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Federal judge breaks new ground

Union Leader Correspondent

February 21. 2014 10:06PM
District Judge Landya McCafferty gets sworn in by Judge Norman Stahl at Federal Court in Concord on Friday. Also pictured is her husband, Patrick. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

CONCORD — Family, friends and the state's judicial community turned out Friday to see the first female U.S. District Court judge sworn-in.

Landya McCafferty of Portsmouth, was nominated by President Barack Obama in May, recommended by the state's senior Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December.

At the swearing in ceremony, Shaheen noted it was not McCafferty's gender that qualifies her for the post, but rather professional experience and her personal qualities.

Shaheen told those gathered for the ceremony that when she learned Judge Stephen McAuliffe was retiring, she wanted to recommend highly qualified candidates as she did for judgeships when she was governor.

She did not know McCafferty then but quickly heard from lawyers across the state that she should be considered.

"I was struck by Landya's intellect, thoughtfulness, and level temperament. Landya also struck me as someone who understands people," Shaheen said. "It's hard to define judicial temperament, but I think we all know it when we see it. And that was the case with Landya."

While her confirmation was caught up in partisan fighting over judicial nominees, there was never a question that McCafferty would not be confirmed, Shaheen said.

"I know being a judge is a very difficult job. Every day judges are called upon to make decisions that literally determine people's futures. There's a lot of pressure and stress," Shaheen said. "The best a judge can do is to apply the law, be fair, and then call 'em as you see 'em. Landya was born to be a judge."

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., helped to usher McCafferty's nomination through a deeply divided U.S. Senate last fall.

At the ceremony, Ayotte, who served as New Hampshire Attorney General, also noted McCafferty's place in state history and praised her qualifications for the position.

"Landya has all the qualities we want in a judge — intelligent, fair, hard-working, and of sound character. Throughout her career, she's shown a real commitment to excellence," Ayotte said. "She is so qualified to serve on this court, and I'm so pleased that she is making history as the first woman to serve on the federal bench in New Hampshire."

Before her confirmation, McCafferty had been a Federal magistrate at U.S. District Court in Concord since 2010.

She served as an attorney for the New Hampshire Public Defender and spent over six years as counsel for the NH Attorney Discipline Office.

McCafferty's served as clerk for Judge Norman H. Stahl at both the U.S. District Court in Concord and the First Circuit of Appeals in Boston. She was a clerk for Judge A. David Mazzone at the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

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