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Three Persons Recommended for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Vacancy Created by the Retirement of Judge Joan Zeldon

Wednesday, January 25, 2012
The President has sixty (60) days to select a nominee to fill the vacancy created by her retirement.

The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission (“Commission”) has forwarded to President Barack Obama the names of three lawyers for his consideration in selecting a nominee to fill a judicial vacancy on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The President has sixty (60) days to select a nominee to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Joan Zeldon. The Commission recommends the following candidates to fill this vacancy:

Maria-Claudia Theresa Christina Amato is the General Counsel for the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, a position she has held since 2006. Ms. Amato practiced in the local private sector from 1987 until 1992. From 1992 to 2006, she worked in the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, serving as an Assistant Attorney General, Section Chief for the Civil Rights Section, and Senior Litigator in the Equity Division. In the Attorney General’s office, Ms. Amato defended the government in a broad spectrum of litigation including habeas corpus petitions, personal injury, negligent supervision, assault, medical malpractice, and constitutional rights. She also has litigated in civil rights class actions and institutional reform involving essential services for inmates and special needs populations in need of government services and programs. As General Counsel for the Department of Corrections, Ms. Amato has further diversified her experience to include criminal law, legislative and regulatory matters, and contract and transactional issues. Ms. Amato was born in Cairo, Egypt and immigrated to the United States as a child. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Seton Hall University, and earned her law degree from the American University Washington College of Law.

Rainey Ransom Brandt currently serves as Special Counsel to the Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, having previously served as Special Counsel to the two most recent former chief judges of that Court. She also serves as ombudsman to the justice community for prisoner and correctional issues. During her tenure with the Court, Ms. Brandt has served on various committees addressing prisoner custody designation, judicial training, and improvements for court efficiency. Prior to the her work with the Court, Ms. Brandt taught as a full-time professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Society, at American University, where she remains an Adjunct Associate Professor teaching courses on the prison system and capital punishment. Ms. Brandt received the university’s Outstanding Adjunct Professor Award in 2006 and again in 2009. In May 2010, she received the Council for Court Excellence Justice Potter Stewart Award. Ms. Brandt has a Bachelor of Arts degree in general studies, a Master of Science degree in justice, and a Doctorate of Philosophy from American University. She earned her law degree from the Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America. Following law school, Ms. Brandt clerked for Superior Court Judges Michael L. Rankin and Stephanie Duncan-Peters.

Jason D. Tulley is Special Counsel to the Director of the Public Defender Service of the District of Columbia. As Special Counsel, he heads the agency’s Forensic Practice Group, which focuses on litigation of science issues, from DNA to fingerprints and the psychology of eyewitness identification. He is also the Vice-Chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Forensic Science Committee, working on a variety of national issues related to scientifically sound forensic practices and education for the defense bar in all forensic disciplines. Mr. Tulley joined the Public Defender Service in 2003 as a staff attorney in the Trial Division and in 2007 was promoted to supervisor. During his tenure, he has represented indigent criminal defendants in a wide range of major felony cases. From 2000 to 2003, Mr. Tulley was a Deputy Capital Defender for the Capital Defender Office in New York City, where he represented indigent defendants in capital cases. From 1996 to 2000, he worked as an associate for Bennett & Nathans, LLP, in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Tulley has a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors in Sociology from State University of New York at Binghamton and earned his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. Following law school, Mr. Tulley served as a law clerk for the Honorable Theodore G. Bloom of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

Questions concerning the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission should be directed to the Executive Director at (202) 879-0478 or via email at [email protected].