New Chief Judge Named in Federal E.D. Courthouse

Margo Brodie Now Leads Trend: Groundbreaking Women Judges

January 6, 2021 Raanan Geberer

In the wake of U.S. Eastern District Court Chief Judge Roslynn Mauskopf’s appointment as director of the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge Margo K. Brodie is slated to become chief judge at the Brooklyn federal courthouse as of Feb. 1.

As such, Judge Brodie will be the Eastern District’s fourth consecutive female chief judge as well as the Eastern District’s first Black chief judge. 

“It is a privilege and an honor,” Judge Brodie told the New York Law Journal.

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Judge Brodie, a native of Antigua, graduated from a local Brooklyn school — St. Francis College on Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights — and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She was confirmed as a federal district judge in 2012 after being nominated by then-President Barack Obama.

Before being nominated to the bench, she had been a Brooklyn federal prosecutor since 1999 and the deputy chief of the Criminal Division of the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office on Cadman Plaza East since 2010.

Chief Judge Roslynn Mauskopf, soon to be headed to Washington, D.C. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

Prior to becoming a federal prosecutor, Brodie worked at the law firm of Carter, Ledyard & Millburn from 1994 to 1999 and at the New York City Law Department from 1991 to 1994.

Judge Mauskopf had been chief judge of the Eastern District since February of this year. As the Eagle reported, she was appointed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to her new post on Tuesday. The director is the chief administrative officer of the federal courts and serves under the direction of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the principal policymaking body for the federal court system.

Judge Mauskopf was appointed to the bench in 2007 by then-President George Bush at the recommendation of then-Gov. George Pataki.  Beforehand, she served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, the New York State Inspector General and as an assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, beginning in 1982.

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She is a Brandeis University and Georgetown University Law Center graduate. She once told a newspaper that she became a judge because her parents, both Holocaust survivors, had been imprisoned in Nazi Germany despite the lack of a trial, any jury or a judge, according to an Eagle article published earlier this year.

Hon. Dora Irizarry, senior U.S. district judge, Eastern District Court of New York. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

Judge Dora Irizarry, her immediate predecessor, took over for Hon. Carol Bagley Amon as the chief judge in April 2016. She became a federal court judge, the first Hispanic judge in the district, in 2003 after she was nominated by President George W. Bush.

Judge Irizarry was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in the Bronx, attended the Bronx High School of Science and went on to graduate from Yale University and Columbia Law School. Starting in 1979, she worked as an assistant district attorney, then was appointed as Criminal Court judge by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and finally as Court of Claims Judge by Pataki. In 2003, she ran unsuccessfully for New York State attorney general as a Republican against Eliot Spitzer. 

According to an Eagle article covering her swearing-in as chief judge in Brooklyn Federal Court in 2016, the first thing she did was to offer a warning to those who were used to dealing with Hon. Carol Bagley Amon’s humor: “I have to start with a caveat in the form of open disclosure — I simply am not funny,” Irizarry said, drawing laughter and applause. “So don’t expect the charming wit of Chief Judge Amon, or Judge Dearie or Judge Gleason. It’s just not happening.”

Hon. Carol Bagley Amon, senior U.S. district judge, Eastern District Court of New York. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

Judge Bagley Amon was born in Richmond, Virginia and graduated from College of William and Mary and University of Virginia School of Law. She was a staff attorney at various federal agencies during the early 1970s, served as assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District from 1974 to 1986, served as a U.S. magistrate judge for four years, then was appointed to Eastern District Federal Court by then-President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

In 2017, Judge Bagley Amon reflected on her career upon the occasion of a portrait of her being unveiled in the courthouse, a tradition when a judge reaches senior status.  She reflected back on her career that started in 1974 when she became an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District back when there were not many women doing the job. She said that it was just her and Hon. Reena Raggi on the bench when became a magistrate judge in Brooklyn 1986. 

“The overwhelming emotion I have today is gratitude,” Bagley Amon said. “I am so grateful to have been given the responsibility to serve the country as a federal judge, a unique position where lifetime tenure gives you the ability to do as you feel the law and Constitution require without fear of political reprisal. After 26 years, I still look forward into walking into the courthouse.”


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