judge in the District of Minnesota from 2016 to 2021.
From 1997 to 2016, Menendez served in the Minnesota Office of the Federal Defender. She first joined the office through a fellowship program and later became Assistant Federal Defender in 1999. She was Chief of Training from 2006 to 2016 and argued twice before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2015, Menendez successfully convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a portion of the Armed Career Criminal Act, a Reagan-era “three strikes” law that she argued made it too easy for prosecutors to lengthen sentences based on previous minor crimes.
Upon confirmation, Judge Menendez became the first former federal public defender to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota and the only former public defender among its active judges.
Judge Menendez received her B.A. from the University of Chicago in 1993 and her J.D. from New York University Law School in 1996. She clerked for Judge Sam Ervin of the Ninth Circuit.