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JNC Recommends Candidates for DC Superior Court Vacancy

Friday, December 17, 2021

The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission (“Commission”) has recommended to the President the names of the three attorneys listed below for his consideration in selecting a nominee to fill the judicial vacancy on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (“Superior Court”) created by the retirement of the Honorable Steven N. Berk. The President has sixty (60) days to select a nominee to fill this vacancy.

The Commission recommends the following candidates:

Margaret J. Chriss, Esq., has served as Assistant United States Attorney at the United States Attorney’s Office (“USAO”) for the District of Columbia since 2001. For the past five years, she has served as the Chief of the Special Proceedings Division, which handles post-conviction cases in the Superior Court and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. During her tenure at the USAO, Ms. Chriss has handled misdemeanor and felony trials and appellate matters. She has been the recipient of several Special Achievement Awards and a United States Attorney’s Team Award.

Before joining the USAO, Ms. Chriss was a litigation associate at Nixon Peabody LLP for five years. Her caseload there involved complex insurance defense litigation, employment claims, and First Amendment matters, as well as white-collar cases. 

Ms. Chriss graduated cum laude from Rice University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. After graduation, she worked as a technical editor and writer with an environmental consulting firm. Ms. Chriss later earned her Juris Doctor with distinction from Emory University, College of Law. While in law school, she was an Articles Editor on the Emory Law Journal and a Dean’s Fellow in the Research, Writing and Advocacy Program. Following law school, Ms. Chriss served as a law clerk to the Honorable Judith E. Retchin on the Superior Court.

Kevann A. Gardner, Esq., is an experienced trial attorney who has served indigent clients in felony and misdemeanor cases for over ten years. He currently specializes in litigating murder, attempted murder, and first-degree sexual assault cases as a supervising attorney in the Trial Division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (“PDS”). He also specializes in analyzing forensic information as the senior member of the organization’s Forensic Practice Group.  

Mr. Gardner began working at PDS in 2005 as a criminal defense investigator. Before starting his current supervisory role, Mr. Gardner served as a law clerk, a staff attorney, a hiring committee member, and a client intake representative. He also worked as a public defender at the Legal Aid Society in the Bronx, New York, handling misdemeanor and felony cases. As a faculty instructor, he currently teaches in trial advocacy programs at Harvard Law School and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Mr. Gardner earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Oakwood University and his Juris Doctor from the Cardozo School of Law. During law school, Mr. Gardner worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the New York State Assembly Subcommittee on Election Day Operations and Voter Disenfranchisement, and the Honorable Cheryl E. Chambers in the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court. 

John F. Stanton, Esq., is a Trial Attorney at the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”), Office of Immigration Litigation, Appellate Section, where he frequently appears in federal courts nationwide on behalf of the United States Attorney General. Before joining DOJ in 2014, Mr. Stanton worked at Holland and Knight, LLP, and Howrey, LLP. While in private practice, he litigated cases involving complex civil and criminal matters in state and federal courts, primarily at the appellate level. Further, he has written several articles in law journals and other legal publications on various topics.

Mr. Stanton currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (A.G. Bell). He was a recipient of A.G. Bell’s “Honors of the Association” Award, recognizing, among other things, his extensive pro bono legal work for A.G. Bell and the greater disability community. Mr. Stanton also frequently serves on panels discussing disability access. In 2016, he moved for the admission of a group of deaf and hard of hearing attorneys to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Mr. Stanton received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Dartmouth College and a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the Georgetown University Law Center. Following law school, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Nathaniel Jones on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth 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 St, NW
Washington DC 20008
(202) 966-8544
[email protected]

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

Benjamin F. Wilson, Esq.
Beveridge & Diamond, PC
1900 N. Street, N.W., Suite 100
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 789-6023
[email protected]

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

Vincent H. Cohen, Jr., Esq.
Dechert LLP
1900 K Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20006-1110
(202) 261-3432
[email protected]