President Joe Biden’s nominee for the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C., Judge Todd Edelman, has failed to garner enough votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee, meaning his nomination will expire on Jan. 3, when the 117th Congress ends.
Edelman, who currently sits on the district’s Superior Court, was nominated by Biden in September.
Edelman presided over a case involving Wingfield, who was awaiting trial for illegal possession of a firearm and released him with a GPS-monitoring ankle bracelet.
Shortly after his release, Wingfield was involved in the death of an 11-year-old boy, Davon McNeal, while attending a supposed anti-violence cookout on July 4, 2020.
Davon, a sixth-grader and star running back for his youth football team, was hit in the head by a stray bullet when a gang opened fire in the neighborhood where the cookout was taking place.
The cookout had been organized by Davon’s mother, Crystal McNeal, who said in a statement to The Washington Post at the time: “I don’t care how many times I go to the grave site, how many times I pray, how many times I cry. That is not going to bring my child back, and I go through that every day when these guys still get to talk to their loved ones on the phone.”
Wingfield, along with two other individuals, pleaded guilty to manslaughter relating to Davon’s death in February.
Edelman was questioned about his decision to release Wingfield during a nomination hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) noting that Davon was an “innocent child caught in the crossfire.”
“When you made the choice to release Mr. Wingfield, you knew these following facts,” Blackburn told Edelman at the hearing. “You knew that he had multiple arrests for illegally possessing a firearm. And you know that he had been identified as the person who, on another occasion, had been shooting a gun in the street at 1 p.m. in broad daylight.”
“You knew that only a week earlier, another judge had written an opinion denying his (Wingfield’s) motion for release because he was a danger to the community. You knew that releasing him with a GPS ankle bracelet wouldn’t protect the community because he had already illegally fired a gun while he was on GPS monitoring for a prior offense,” Blackburn added.
The Republican lawmaker branded Edelman’s decision “reckless.”
“I cannot support a nominee who has shown such reckless disregard for his duty to keep Americans safe,” she added.
In response, Edelman said he recalled, “virtually all the facts” that Blackburn raised but defended his decision to release Wingfield with a GPS-monitoring ankle bracelet because he had “no violent convictions in his record” when he appeared before the Judge.
Edelman also stated that a subsequent investigation found that “another individual was identified” as the person who actually fired the shots that killed 11-year-old Davon and that Wingfield “had not even fired a gun” on the evening that Davon was killed.
The judge then went on to state that Wingfield pleaded guilty to “a lesser charge” of associating with the group that killed McNeal and was not the person who fired the gun, despite the fact that he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
Blackburn responded by stating that she does not believe Edelman “has the judgment” needed to be a federal judge, especially in a city like Washington, D.C., where violent crime is on the rise.
Earlier in December, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 230 national organizations aimed at promoting and protecting the civil and human rights of Americans, shared its support for Edelman to be confirmed by the Senate for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In a statement, the coalition said Edelman’s “significant legal career and experience as a fair-minded jurist will make him a great addition to this court,” and that his “commitment to pursuing equal justice for all people makes him eminently qualified to serve on the court.”