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Judge in Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Nominated to Second Circuit (1)

Nov. 17, 2021, 3:08 PMUpdated: Nov. 17, 2021, 10:13 PM

The district judge presiding over Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial was one of two planned circuit court nominees President Joe Biden announced Wednesday, teeing her up for possible elevation to the New York-based appeals court while she oversees the high-profile trial.

Alison Nathan, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, will be nominated to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The White House announcement came a day after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he recommended her for the seat to White House.

Biden also announced he intends to nominate Andre Mathis, a Memphis-based lawyer at Butler Snow LLP, to a Tennessee seat on the Sixth Circuit. Mathis is Biden’s first circuit pick in a state with at least one Republican senator.

Nathan is currently presiding over the high-profile trial of Maxwell, who is charged with aiding Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of underage girls. At jury selection Wednesday morning, Nathan said she’d continue working on the trial until it’s over if she were formally nominated.

“If I am nominated I—like every other district judge before me who has been considered for elevation to the circuit court—will continue to do my day job, which means presiding over this trial until completion and handling the hundreds of other civil and criminal matters on my docket. So let’s get to work,” Nathan said.

The Second Circuit is the appeals court Biden has had the most opportunity to restock so far. Biden already appointed three judges to the court, giving it a majority of Democratic appointees, and he has three available vacancies to fill.

Schumer previously recommended Nathan for the seat she holds now during the Obama administration. If confirmed, she’d be the second openly lesbian woman to serve as a U.S. appellate court judge, Schumer said in a tweet.

—With assistance from Patricia Hurtado

(Updates with White House intent to nominate Nathan and Mathis.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at; John Crawley at