Sens. Warnock, Ossoff Announce Federal Nominations Advisory Commission

Commission will interview and recommend candidates to Sens. Warnock & Ossoff for federal openings in Georgia
Commission led by former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears
16 commission members come from diverse backgrounds and careers across the state

Washington, D.C. — Today, Georgia U.S. Senators Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff announced their joint 2021 Federal Nominations Advisory Commission, which will review candidates on an ongoing basis for the positions of U.S. District Court Judge, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal positions in all three of Georgia’s federal districts. The Commission will advise the Senators on their findings before the Senators make their final recommendations to President Biden. 

The Constitution gives United States Senators the responsibility of providing advice and consent to the President on federal judicial nominations, and one important part of this role is recommending individuals to the President to serve as U.S. District Court Judges, as well as U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals.  

Warnock and Ossoff’s commission is composed of a diverse group of trial lawyers, judges, civil rights leaders, and criminal justice reform advocates, all of whom bring a wide array of experiences to help recommend candidates for the federal judicial positions.

The Commission will be led by Judge Leah Ward Sears, the former Chief Justice of Georgia’s Supreme Court and the first African American female Supreme Court Chief Justice in the country’s history.

“I’m honored this unparalleled group of legal and civil rights experts has stepped up to serve the country, and assist Senator Ossoff and me in making recommendations for critical appointments to the federal bench and key law enforcement posts,” said Senator Warnock. “I’m grateful to Judge Sears for leading this important effort, and I’m confident this commission will provide thoughtful guidance that reflects Georgians’ commitment to truth, integrity and justice.”

“I am grateful to these commissioners and to Chairwoman Sears for their willingness to serve. I look forward to their guidance as Senator Reverend Warnock and I make recommendations to President Biden for appointments to vital federal judgeships and law enforcement offices,”Senator Ossoff said.

“The federal judicial system plays an extraordinary role in cases that impact our fundamental rights,” Justice Sears said. “For far too long, this system has inadequately represented the great diversity of Georgia and America. I’m honored to lead Senators Ossoff and Warnock’s Commission to bring new, different, and unique perspectives to the federal nominations process and ensure all voices across Georgia are fairly represented.”

Warnock and Ossoff are accepting applications on a rolling basis. Georgians interested in applying for the upcoming Northern District Court Judge vacancies have until Wednesday, March 17, to apply, and those interested in U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal vacancies in all three Georgia judicial districts have until March 26.

All applications can be found here.

The Commission members are below:

  1. Justice Leah Ward Sears will serve as the Chair of Warnock and Ossoff’s Federal Nominations Advisory Commission. At just 36 years old, she became the first woman and the youngest justice appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia. In 2005, Sears was elected by her peers as Chief Justice, becoming the first African-American woman to serve as chief justice of any state supreme court in the United States. She is currently a Partner in the Litigation Section of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. 

  2. Jason Carter is a former Georgia Senator and a partner at Bondurant, Mixson and Elmore LLP.  Jason also chairs the Carter Center’s Board of Trustees. From 2010-2015 he served in the Georgia State Senate, and was the 2014 Democratic Nominee for Governor of Georgia. Over the last two decades, Jason has also litigated several important voting rights cases, including a successful challenge to the state’s photo requirement for voting, and landmark redistricting litigation.  Jason has consistently been recognized as a Super Lawyer in Atlanta Magazine and has received numerous other awards for his legal work and community service, including the Anti-Defamation League’s Stuart Eizenstat Award.

  3. Cathy Cox is Dean and Professor of Law at Mercer University School of Law. She previously served for ten years as President of Young Harris College, for two terms as Georgia’s elected Secretary of State, and for two terms as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives.  Cox previously actively practiced law in Atlanta and in her hometown of Bainbridge, and remains an active member of the State Bar of Georgia. She earned her JD from Mercer Law School, an ABJ from the UGA Grady College of Journalism, and an A.S. in horticulture from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. She is a director of the publicly-traded United Community Bank board, and serves on a number of charitable and civic boards. She is married to attorney Mark Dehler and resides in Macon.

  4. Mawuli Davis is a civil rights lawyer and human rights organizer based in Decatur, Georgia. He is co-founder of the Davis Bozeman Law Firm, where he leads the firms’ Civil Rights and Trial Divisions. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy, earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Bowie State University and a law degree from Georgia State University College of Law.  He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC). He co-founded the nonprofits Let Us Make Man and the Black Man Lab, which both aim to empower and provide a positive influence for Black men. 

  5. Allegra Lawrence Hardy is a founding partner of Lawrence & Bundy LLC, a commercial litigation firm that represents clients in class actions, wage-and-hour collective actions, complex civil litigation, and investigations. She is a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School. In 2018, she served as the chair of Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign, and she is a senior advisor to Fair Fight Action and lead counsel in Fair Fight Action v. Raffensperger, litigation against the Georgia Secretary of State’s office alleging intentional neglect of voting systems in communities of color. 

  6. Jeff Horst is the managing partner of the highly regarded 28 lawyer Krevolin & Horst law firm in Atlanta. Prior to forming K&H, Horst was a partner at Bondurant Mixson & Elmore in Atlanta. He is a trial lawyer who has tried cases for both plaintiffs and defendants in 5 states ranging from 2 days to 7 months. He was one of the principal trial counsel in a 5 month jury trial in Tampa, Florida that was selected by the National Law Journal as a top 10 defense verdicts for the year. Horst is a Fellow in the American Academy of Trial Counsel, and he also has been nominated for many years since 2004 by his peers and selected by Chambers USA: Leading Lawyers for Business Litigation; Atlanta Magazine/Super Lawyers (including Top 100 in Georgia), Georgia Trend Magazine’s Legal Elite, and Best Lawyers in America.

