Senate approves two for federal judgeships

Claire C. Cecchi, alum in, June 15, 2011

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Two federal magistrates sitting in Newark were unanimously approved for promotion to U.S. District Court judgeships by the Senate on Tuesday.

Esther Salas and Claire C. Cecchi both have served as magistrates, who handle motions and other proceedings, since 2006. In December, President Obama nominated the two to judgeships, which carry lifetime tenure.

U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, both D-N.J., spoke in favor of their nominations before the vote.

"They'll bring honor to the people of New Jersey and our country," Lautenberg said.

Menendez said they were "two of New Jersey's most respected legal professionals."

Salas was born in Los Angeles and earned her bachelor's and law degrees from Rutgers University. She worked nearly 10 years as a federal public defender and was head of the Hispanic Bar Association before becoming the first Latina magistrate in New Jersey.

Cecchi was born in New York City and earned her degrees from Barnard College and Fordham University's law school. She previously worked for 14 years in private practice, primarily as a civil litigator, and had been assistant corporate counsel for New York City.

Cecchi was approved in a 98-0 vote. Salas was approved immediately afterward in a voice vote.