A small firm attorney, a legal services lawyer and a public defender are vying for a slot on the District of Columbia Superior Court.
The D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission announced yesterday it was recommending Steven Berk, Sean Staples and Sherry Trafford as candidates to replace retiring Judge Natalia Combs Greene. The commission sent the three names to the White House.
The White House has 60 days to choose a nominee from the recommended names or from the list of other lawyers the commission earlier recommended for still-pending vacancies.
Berk is the founder of Berk Law, where he focuses on representing consumers in consumer protection cases and whistleblowers in False Claims Act cases. He formerly was a partner at Washington firms including Chavez & Gertler, Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca and Jenner & Block. He also spent five years as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington and a staff attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He was not immediately available for comment.
Staples is the guardian ad litem project director at the Children's Law Center. He manages the attorneys and pro bono counsel who represent children and caregivers. He was previously a clinical professor in the criminal division of the D.C. Law Students in Court Program, an assistant public defender in Fairfax, Va., and had a solo practice. He could not immediately be reached.
Trafford is a staff attorney in the mental health division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, representing clients in mental health detention and commitment cases and post-trial proceedings. She previously worked as a staff attorney in the defender office's civil legal services division, where she worked on landlord and tenant, custody, abuse and neglect, and public benefits cases. She was not immediately available for comment.
The seven-member nomination commission is chaired by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan. The other members are William Lucy, a vice president of the AFL-CIO; Natalie Ludaway of Leftwich & Ludaway; Dickstein Shapiro's Woody Peterson; Venable's Karl Racine; the Rev. Morris Shearin; and Grace Speights of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
Several senior judges in the D.C. courts are up for review. The D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure announced this week that D.C. Court of Appeals Senior Judges Frank Nebeker and Inez Smith Reid and Superior Court Judge Cheryl Long have asked to be reappointed.
The commission is taking public comments on the three judges through November 8.