February 13, 2015
Via Email and US Mail
The Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan
Chair, Judicial Nomination Commission
515 5th Street NW, Suite 235
Washington, DC 20001
RE: Letter of Recommendation for Michael Zoeller, Candidate, Associate Judge, D.C. Superior Court
Dear Judge Sullivan and Members of the Commission:
The Washington Council of Lawyers (WCL) enthusiastically renews its support of Michael Zoeller’s application to become an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. We continue to strongly believe that Mr. Zoeller’s demonstrated commitment to pro bono advocacy, serving the indigent, promoting access to justice to all citizens, and public service make him an ideal candidate.
WCL is a voluntary bar association located in the District of Columbia. Our mission is to promote the practice of pro bono and public interest law in the city, and our membership includes lawyers, legal professionals, law students, and others committed to advancing issues important to the public interest community. WCL will offer its support for a judicial candidate when that candidate has a strong personal history of service the underserved and promoting access to justice.
WCL strongly supports Mr. Zoeller’s candidacy because of his consistent and dedicated commitment to serving those who are unable to afford legal representation. Mr. Zoeller began his career at Crowell and Moring LLP, where he dedicated a significant amount of his time and energy to representing pro bono clients. For each of his six years at Crowell & Moring, Mr. Zoeller devoted more than 175 hours per year (and in one year more than 400 hours) to his pro bono clients, who ranged from homeless individuals, to immigrants, to persons living with AIDS. Mr. Zoeller also served on the firm’s Public Service Committee where his input and insights were invaluable to development of the firm’s policies and programs to further pro bono efforts. Crowell & Moring twice nominated Mr. Zoeller for the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Award, noting that “it is not only the quantity of his pro bono work that merits recognition, but also the quality and consistency of his commitment that is particularly laudatory.”
Mr. Zoeller further demonstrated his commitment to supporting the provision of legal services to the indigent through his next position as Staff Attorney in the Pro Se Unit of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In this position, Mr. Zoeller assisted judges and other court personnel with more than 800 civil actions filed each year by indigent persons unrepresented by counsel.
Returning to private practice in 2003, Mr. Zoeller continued his commitment to pro bono work, representing a plaintiff in a civil rights action through the U.S. District Court’s Civil Pro Bono Panel. In 2005, Mr. Zoeller moved to his current position at the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Enforcement Department where he has continued his pro bono service including by taking on a landlord tenant matter, participating several times in the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program’s Advice & Referral Clinic, and accepting emergency referrals from Legal Counsel for the Elderly.
Mr. Zoeller served as a member of WCL’s Board of Directors in the mid–1990s, was active on WCL’s Issues Committee, and headed the annual WCL endorsement process for D.C. Bar Candidates for several years. Even after Mr. Zoeller stepped down from the WCL Board of Directors, he has remained an active member of WCL. Mr. Zoeller has been active in bar activities that have a public service aspect. He has been an elected member of the D.C. Bar Section on Courts, Lawyers, and Administration of Justice for five years, and co-chaired the section for two years. Mr. Zoeller has served as a Board member of the D.C. Indigent Civil Litigation Fund, which reimburses appointed counsel in the District Court’s Civil Pro Bono panel.
WCL believes that our judges must be committed to equal access to justice and to the provision of legal services to low-income and poor individuals in our community. Mr. Zoeller’s consistent, long-standing dedication to provision of civil legal services to the indigent and to public service is evident through his many years of participation in pro bono work, his position in the Pro Se unit of the District Court, and his public service at the Department of Justice. Thus, WCL heartily supports Mr. Zoeller’s candidacy for judgeship.
Paul S. Lee
Ronald Flagg, Esq. (via email, firstname.lastname@example.org)
William Lucy (via email, Williamlucy1@comcast.net)
Natalie O. Ludaway, Esq. (via email, NOLudawa@leftwichlaw.com)
Woody N. Peterson, Esq. (via email, email@example.com)
Rev. Morris L. Shearin, Sr. (via email, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Grace E. Speights, Esq. (via email, email@example.com)