This just in (1/4/2022) from the Office of Senator Sanders:
BURLINGTON, Vt., Jan. 4 – U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) today announced the seven members of the Vermont Judicial Nomination Advisory Panel, formed to help the Senators review applications submitted for Vermont’s upcoming judicial vacancy. That vacancy is created by the impending retirement of U.S. District Court Chief Judge Geoffrey Crawford.
The panel continues a tradition started by former Senators Robert Stafford (R-Vt.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). It consists of seven members chosen by Senator Sanders, Senator Welch, the Vermont Bar Association, and with input from Representative Becca Balint (D-Vt.). The Advisory Panel will review the submitted applications, interview candidates, and make recommendations to Senators Sanders and Welch. The Senators will then select candidates from among the panel’s recommendations to submit to President Joe Biden for his final decision.
Similar panels helped Senators Leahy and Sanders recommend Judge Christina Reiss and Chief Judge Crawford to President Barack Obama in 2010 and 2014, respectively. As in those processes, Bob Paolini, Executive Director of the Vermont Bar Association, is coordinating the work of the advisory panel.
Below are biographies of the seven members of the Advisory Panel.
Paul Burns is executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, a position he’s held since 2001. VPIRG is Vermont’s largest nonprofit, consumer and environmental advocacy organization. At VPIRG, Paul has helped to pass landmark policies related to climate change, environmental protection, and democracy. He earned his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Oswego and his law degree from the Syracuse University College of Law.
Xusana Davis is an attorney formally trained and certified in Alternative Dispute Resolution. With deep passion for individual liberties and equity-in-all-policies, she has worked for organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the HIV Law Project, and local and state governments in New York City and Vermont. She currently serves as the State of Vermont Executive Director of Racial Equity. She holds a Juris Doctor with a concentration in International Human Rights Law, and in 2010 she earned the Rev. J. Franklin Ewing, S.J. Award for writing on the relationship between global human rights violations and the proliferation of HIV/AIDS. Xusana has been awarded the Rising Stars Under 40 award by Vermont Business Magazine and the 40 Under 40 Award by Urban Professionals Network. She is a Spanish-fluent Latina who approaches public policy from a multicultural perspective.
Barbara Prine has been a staff attorney at Vermont Legal Aid since 1993. She attended University of Vermont, and received her law school degree from Northeastern University School of Law. She was awarded a two-year Skadden Arps Fellowship to represent domestic violence and child abuse victims. After the fellowship she was hired by Vermont Legal Aid. Through individual and systemic work she has focused on representing victims of abuse, asserting employment and civil rights, and guaranteeing timely access to government benefits for low income people and people with disabilities.
Lisa Shelkrot is a partner at the law firm of Langrock Sperry & Wool, with her office in Burlington, Vermont. She is an experienced trial lawyer who focuses on complex civil and criminal litigation. She represents corporate and individual clients in state and federal courts and frequently collaborates with national law firms and boutique litigators. While she has been fortunate to have worked in many varied areas of the law, she has particular experience in construction disputes, frauds, civil rights, land use, commercial litigation, Title 9 investigations, and the defense of serious crimes. Lisa is a zealous courtroom advocate and has tried dozens of criminal and civil jury cases to verdict and conducted many more bench trials and evidentiary hearings. Lisa joined Langrock Sperry & Wool in 1995 after three years as a public defender at the Neighborhood Defense Service of Harlem in New York City. She continues to represent indigent criminal defendants in federal court as a member of the Criminal Justice Act Panel, and she manages the CJA Panel as the District of Vermont’s Criminal Justice Act Panel Representative. Lisa became a partner in 2000 and has served on the firm’s management committee since 2007. She is co-author of the Vermont chapter of Fifty State Construction Lien and Bond Law 2d. (Aspen Publishing 2000). She graduated with high honors from Yale College and Harvard Law School, and she clerked for the Hon. Stephanie K. Seymour of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
David F. Silver is a Partner in the Bennington, Vermont law firm of Barr Sternberg Moss Silver & Munson, P.C. His law practice concentrates on criminal defense in the state and federal courts and Plaintiff’s personal injury litigation. He is Board Certified in Criminal Trial Advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. After graduating from law school in 1983, he became a public defender with The Legal Aid Society of New York in the Bronx office before moving on to become a Federal Defender in 1997. David was a trial attorney for the Federal Defender Division, Southern District of New York, of the Legal Aid Society of the City of New York from 1997-1990. After moving to Vermont with his family in 1990, David served as a Bennington County Public Defender for two years. He became a partner at Barr Sternberg in 1992. He has represented clients in Federal District Court in Vermont in both civil and criminal matters since 1992. He has been a CJA panel member for the past 30 years. He is a long-time director of the Vermont Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; a member of the Board of Governors of the Vermont Association of Justice, and a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Vermont Bar Association (VBA). David served as an elected member of the state Judicial Nominating Board for two terms from 2016-2022. David was selected by the VBA to be a member of the federal Judicial Nominating Commissions in 2009 and 2014. David was the founding President of the Bennington Meals-on-Wheels-Program and has been a member of the Board of Directors for Shires Housing (an affordable housing non-profit) for the past 25 years.
Shap Smith is managing partner at Dinse, P.C. Shap has an active litigation practice, appearing in both state and federal courts in Vermont. From 2003-2016, Shap served in the Vermont House of Representatives and as Speaker of the House from 2009-2016. Shap currently lives in Morristown, Vermont with his wife Melissa, a family practice doctor, and their two college age children, Eli and Mia. Shap grew up in Vermont and attended the University of Vermont where he obtained his B.A in 1987. He graduated from the Maurer School of Law, Indiana University-Bloomington in 1993. Shap serves on the boards of the University of Vermont and Spectrum Youth Services.
Eleanor (Ella) Spottswood has served as the Chair of the Vermont Judicial Nominating Board since 2019. During her tenure, she has led the Board through selection procedures to fill State Superior and Supreme Court vacancies, as well as facilitating anti-bias training retreats and a re-examination of Board procedures. In her day job, Ms. Spottswood worked for the Vermont Attorney General’s Office for the last six years, most recently serving as the Vermont Solicitor General. In December 2023 she became a Senior Staff Attorney for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, where she litigates to protect and expand reproductive freedoms nationwide. She lives with her wife and dog in Burlington.