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Letter of Support for Murad Hussain, Candidate for Appointment to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (October 4, 2023)

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Mr. Jon S. Bouker
Co-Chair, Norton Federal Law Enforcement Nominating Commission

RE:  Letter of Support for Murad Hussain, Candidate for Appointment to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Dear Mr. Bouker:

Washington Council of Lawyers is very pleased to submit this letter in support of Murad Hussain’s candidacy for a judgeship on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Mr. Hussain’s distinguished legal career has been marked by his commitment to ensuring equal access to justice through pro bono work, through outreach to the community, and through improving the legal profession. He is a skilled trial attorney, who has practiced both civil and criminal law in a variety of settings, which would allow him to bring to the bench a wealth of experience in both areas. His deep and abiding commitment to serving the public and to increasing access to justice, combined with his impressive qualifications, have led us to endorse his candidacy with enthusiasm.

Washington Council of Lawyers is the public interest bar association of the District of Columbia. Our large and diverse membership includes a broad range of lawyers, legal professionals, law students, and others committed to advancing issues important to the public interest legal community. We base our endorsements on a candidate’s demonstrated commitment to pro bono and public interest law issues, as well as the candidate’s actual personal experience in promoting equal access to justice. We wish to emphasize that, in considering whether to endorse a candidate for judicial office, the Council seeks to ensure that the candidate is not only committed to the ideals of pro bono and public interest law, but has in fact been personally involved, in a meaningful way, in promoting equal access to justice.

Mr. Hussain graduated from Yale Law School in 2007, where he first demonstrated what would be his longstanding commitment to public interest and civil rights law. Disturbed by the violation of the rights of Muslims following the attacks of September 11, at Yale he joined the Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic’s National Litigation Project and worked on a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of a group of American Muslim families that were seized at the border when they attempted to return from a conference on Islamic issues in Canada.

That lawsuit was successful, and Mr. Hussain subsequently published an article about it in the Yale Law Journal. In addition, while in law school he received the Yale President’s Public Service Fellowship, which allowed him to spend a summer at the Jerome N. Franks Legal Services Organization, where he worked on eviction cases, habeas cases, and a successful religious freedom case for a Muslim inmate.

Mr. Hussain continued his commitment to pro bono work when he joined Arnold & Porter after graduating from law school. He began with a brief sojourn at the firm’s Los Angeles office (his wife had a judicial clerkship in California) where he worked on an Establishment Clause case that successfully challenged religious proselytizing in the U.S. Post office. In 2009, he moved to DC to serve as a clerk for Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the DC federal court.  Following that clerkship, he rejoined Arnold & Porter, this time in its Washington, DC office.

At Arnold & Porter, Mr. Hussain has served as a leader in pro bono, both as a member of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee and as a very active pro bono lawyer. A significant part of his pro bono work has been representing indigent persons accused of crimes. That work includes a murder trial and representing another client in a murder case that was resolved before trial. In addition, he has worked on a broad array of civil pro bono cases, including, among others, counseling a Muslim client about a State Department investigation of his naturalization, suing the State Department for its refusal to acknowledge birthright citizenship for persons born in American Samoa, challenging a federal prison’s refusal to allow a death row inmate’s wife to visit him, litigating a decision by a municipal government that refused to allow the construction of a mosque, suing to ensure that a Muslim inmate on death row could have his Iman with him at his execution, and bringing a series of employment discrimination cases, including a Title VII case for a plaintiff who was fired because he is a Muslim. Mr. Hussain also argued before the D.C. Circuit in a case that challenged the government’s power to use a search warrant to obtain DNA from a non-suspect crime victim.  He has devoted literally thousands of hours to pro bono.

As the forgoing demonstrates, although Mr. Hussain’s pro bono work spans a broad array of issues and clients, including both civil and criminal cases, he has worked particularly hard to address the rampant discrimination against Muslims. In this regard he has played a key role in developing and expanding his firm’s work in this area by working with Muslim Advocates to develop a legal partnership with Arnold & Porter. In addition to working on actual cases, he has recruited other Arnold & Porter attorneys to work with Muslim Advocates on public education issues and to assist with both litigation and legislative efforts opposing President Trump’s religiously based travel ban. Largely because of his efforts, the firm received an award from Muslim Advocates.

On the commercial side, Mr. Hussain is a partner in Arnold & Porter’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice Group. In that regard, he represents clients at all stages of internal investigations, criminal prosecutions, and civil enforcement litigation, including at criminal trials.  We suspect few candidates can offer his level of experience on both the criminal and civil sides of the law.

As an organization that seeks justice for diverse groups of persons, including those who are so often marginalized in our society, the Council recognizes the importance of commitment not only to direct legal representation, but also to the community at large. Mr. Hussain has demonstrated that commitment through his involvement with organizations like Muslim Advocates and also through his membership in and involvement with voluntary bar associations like the Asian Pacific Bar Association of the Greater Washington DC Area, the South Asian Bar Association of Washington, DC, and the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference. He is also committed to the profession, serving since 2021 as an Adjunct Professor of Law (teaching trial practice) at Georgetown University Law Center. He also serves with affinity groups for diverse attorneys at his firm, as well as doing outreach to area law students, and is an active public speaker.

The Council recognizes that a candidate for judicial office needs to offer more than impressive credentials and experience. Character counts. In addition to his demonstrated commitment to pro bono work, Mr. Hussain brings to the table the strong endorsement of senior members of Arnold & Porter’s pro bono team, based not only on his pro bono work but also on his outstanding personal qualities, including his interpersonal skills and a temperament that they believe would gain him the respect of both the litigants and the lawyers who would appear before him.

In sum, Mr. Hussain combines a deep level of experience as a litigator in both civil and criminal matters, a demonstrated commitment to working for equal justice for people for whom life has been difficult and unfair – the kinds of litigants he would often see as a judge – and the personal qualities we look for on the bench. Accordingly, Washington Council of Lawyers is pleased enthusiastically to endorse his candidacy to be a judge on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Respectfully submitted,

Deborah Cuevas Hill
Washington Council of Lawyers

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