  7. Francys Johnson is an American civil rights attorney, pastor and educator in Statesboro, Georgia. Johnson is an active member of the NAACP, having served as the organization’s regional director and previously as Georgia’s state President. Johnson received his undergraduate degree from Georgia Southern and law degree from UGA.

  8. Suzy Ockleberry is a former Assistant Vice President and attorney for AT&T in the Southeast Labor and Employment Litigation Group. Since retiring from AT&T, Ockleberry has been working as an arbitrator in Atlanta. Since 2013, Ockleberry has served as one of the Co-Conveners of Advocacy For Action (AFA), an organization dedicated to advocating for and educating the public about the importance of a representative and diverse state and federal judiciary in Georgia.  She is also a member of the American Constitution Society (ACS) Judicial Pipeline Task Force and the State Bar of Georgia Judicial Evaluation Committee. In September, 2020, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis selected her as one of the Co-Chairs for the Integrity Transition Task Force which was created to assist with identifying and developing solutions for the top issues facing the Fulton County District Attorney.  In June 2020, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms appointed her to the Police Use of Force Advisory Council which was created to examine and make recommendations for changes to policing in Atlanta.

  9. Judge Herbert Phipps served on the Georgia Court of Appeals from 1999 until 2016. In 2010 he became a Presiding Judge of the Court, and he served as the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals from July 2013 through June 2015. He previously served for eight years as part-time Magistrate and Associate Judge of the Dougherty County State Court, judge of the Dougherty County Juvenile Court, and Judge of the Dougherty Circuit Superior Court. Judge Phipps has served on Georgia’s Judicial Nominating Commission, the Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Racial and Ethnic Bias, and the Georgia Indigent Defense Council Advisory Committee. He is a former member of the State Bar Board of Governors and past President of the Dougherty Circuit Bar Association.

  10. Shyam Reddy is Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary & SVP, Corporate Development at BlueLinx Corporation. Previously, Shyam served as CAO, GC & Corporate Secretary of OmniMax, Regional Administrator of the Southeast Sunbelt Region of GSA (Obama Administration), and corporate partner at Kilpatrick Townsend. Shyam chairs the Board of Councilors at The Carter Center and serves on the Board of Trustees at the US German Marshall Fund. Shyam previously served on the Board of Trustees at the Woodruff Arts Center, the Emory Board of Visitors, the Board of Directors of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, and the Boards of The Alumni Association and School of Public Health at UGA. He is a graduate of both LEAD Atlanta and Leadership Atlanta.

  11. Pamela Peynado Stewart is an immigration attorney and a Partner at the Lee & Peynado Immigration Law Group. Stewart became the youngest and only female lawyer in the history of the firm when she was 29 years old. An immigrant from the Dominican Republic, Stewart is also the founder of The Love Project 404, a nonprofit that provides “a voice to the voiceless by helping the underprivileged, facing incredible hardships rooted from systemic racism and cultural biases, with access to resources and financial assistance.” 

  12. Dwight Thomas is a criminal defense attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. Before entering private practice in 1980, Thomas worked for the Fulton County Solicitor’s Office, the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and later for the U.S. Department of Education as an attorney in the Office of Civil Rights. Thomas is a graduate of the University of Georgia and the University of Miami School of Law. He served over 24 years as a member of the Board of Governors for the State Bar of Georgia.

  13. Sara Totonchi currently leads the Southern Center for Human Rights as its Executive Director (SCHR), and is a longtime advocate for criminal justice reform. SCHR is a not for profit whose aim is to end mass incarceration, the death penalty, the criminalization of poverty, and racial injustice.

  14. Michael Warshauer is a past president of the Northside Atlanta Jaycees and the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. A trial lawyer, he limits his practice to the representation of catastrophically injured plaintiffs in state and federal courts, and has tried cases in United States District Courts throughout the country. He is the immediate past president of the Georgia Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Warshauer serves on the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice and served on its Executive Committee. His professional recognitions include being listed by Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers for more than 17 years (top 100 in Georgia), and the National Trial Lawyers (top 100 in Georgia). He regularly presents as an invited speaker at continuing legal education programs throughout the country. He obtained his BA and MPH from Emory and his JD from UGA, and lives in Atlanta with his wife and son.

  15. James Woodall is currently the State President of the Georgia NAACP. Woodall is from Riverdale, Georgia, and served in the U.S. Army for 8 years as an Intelligence Analyst. In October 2019 at the age of 25, he was elected as the new State President of the Georgia NAACP, making him the youngest State President in NAACP history. 

  16. Andrea Young is the executive director of the 22,000 member American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. She is a life-long advocate for civil and human rights. Young was also an Adjunct Professor at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. Young is a graduate of Swarthmore College and received her law degree from Georgetown University School of Law; she is also a member of the State Bar of Georgia.


Title and affiliation are provided for identification purposes only. A noted theologian and social justice advocate, Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock was elected to the United State Senate in 2021 and serves on the Senate Agriculture, Banking, and Commerce committees.