A public defender and administrative law judge are President Barack Obama's picks to fill open seats in the District of Columbia Superior Court.
Sherry Trafford of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and Steven Wellner, an administrative law judge in the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, were nominated last night. Trafford and Wellner will go before the U.S. Senate for confirmation proceedings.
The Senate has been kind to the president's Superior Court nominees this year. The three nominees to go before the Senate so far this year sailed through committee. Two of the nominees—Judges Michael O'Keefe and Robert Okun—were confirmed soon after. Superior Court Magistrate Judge William Nooter is waiting for a vote by the full Senate. A committee earlier this month approved his nomination.
Trafford is a staff attorney in the mental health division of the Public Defender Service, a job she's held since 2004. From 1999 to 2004, she worked in the office's civil legal services division. She previously was a Skadden Public Interest Law Fellow and staff attorney at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Trafford clerked for Judge William Bryant of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who died in 2005.
Trafford was nominated to replace Judge Natalia Comb Greene, who sought senior status after retiring earlier this year. Trafford wasn’t immediately reached for comment.
Wellner is the principal administrative law judge for unemployment insurance appeals. Before being appointed as an administrative law judge in 2006, he was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, where he managed the firm's pro bono program. He could not immediately be reached.
Wellner was nominated to replace Judge Kaye Christian, who is now serving as a senior judge. Former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) blocked Obama's previous nominee for that slot, Donna Murphy, a former attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice civil rights division who this year joined the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency as director for community and consumer law.