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JNC Recommends Candidates for DC Superior Court Vacancy

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission (Commission) has recommended to the President the three individuals listed below for his consideration in selecting a nominee to fill the judicial vacancy on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia created by the retirement of the Honorable Russell F. Canan.  The President has sixty (60) days to select a nominee to fill this vacancy.  

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

Sheila Berman, Esq. has served as both Senior Advisor on Law & Policy for the Warnath Group, LLC, and Deputy Director of the NEXUS Institute since 2012.  Her work focuses on global human trafficking. She has drafted anti-human trafficking legislation and has trained police, immigration officers, prosecutors, and judges on human trafficking issues in over a dozen countries, including Burma, Haiti, Malaysia, and Mongolia. From 2000 to 2006, Ms. Berman was a federal prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section, where she handled criminal civil rights cases involving hate crimes, human trafficking, and police brutality. She has also served as a juvenile criminal prosecutor for the District of Columbia, where her trials included cases involving murder, armed assault, sexual abuse, robbery, and drug distribution.  From 2006 to 2012, Ms. Berman had a solo practice in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, where she handled a variety of matters, including civil plaintiff litigation, criminal defense, family law, and small business formation. Ms. Berman received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law.  

Armando O. Bonilla, Esq. has served in the United States Department of Justice for twenty-three years as a civil litigator, criminal prosecutor, appellate advocate, and Associate Deputy Attorney General.  He currently serves as Associate General Counsel for the United States Marshals Service.  Mr. Bonilla joined the Department of Justice in 1994 through the Attorney General’s Honors Program.  Prior to joining the United States Marshals Service, Mr. Bonilla served in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity and Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Sections, and the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch.  During his tenure with the Department of Justice, Mr. Bonilla has litigated over one-hundred civil cases, investigated and prosecuted over fifty criminal cases, and argued over fifty federal appeals. Mr. Bonilla received his Bachelor of Arts degree from West Virginia University and his Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude, from Seton Hall University School of Law, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Constitutional Law Journal. Mr. Bonilla began his legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Garrett E. Brown, Jr., of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.  

Melissa Felder Zappala, Esq. is a partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, where she focuses on complex commercial litigation. Ms. Zappala joined Boies Schiller in 2005, where she has remained, with the exception of a judicial clerkship from 2007 to 2008. Ms. Zappala’s cases include securities, antitrust, and class actions in both federal and state courts. She was recognized by the National Law Journal in 2015 as one of the District of Columbia area’s top 40 lawyers under 40, and she has been recognized as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and has led several pro bono matters throughout her career. Ms. Zappala received her Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Yale University in 2002 and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. She also received a Harry S. Truman Scholarship in 2001 for her commitment to public service. Ms. Zappala earned her law degree, magna cum laude, from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2005, where she was a Public Interest Law Scholar. Ms. Zappala has previously served as a law clerk to the Honorable Henry H. Kennedy of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  

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]

Ronald S. Flagg, Esq.
Legal Services Corporation
3333 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 295-1620
[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
[email protected]

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

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