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JNC Recommends Three Candidates for Court of Appeals Vacancy

Friday, August 22, 2008

(Washington, DC) - The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission (“Commission”) has forwarded to President George W. Bush the names of three lawyers for his consideration in selecting a nominee to fill a judicial vacancy on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The President has sixty (60) days to select a nominee to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Michael W. Farrell.

The Commission recommends the following three candidates to fill the vacancy:

Corinne A. Beckwith, age 45, has been an attorney in the appellate division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia since 1999. In this capacity, she handles the appeals of indigent criminal defendants who have been convicted of serious offenses. Prior to that, she worked as an appellate attorney at Michigan’s State Appellate Defender Office and taught criminal appellate practice at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. Ms. Beckwith received her law degree in 1992 from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the Michigan Law Review. She received her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois in 1987 and her undergraduate degree from Kalamazoo College in 1985. Prior to law school, Ms. Beckwith worked as a newspaper reporter and also taught journalism and English composition at Central Michigan University. After law school, she served as a law clerk to Judge Richard D. Cudahy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and then for Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Kathryn A. Oberly, age 58, is Americas Vice Chair and General Counsel of Ernst & Young, a position she has held since 1994, and she is also a member of the Firm’s Executive Board. In these roles, Ms. Oberly is responsible for all of the Firm’s legal business and supervises a department of 42 lawyers, 12 auditors, and associated support staff in offices in Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. She also is a standing member of the Firm’s Americas Ethics Oversight Board, which shares responsibility for Ernst & Young’s ethics and compliance function with the Firm’s Quality and Risk Management group. She manages all of the Firm’s litigation, working with outside and in-house counsel, and she is responsible for all of the Firm’s transactional work as well. She and her staff also provide advice and guidance to the Firm’s business leaders on legislative, regulatory and public policy issues, including compliance with SEC and PCAOB requirements, risk management and insurance matters, human resource issues, and a variety of other legal and business questions. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Ms. Oberly had an active appellate practice both at the US Department of Justice and as a partner at the international law firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt. While at the Justice Department, Ms. Oberly served in both the Land & Natural Resources Division and the Office of the Solicitor General, where she briefed and argued appeals in all of the federal courts of appeals and in the Supreme Court of the United States. Ms. Oberly received her B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1971 and 1973, respectively. Upon graduation from law school, she served as a law clerk to Judge Donald P. Lay on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Walter A. Smith Jr., age 61, is the Executive Director of the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. In that position, for the past six years he has managed teams of pro bono lawyers addressing pressing issues facing the National Capital Area, including those involving healthcare, education, voting rights, and the environment. Prior to joining DC Appleseed, he was for two years the Special Deputy Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia. Most of Mr. Smith’s legal career was spent as a partner at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, where he specialized in appellate litigation.

He was for four years the fulltime director of that firm’s pro bono practice. Before joining Hogan & Hartson, he served for four years as a Lieutenant in the US Navy JAG Corps. Mr. Smith has argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court of the United States and the other appellate courts in the District of Columbia. In May 2008 he was named by The Legal Times as one of the “90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Past 30 Years.” He received his Masters in Law from The George Washington Law Center in 1974, his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1971, and his B.A. from the University of Oklahoma in 1968. He served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Charles Clark on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.