Our Fireside Chats Continue: U.S. District Court Judge Theodore D. Chuang
The FBA Maryland Chapter continued its fireside chat series by welcoming U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang on April 13, 2023. Judge Chuang joined the bench in 2014. Public service is part of his fabric. His parents immigrated to the United States seeking political freedom, and they strove to give back. This played a significant role in Judge Chuang serving in all three branches of federal government—roles in the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, as investigative counsel in the House of Representatives, and as a law clerk and now judge. The judge also gave great practice tips, such as honing written arguments, seeking reconsideration of adverse decisions, and preparing for oral argument. If you’re tinkering with font size and margins, you’ve written too much. If a judge offers Monday or Friday as a deadline, choose Friday and enjoy your weekend. Having grown up in Massachusetts, Judge Chuang is a longtime Boston sports fan (though he noted that the Yankees are mutual rivals of the Orioles). And he shared how his clerkship experience informed how he approaches being a judge. That experience also informs how he selects and builds relationships with his own law clerks. We thank Judge Chuang for the great chat.
A Fireside Chat with U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher
On March 23, 2023, the Maryland Chapter hosted a virtual fireside chat with U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher. The chat covered a variety of topics. After graduating from law school, Judge Gallagher clerked, worked at a large law firm, became a federal prosecutor, and opened her own small firm. She did not always set out to become a lawyer. But it ended up being the perfect fit. Plus, her path gave her a solid of mix of criminal and civil experience that she now brings to the bench. Judge Gallagher discussed her practice preferences. Written submissions are very critically important for dispositive motions. For discovery disputes, she encourages litigants to meet in person or speak with each other. And she stressed ways to streamline proceedings, like flagging objections in advance, outside the presence of the jury, or streamlining the number of filings when briefing dispositive motions. We also learned more about Judge Gallagher the person: her close relationship with her law clerks, the judges she tries to emulate, and her favorite Orioles players. We thank Judge Gallagher for her time and the wonderful chat.
A Conversation with a Trailblazer: Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. (Ret.)
On February 28, 2023, FBA Maryland Chapter hosted A Conversation with a Trailblazer with United States District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. (Ret.). As part of our chapter's celebration of Black History Month, Nichole' C. Gatewood, the Immediate Past President of the Maryland Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, spoke with Judge Williams about his career journey. Judge Williams has held a multitude of positions including private practitioner, state’s attorney, federal judge, and founder and director of a social justice policy institute.
Throughout his career, Judge Williams has never backed down from an obstacle or been accepting of a roadblock. From being told that he was not college material, to breaking down barriers to become the first Black person elected State's Attorney for Prince George's County, MD, and the impact of this historic win simultaneously making him the first Black person to hold countywide office, he has never accepted the label of being non-qualified. Instead of allowing small-minded perspectives to deter the accomplishment of his goals, he used the naysaying to propel him forward. Taking the audience along his journey, Judge Williams imparted valuable life lessons, career advice, and civic wisdom.
Emphasizing the importance of mentorship and sponsorship, Judge Williams explained the vital role that having a network of supporters plays in breaking through barriers. He told the audience about his tough road to judicial confirmation and the pivotal role that having and nurturing relationships played in his confirmation to the federal court. For nearly 20 years, he proudly served on the Maryland federal court with distinction before retiring. After sharing some of his most memorable cases, Judge Williams stressed the value of building a strong reputation and laying a sound body of work as a foundation for judicial consideration. A nurturer of relationships, Judge Williams noted some of the highly respected jurists and elected officials that he has mentored and supported over the years.
Growing up in a strong and loving family, Judge Williams was equipped to thrive and not just survive. After retiring from the bench in continuation of his life’s mission of giving back, he took on the role of change agent and founded The Judge Alex Williams Jr. Center for Education, Justice, and Ethics. In this capacity, he has come full circle and uses his life and career experiences to champion policy development and effectuates change. And as if that were not enough, he is still teaching at his alma mater Howard University, in the law school and School of Divinity. Judge Williams personifies the definition of a trailblazer, and we share more about his path and purpose in his upcoming book, “Non-Qualified.”
Introduction to Federal Practice Program Brings New Lawyers Together with Judges
The Maryland Chapter held its annual “Introduction to the Federal Practice” program on February 24, 2023 at the federal courthouse in Greenbelt. About 80 lawyers registered for the program held in the Court’s ceremonial courtroom. After remarks by Judge Theodore D. Chuang and Chapter President Bob Brennen, and a primer on the courthouse from Chief Deputy Clerk David E. Ciambruschini, attendees received pointers on pleading, evidence, civil discovery and motions practice and criminal practice from several distinguished members of the bench and bar. In addition, Deena Hausner, Managing Attorney for the House of Ruth’s Marjorie Cook Foundation Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, made a presentation regarding the various opportunities through which members of the federal bar can provide pro bono assistance to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The program concluded with the Hon. Lydia K. Griggsby presiding over a swearing in ceremony for those attendees who were not already members of the Court’s bar, followed by a reception.
