WASHINGTON – During today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned Judge Dena M. Coggins, nominated to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of California, about her work regarding juvenile justice.

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“Can you make any general observations or help us understand the challenges these young people are facing and how we should respond?” Durbin asked.

Judge Coggins responded that with juveniles, it’s important to implement rehabilitation. She continued to say in regard to rehabilitation what she sees, “in California and across the country [that is successful], is working on collaboration and working on prevention, intervention, and treatment for juveniles.” She also highlighted the drug epidemic among our nation’s youth and specifically how fentanyl harms our juvenile communities. Since 2021, Judge Coggins has served as a judge on the Superior Court of California in Sacramento County. In that role, she has handled assignments in both the Criminal Division and Juvenile Court.

Durbin then asked how trauma can harm children across the country. Judge Coggins responded that she currently serves on the Juvenile Trauma Response Court and the purpose is to help juveniles who have experienced significant trauma. She continued, “we often see [juvenile dependent] youth who have been traumatized, abused, or neglected.” She continued to say the Trauma Response Court is looking at treatments and resources to avoid recidivism and allow juveniles to re-enter society.

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Durbin continued, “I guess the real question is [whether there is] chance for rehabilitation? Can their lives [get back on track]? You’ve had plenty of these types of cases. What’re your thoughts?”

Judge Coggins responded that California Juvenile Court Judges are considered to be leaders in the community. She continued, “we [juvenile court judges] investigate and also collaborate with community partners to assess the needs of the youth.” She confirmed that due to juvenile rehabilitation, the community feels safer.

Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Under the leadership of Chair Durbin, the Senate has confirmed 181 judges to lifetime appointments on the federal bench during the Biden Administration. Twelve lifetime judges – including three circuit court nominees and nine district court nominees – are eligible for a vote on the Senate floor.

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