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A Maine Superior Court justice defended her sentencing record at a judicial hearing on Thursday

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.
Andrew Harnik
/
AP
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, speaks as U.S. Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton appears before a Senate Rules and Administration Committee oversight hearing on the Jan. 6, attack on the Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.

Maine Superior Court Justice Julia Lipez defended her sentencing record at a hearing before the U.S. Senate's Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

A former federal prosecutor, Lipez was nominated by President Joe Biden last month to serve on the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

She was introduced at the hearing by Maine Sen. Angus King, who said he had "never seen a stronger candidate for a judicial position." King pointed to letters of recommendations from previous colleagues, former chief justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, and the Maine Bar Association.

"An extraordinary level of support, totally non-partisan, and I think Julia Lipez would be an extraordinary, extraordinary member of the first circuit. She is smart, capable, qualified but also humble, and has a perfect judicial temperament," King said.

But several Republicans were critical of Lipez for handing down what they characterized as light sentences in specific cases related to sexual abuse of a minor and the death of an infant.

Lipez defended her actions in those cases and noted that she had support from the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

"I believe that support is a reflection of the work I did as a prosecutor, as well as the care I take with cases involving victims, as a judge," Lipez said.

Committee leaders didn't indicate when they may vote on Lipez's nomination.

If approved, Lipez would replace Judge William Kayatta, who is retiring from active status.