Fireside Chat Held with Peter M. Nothstein, Resident Legal Advisor with the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar
On January 18, 2023, in the latest installment of our “Fireside Chat” series Chapter President Bob Brennen sat down with fellow Chapter Board member Peter Nothstein to talk about Peter’s experiences as the Resident Legal Advisor assigned to the United States Embassy in Doha, Qatar. Peter is a Maryland native and graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law. In addition to clerking for the Hon. Marvin J. Garbis (ret.) and four years in private practice with firms in Baltimore and Washington D.C. Peter has worked several years as a prosecutor with the United States Attorney’s Office in Baltimore. Since 2017 he has been prosecuting cases with the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. In December 2021 Peter accepted an assignment through the Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (“OPDAT) to the U.S. Department to serve as the Resident Legal Advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar, where he currently resides with his wife and two-year-old son. As Resident Legal Advisor Peter’s role is to work with representatives of Qatar’s law enforcement and justice sector institutions to enable those institutions and their personnel to more effectively combat terrorism, organized crime, corruption, financial crimes and other types of crime, and simultaneously enable them to more effectively cooperate regionally and with the United States in combating such crime.
Peter described how he came to accept the assignment in Qatar, Qatar’s legal system and how it differs from ours in the U.S., and some of the challenges he has faced in establishing relationships with Qatar’s law enforcement community. He also described life in Doha (including the weather--it’s hot!), the diverse population of ex-pats and migrants living and working there, and the build up to, experience of, and aftermath of the recent World Cup championship held there. It was a fascinating discussion. We thank Peter for logging in and sharing his evening with our afternoon (with the 8-hour time difference) and for his service to our country, congratulate him on upcoming arrival of his second child, and look forward to welcoming him back to the States when his assignment concludes.
Another Successful Fireside Chat Held on December 16th: United States Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby
The FBA Maryland Chapter’s Fireside Chat series welcomed United States District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby on Friday, December 16, 2022. Judge Griggsby joined the bench after a career in all three branches of federal government, including several years as a judge on the United States Court of Federal Claims, as counsel for different Senate committees, and in multiple roles for the Department of Justice. These extraordinary experiences have contributed to how Judge Griggsby views the law today. Judge Griggsby’s grandmother and mother were strong influences throughout her life. She passes on that influence by mentoring young women in Baltimore (particularly those interested in the arts), and she encourages young people everywhere to consider careers in the law. For others interested in eventually joining the bench, Judge Griggsby recommended that newer lawyers try different experiences and embrace new challenges. This helped Judge Griggsby her own understanding of the law. In addition, Judge Griggsby shared her practice preferences, including her standing order for motions in civil cases, and her expectations for litigators in criminal cases. Above all, Judge Griggsby values civility among the litigants, and she takes great pains to make sure everyone is heard. Finally, Judge Griggsby shared her love of gardening, including the great success that she’s had growing pepper plants. During the pandemic, she learned to play chess. We welcome Judge Griggsby to the bench and thank her for the wonderful chat.
Fireside Chat Held with United States Judge Julie Rubin on October 24th
On Monday, October 24, 2022, the FBA Maryland Chapter’s Fireside Chat series featured United States District Judge Julie Rubin. Judge Rubin joined the federal bench after having previously served as an associate judge on the Baltimore City Circuit Court. Before that, she was a trial lawyer in private practice in Baltimore. Judge Rubin never let her accomplishments go to her head. She emphasized the importance of never taking herself too seriously. Lawyers could be brilliant and hardworking, while also being down to earth and personable. Those are traits she noticeably displayed throughout her chat. Judge Rubin also discussed the value of mentorship. She shared the insight other judges gave her when she first took the bench. Some lawyers may argue forcefully and passionately, but she is guided by the law and facts. She found it equally important to help the next generation of lawyers. Maryland Chapter member Jamar Brown, who led the discussion, provided a good example. Jamar had his first jury trial before Judge Rubin in the Baltimore City Circuit Court. Jamar sought Judge Rubin’s feedback after that trial, and she has been a close mentor ever since. Along those same lines, Judge Rubin shared with the audience her practice preferences and tips. Finally, Judge Rubin gave a window into her life outside the law. She is an avid runner. Running, she admitted, was both a passion and necessity—because her other passion is food. It was a pleasure to hear from Judge Rubin, and she is a welcomed addition to the bench.
Fireside Chat Held with United States Magistrate Judge Quereshi on September 21st
In the latest installment of the Maryland Chapter’s Fireside Chat series, we had the great pleasure of speaking recently with United States Magistrate Judge Ajmel Quereshi. Judge Quereshi spoke about his background as a public interest lawyer, providing insight into his time as a Skadden Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, Director of the Howard University School of Law Civil Rights Clinic, a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School, and a Rappaport Fellow with Boston College Law School. These experiences, Judge Quereshi observed, provided a foundation for his career in public service, as well as an opportunity to advocate for underserved communities. Judge Quereshi followed these experiences by working as staff counsel at the ACLU’s National Prison Project, where he advocated for a population he described as often outside our public sphere of service. Judge Quereshi then served the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where he served as Senior Counsel, until joining the Court. Judge Quereshi described how these opportunities allowed him to broaden his advocacy skills, while engaging with clients on issues of both individual and systemic justice.
Judge Quereshi spoke with candor, humility, and frankness. He described how his parents and childhood community instilled in him a strong work ethic and how he has carried that forward. In every community in which Judge Quereshi has lived and worked, he described how he has tried to dedicate himself to being a voice for positive change. Mentors have been extremely significant in Judge Quereshi’s career, from judges with whom he worked to colleagues and senior lawyers. As Judge Quereshi’s career has developed, he in turn has sought to provide guidance and mentoring to other lawyers. He described how he views our legal system as a critical tool for achieving our ideal of a just and fair society. While Judge Quereshi modestly deferred any discussion of his intended legacy, the qualities he brings to the bench provide the background, temperament, and skills needed for a career that will enrich our Court and serve litigants with impartiality, wisdom, and justice.
We welcome Judge Quereshi to the bench and look forward to his years of service to come.