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JNC Recommends Candidates for DC Court of Appeals Vacancies

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission (“Commission”) has recommended to the President the names of the six attorneys below for his consideration in selecting nominees to fill the judicial vacancies on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals (“D.C. Court of Appeals”) created by the retirements of the Honorable John R. Fisher and the Honorable Kathryn A. Oberly. The President has sixty (60) days to select a nominee to fill these vacancies.

The Commission recommends the following candidates to fill Judge Fisher’s vacancy:

Tovah R. Calderon, Esq., is a Deputy Chief in the Appellate Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she was hired in 2001 through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. Ms. Calderon has spent nearly twenty years at the Department of Justice enforcing federal civil rights laws in the U.S. Courts of Appeals and in the U.S. Supreme Court. Her practice includes criminal and civil enforcement responsibilities and covers all areas of civil rights, including hate crimes, human trafficking, police misconduct, access to justice, employment discrimination, fair housing, voting rights, and disability issues. She has briefed and argued cases at all stages of appellate litigation and has received numerous awards from the Department of Justice for her achievements, including the Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for Providing Legal Advice and the Civil Rights Division’s Walter W. Barnett Memorial Award for Excellence in Advocacy.

As Deputy Chief, Ms. Calderon works closely with the Chief to supervise the Civil Rights Division’s appellate program and manage all aspects of the Appellate Section. She previously served as the Appellate Section’s Special Litigation Counsel and as a line attorney. Ms. Calderon also gained significant policy experience while serving on detail to The White House Domestic Policy Council (2013-2014), the Civil Rights Division’s Policy and Strategy Section (2010-2012), and the Senate Judiciary Committee (2005-2006).

Ms. Calderon received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan and her Juris Doctor degree from the Howard University School of Law. Before joining the Department of Justice, Ms. Calderon was appointed to serve as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, where she originally clerked for the Honorable Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr., and thereafter, for the Honorable Andre M. Davis. She also provided law clerk services to other federal judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Hon. Anthony C. Epstein has been an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (“Superior Court”) since 2008. He currently serves as the Superior Court’s Deputy Presiding Judge of the Civil Division and previously served in the Criminal Division and the Family Court. Judge Epstein is a member of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct for the D.C. Courts. He serves on three Superior Court committees: the Committee on Superior Court Rules, the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, and the Jury Instructions Committee. Judge Epstein served on the D.C. Court of Appeals’ Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law from 1998 to 2008.

After completing a federal clerkship, Judge Epstein worked in the U.S. Department of Justice for three years. Judge Epstein entered private practice in 1981 and represented a variety of clients in a wide range of civil and criminal litigation in state and federal courts around the country and before federal agencies. From 1999 until his appointment to the bench, Judge Epstein was a partner with the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson, and he practiced with Jenner & Block before that. Throughout his career as an attorney, he made a substantial commitment to pro bono work, and he has worked as a judge to improve access to justice.

Judge Epstein received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale College and his Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School. He previously served as a law clerk to the Honorable Charles B. Renfrew of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Vijay Shanker, Esq., is Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He has briefed and argued nearly sixty federal appeals, including four en banc rehearings. Mr. Shanker is currently serving on detail as Senior Litigation Counsel in the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, where he investigates and prosecutes violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related offenses and advises attorneys and leadership on a range of legal issues and litigation matters.

From October 2012 to February 2014, Mr. Shanker served in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, first as Senior Counsel and then as Acting Deputy Chief of Staff and Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General. Mr. Shanker has been awarded the Attorney General’s John Marshall Award, the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, and the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service.

Mr. Shanker received his Bachelor of Arts degree in public policy studies, cum laude, from Duke University. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was named to the Order of the Coif and served as a Notes Editor on the Virginia Law Review. Following law school, Mr. Shanker clerked for the Honorable Chester J. Straub on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The Commission recommends the following candidates to fill Judge Oberly’s vacancy:

Loren L. AliKhan, Esq., is the Solicitor General of the District of Columbia. In this capacity, she oversees administrative, civil, and criminal appeals in the D.C. Court of Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Before joining the D.C. Office of the Attorney General in 2013, Ms. AliKhan focused on Supreme Court and appellate litigation in the Washington office of O’Melveny & Myers LLP. While at O’Melveny, she assisted with the firm’s Supreme Court and Appellate Practice Clinic at Harvard Law School and the legal writing program at Yale Law School.

Ms. AliKhan has also served as a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice and as a Temple Bar Scholar in London, England, where she worked with Lord David Hope of Craighead, then-Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Ms. AliKhan graduated summa cum laude from Bard College at Simon’s Rock and magna cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center. Ms. AliKhan has served as a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas L. Ambro on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Honorable Louis H. Pollak on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Hon. John P. Howard, III, is an Administrative Law Judge with the District of Columbia Office of Administrative Hearings (“OAH”), where he hears claims involving roughly two-dozen District of Columbia government agencies. Prior to joining OAH, Judge Howard served as an Administrative Law Judge with the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights, where he adjudicated discrimination claims in the areas of employment, housing, education, and public accommodations. He has served on several court committees at OAH, including Court Management and Technology.

Judge Howard was previously an associate at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, and he later practiced law independently as a trial lawyer. He was recognized by the American Bar Association as one of the top 40 young lawyers in America in 2017, and he is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Judge Howard is President of the D.C. Association of the Administrative Law Judiciary and an officer of the Washington Bar Association Judicial Council. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Judge Howard earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University and his Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he attended as an Opportunity Scholar. He clerked for the Honorable David C. Simmons of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, and for the Honorable Alexander Williams, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Paul R.Q. Wolfson, Esq., is Co-Chair of the Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Group of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. Mr. Wolfson represents a diverse group of clients at all levels of federal and state court systems, particularly in the U.S. Supreme Court, where he has argued twenty-one times. Before joining WilmerHale, Mr. Wolfson served in the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for “exemplary representation of the United States before the Supreme Court.” He has an extensive pro bono practice on diverse issues ranging from LGBTQ equality to voting rights.

Mr. Wolfson has leadership positions in the American Bar Association, where he chairs the Standing Committee on Amicus Briefs and serves on the Council of the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. He has also served two terms as a member of the D.C. Board on Professional Responsibility. He is a founding member of the LGBT Association of DC, one of the nation’s first LGBTQ bar associations. He also currently serves as president of the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court, the first inn of court dedicated to appellate practice.

Mr. Wolfson graduated from Harvard College, the University of Cambridge, and Yale Law School, after which he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Byron White and Judge Phyllis Kravitch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Please direct any questions to the Commission’s Executive Director at (202) 879-0478 or [email protected].

Members of the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission

Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan, Chair
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
United States Courthouse
333 Constitution Avenue, NW
Chambers 4935-Annex
Washington, DC  20001
(202) 354-3260
[email protected]

Mr. William Lucy
1831 Sudbury Lane, NW
Washington, DC  20012
(301) 520-0576
[email protected]

John J. McAvoy, Esq.
3110 Brandywine Street, NW
Washington, DC  20008
(202) 966-8544
[email protected]

Addy R. Schmitt, Esq.
Miller & Chevalier, Chtd.
900 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202)626-5837
[email protected]

Benjamin F. Wilson, Esq.
Beveridge & Diamond, PC
1350 I St NW, #700
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 789-6023
[email protected]

The Honorable Marie C. Johns
PPC-Leftwich
1400 K Street, NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005-2403
(202) 434-9124
[email protected]

Professor Deborah Epstein
Georgetown University Law Center
600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Suite 334
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 662-9675
[email protected]