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Early lifeEdit

Bryant was born in Queens, New York,[1] went to Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California, and graduated from Howard University with her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1975 and later from University of Connecticut School of Law with a Juris Doctor in 1978.

Legal careerEdit

Bryant was in private practice at Day, Berry and Howard (presently Day Pitney) in Hartford, Connecticut, from 1978 to 1981.[1] During the period from 1981 to 1989 she was a counsel to Aetna Life & Casualty Company and to Shawmut Bank from 1989 to 1990. She was the vice president and general counsel to the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority from 1990 to 1992, and in 1991 joined the Connecticut board of pardons, which she stayed on until 1998. She was counsel to, and later a partner of, the New York-based law firm of Hawkins, Delafield and Wood from 1992 to 1998 and the chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut, Bridgeport division from 1996 until she was appointed a Connecticut Superior Court Judge on September 1, 1998.

State judicial serviceEdit

In her capacity as a Superior Court Judge she served as Presiding Judge of the Civil Division of the New Britain Judicial District from 2002 to 2003, Administrative Judge for the Judicial District of Litchfield from 2003 to 2005 and Presiding Judge for the Civil Division of the Judicial District of Hartford from 2006 until her appointment to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. She was also presiding judge of the New Britain Judicial District from 2002 to 2004, and then the Hartford Judicial District from 2006 until her appointment as a federal judge in 2007. During her tenure as a State Court Judge, Judge Bryant received four judicial review complaints.[2]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

Judge Bryant was first nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut on January 25, 2006 by President George W. Bush, though the Senate did not vote on her nomination.[3] Judge Bryant was the 38th person appointed a District Judge in Connecticut and the first African-American woman appointed a federal judge in New England.[4] This nomination came despite majority opinions from the American Bar Association and the Connecticut Bar Association's federal judiciary committees, both of which found her "not qualified."[5][6][7]

On January 9, 2007, President Bush once again nominated Judge Bryant to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, a seat vacated by judge Dominic J. Squatrito.[3] Following her re-nomination, the ABA committee issued a revised opinion, rating her as "qualified".[8][9] Bryant was confirmed by the Senate on March 28, 2007, on a Senate vote and received her commission on April 2, 2007.[3]

Bryant oversaw a lawsuit filed by attorney Konstantine Kyros on behalf of over 60 former professional wrestlers against WWE which alleged that the company did not protect its employees from head trauma. She dismissed the lawsuit in September 2018.[10]


  1. ^ a b "USDOJ: United States Department of Justice Archive - Office of Legal Policy". Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  2. ^[dead link]
  3. ^ a b c "Bryant, Vanessa Lynne - Federal Judicial Center".
  4. ^ Salzman, Ari (29 January 2006). "Another Door Opens and a Judge Is Ready to Break New Ground Again". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Statement of Stephen L. Tober and Doreen D. Dodson on behalf of the Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary of the ABA concerning the Nomination of The Honorable Vanessa L. Bryant to be Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut before the Committee on the Judiciary United States Senate" (PDF) (Press release). American Bar Association. 19 July 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Panel Deals Judge A Setback". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  7. ^ Mahoney, Edmund (19 May 2006). "New Setback for Bryant". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  8. ^ Mahoney, Edmund (28 February 2007). "Opinion Reversed: Judge is Qualified". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  9. ^ Mahoney, Edmund (1 March 2007). "ABA's Flip on Vanessa Bryant". National Review. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  10. ^ Collins, Dave (September 19, 2018). "Judge throws out lawsuit against WWE by ex-pro wrestlers over concussions". The Denver Post. Retrieved October 22, 2018.