Catharine Easterly, an attorney with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia since 2003, was nominated this afternoon to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. If confirmed, she will fill the seat vacated in May by retired Judge Noël Kramer.
As an attorney in the public defender service's Special Litigation Division, Easterly's work is focused on litigating complex criminal justice issues in District of Columbia Superior Court. She also handles civil cases, habeas petitions and appeals in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
In a statement released late this afternoon by the White House, President Barack Obama said, “Catherine Easterly has proved herself to be not only a first-rate legal mind but a faithful public servant. It is with full confidence in her ability, integrity, and independence that I nominate her to the bench.”
A public defender service representative could not immediately be reached this afternoon for comment.
Before joining the public defender office in Washington, Easterly spent just over a year in private practice in New York as an associate at Stillman & Friedman, now Stillman, Friedman & Schechtman, handling both white-collar criminal defense cases and civil litigation. Firm founding member Charles Stillman said this afternoon that Easterly had a “star quality.”
Recalling a case where the firm was representing the Metropolitan Opera in a complex dispute with a union, he said she brought “a great ability to reason and deal with difficult situations.”
Previously, Easterly was an attorney for three-and-a-half years at the Office of the Appellate Defender, a nonprofit that defends indigent defendants in criminal cases. Attorney-in-Charge Richard Greenberg said the office still uses a videotape of Easterly arguing before the New York Court of Appeals to train young attorneys.
“She’s really smart, she writes incredibly well, she has great analytical abilities, [and] her oral advocacy skills were fantastic,” Greenberg said. “She has no agenda, no axe to grind with anybody. I think she’ll be a wonderful judge.”
Easterly earned her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and her bachelor’s degree from Yale College.