The Honorable Richard Durbin
Senate Judiciary Committee
Dear Chairman Durbin:
On behalf of the Alliance for Justice (AFJ), a national association representing over 120 public interest and civil rights organizations, I write to strongly support the confirmation of Eunice Lee as a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Eunice Lee is eminently qualified to be a federal judge. Lee has spent her career as a public defender in New York City and, if confirmed, will be the only judge on the circuit with experience as a public defender. She will also be only the second Black woman to ever serve on the Second Circuit.
Lee’s career has been immersed in criminal appellate work. She spent over two decades with the Office of the Appellate Defender (OAD) in New York City, becoming a supervising attorney in 2001 after just three years with the organization. Most recently, Lee joined the Federal Defenders of New York in 2019 as a staff attorney. In her career, Lee has represented over 380 indigent clients in both federal and state appellate courts, focusing primarily on post-conviction relief. She has represented clients in numerous habeas proceedings in federal court, one of the most frequent types of cases heard by federal courts of appeal.
Lee has worked to ensure that indigent defendants are represented in court and that her clients’ constitutional and statutory rights have been protected throughout the entire criminal process. Recently, Lee successfully argued for the compassionate release of a client who had a heightened vulnerability to the COVID-19 virus. United States v. Gargan, Docket No. 18-cr-723 (S.D.N.Y. 2020).
Excelling at every step of her career, Eunice Lee graduated summa cum laude from Ohio State University in 1993 and received her J.D. from Yale Law School three years later. She was a 1993 recipient of the Earl Warren Shearman and Sterling NAACP Scholarship. After receiving her law degree, Lee clerked for Judge Susan Dlott of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and Judge Eric Clay of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Outside of the courtroom, Lee has worked to train the next generation of public servants. She served as the Office of the Appellate Defender’s director of recruitment and outreach, recruiting, supervising, and training new staff and pro bono attorneys. From 2003 to 2019, she was an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law where she designed and taught the Criminal Appellate Defender Clinic. In 2014, Lee helped to draft the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services Appellate Standards and Best Practices.
Given her exemplary qualifications, the Senate should expeditiously confirm Eunice Lee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.