June 10, 2016
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 Emily Gunston, Candidate, Associate Judge, D.C. Superior Court
Dear Judge Sullivan and Members of the Commission:
Washington Council of Lawyers is pleased to express its strong support for Emily Gunston for the position of Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Ms. Gunston is Special Litigation Counsel for the Special Litigation Section in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Her leadership in that capacity demonstrates her commitment to public service and to ensuring that justice applies equally to all people in our country. Her profound commitment to fairness in every aspect of the legal process, and her expertise in both civil and criminal law, would serve her well as an Associate Judge of the D.C. Superior Court, and would benefit all litigants who may appear before her.
Washington Council of Lawyers is the public interest bar association for the District of Columbia. Ms. Gunston is a Council member, and shares our mission of expanding access to justice and participation in pro bono and public interest law in the District. Our membership includes lawyers, legal professionals, law students, and others committed to advancing issues important to the public interest community. Washington Council of Lawyers supports strong judicial candidates who have demonstrated their commitment to promoting equal access to justice and serving marginalized populations. Ms. Gunston has demonstrated that commitment throughout her career.
In the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, Ms. Gunston leads large-scale civil police misconduct cases under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, which authorizes the Attorney General to seek equitable relief to remedy a pattern or practice of misconduct by law enforcement agencies. Ms. Gunston has been instrumental in developing investigations, negotiating consent decrees, and working to ensure that police departments appropriately implement remedies. Each of Ms. Gunston’s cases is designed to ensure fairness in the initial stages of the justice system. Her cases have involved high-profile jurisdictions during a period of unprecedented national attention, and include the police departments of Chicago, Cleveland, and New Orleans. She has consistently had to demonstrate the highest ethical standards and respect in her interactions with senior officials at the federal, state and local levels; police union leadership and police officers; and community members, some of whom have suffered great personal losses.
The Department of Justice has consistently recognized her achievements in reforming police departments that have violated the Constitution and federal law. Ms. Gunston has received several awards, including the Department of Justice’s highest award offered to attorneys, the Attorney General’s John Marshall Award. This award recognized her work to reform significant problems in the New Orleans Police Department, including excessive force; illegal stops, searches, and arrests; gender discrimination; and discriminatory policing based on racial, ethnic, and LGBT bias.
Ms. Gunston’s civil work at the Department of Justice was informed by her eight years of service as a public defender. She has significant trial experience, with hundreds of motions argued and over 40 cases tried to verdict. She represented clients charged with the most serious felonies, including homicides. Ms. Gunston is proud of fighting for substantive justice for her clients, and, of equal importance, fighting to ensure that the process recognizes and respects her clients’ humanity and dignity.
Ms. Gunston embodies the goal of equal access to justice, and she is tireless in its pursuit. She has an exceptional range of expertise – in both civil litigation and criminal law; from small misdemeanor cases to large-scale reforms of major police departments; and in dealing with people from all walks of life. She is an ideal candidate for a position as an Associate Judge for the D.C. Superior Court. Washington Council of Lawyers is pleased to recommend her to you without reservation.
Paul S. Lee President
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