Brooklyn-based lawyer Margaret Garnett confirmed as federal court judge

margaret garnett and chuck schumer
Margaret Garnett (left) has been confirmed to Manhattan federal court.
Photo courtesy of Sen. Chuck Schumer/X

A familiar face will take on a prestigious role in Manhattan federal court, Sen. Chuck Schumer announced on Tuesday. 

The U.S. Senate on Nov. 28 voted 49-46 to confirm Brooklynite Margaret Garnett as a District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after Schumer recommended her for the position and championed her nomination.

“Margaret Garnett, a proud fellow Brooklynite, brings extensive legal and leadership experience, as well as innate fairness, to the federal bench,” Schumer said in a statement. “She is a consummate professional, full of integrity and steady judgement, and has mastered many areas of the federal law.”

Garnett currently serves as the Deputy United States Attorney for the Southern District, where she oversees the court’s criminal and civil divisions.

According to Schumer, in her current role, Garnett manages a large team of prosecutors as they conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions on cases involving everything from national security and terrorism to organized crime. She also oversees a smaller civil team as they conduct civil litigation on behalf of the U.S. 

Garnett, who lives in Brooklyn with her family, started her career at a major New York law firm in 2000. In 2004, she became a clerk for Judge Gerard E. Lynch of the Southern District of New York, and went on to become the Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern district in 2005. 

In 2018, she was brought on as a commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation — and concurrently worked as Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice in the New York Attorney General’s office. Garnett took on her current role in the Southern District in 2021. 

During her lengthy legal career, Garnett has played a role in a number of important cases — in 2012, she worked was part of a federal inquiry that exonerated five men who had been falsely convicted of a 1995 murder. At the Department of Investigation, Garnett led an investigation of the NYPD’s response to racial justice protests — and in 2021, she released a report accusing then-mayor Bill de Blasio of misusing public funding for his own personal needs.  

“Ms. Garnett has devoted her legal career to strengthening our nation, preserving our democracy, and ensuring all Americans have access to equal justice,” Schumer added. “She is a brilliant legal thinker and has the ideal temperament, experience and skills for a federal district court judge. I am confident she will bring her remarkable legal talent and abiding commitment to the rule of law to the federal court.”

Civil rights leaders also applauded Garnett’s confirmation. In a statement, Lena Zwarensteyn, senior director of the fair courts program at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, applauded the Senate’s decision and thanked Schumer for helping to choose “outstanding” nominees. Earlier this month, the Senate confirmed another of Schumer’s appointees  — Ramon E. Reyes, who will be the second Hispanic man to sit on the bench in the Eastern District of New York. 

“[Garnett’s] significant background holding those in positions of power accountable — including overseeing the investigation into the NYPD’s shameful handling of racial justice protests during the summer of 2020 — is critically important experience that demonstrates her commitment to pursuing equal justice for all,” Zwarensteyn said.