Candace Ray Jackson-Akiwumi is President Biden's nominee to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The court's area of authority includes Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois. This profile is based on the completed Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees Jackson-Akiwumi submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee. She is expected to appear Wednesday, April 28, before the committee for a hearing.
Name: Candace Ray Jackson-Akiwumi
Nominated to: Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
Nomination date: March 30, 2021
Law School – Yale Law School
Undergrad – Princeton University
High School - None listed
2020-present Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, Washington, D.C.
2010-2020 Federal Defender Program for the Northern District of Illinois, Inc.
American Bar Association
Black Women Lawyers' Association of Greater Chicago
Federal Bar Association
National Association of Federal Defenders
Women's White Collar Defense Association
Chicago Coalition for Law-Related Education Volunteer Mock Trial Coach
(2009, 2010, 2015)
Diaspora! Rhythms (art collectors' organization) (2013 - 2020)
Edward J. Lewis II Lawyers in the Classroom Volunteer (2005 -2006)
Election Protection Chicago Legal Committee (2008)
Ladies of Virtue (girls' mentoring organization) Annual Fundraiser Host Committee (2017, 2018)
Princeton Club of Chicago (Various positions, 2006-2020)
Princeton Club of Washington (2020-present)
Princeton University Alumni Council (Various positions, 2015-2020)
Princeton University Class of 2000 Millennial Lecture Series Committee (2010)
West Point Missionary Baptist Church (Legal ministry, 2013-2019; writer, "The Point" (2013-2014)
Yale Law School Association of Illinois Steering Committee (2008-2020)
Yale Law School Class of 2005 (Reunion social chair, 2020; reunion co-chair, 2010)
Yale Law School Executive Committee Term Member (2019-12)
Yale Law Women Summer Alumni Mentor (2013 - 2015)
Judicial offices held: 0
Previous public office, political activities, and affiliations: None
Previous involvement in political campaigns:
On one occasion in 2008, I volunteered at a phone bank for Barack Obama's campaign for President of the United States. My responsibility was to call voters. I did not have a title.
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings:
Engaged in complex civil litigation at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which she joined in 2007.
My billable matters involved contracts, tax, privacy, securities, and patent infringement. My pro bono matters involved adoption, civil rights, criminal law, tort law, and immigration at the trial and appellate level, in federal and state court, and before administrative bodies....
During my decade as a federal defender, I represented over 400 clients accused of federal crimes at every stage of the process, from investigation to trial and pre-trial proceedings,
sentencing, and appeal, including petitions for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. In case types ranging from fraud to firearms, I successfully advised grand jury witness appearances, negotiated pleas, and achieved hundreds of mitigated sentences. I tried
seven federal jury trials. I briefed and argued five more appeals in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit....
Handles civil and criminal cases at Zuckerman Spaeder.
Percent of practice in: Federal courts, 80%; state courts, 17%; other courts, 0%; administrative agencies, 3%
Percent of practice in: Civil proceedings, 34%; criminal proceedings, 66%.
Number of cases tried to verdict: Eight, all jury trials.
Describe the 10 most significant litigated matters you handled (WJI is picking the first four listed. All four originated in the Northern District of Illinois):
1. United States v. Brown, No. 12 CR 632-1
From 2012 to 2018, I represented Mr. Brown, who was charged with, among other things, conspiracy to rob a fictitious drug stash house. In 2013, I and two attorneys in a related case began challenging the pattern of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in bringing these cases largely against African-American and Latino defendants. The groundbreaking discovery litigation we initiated attracted the attention of the University of Chicago's Federal Criminal Justice Clinic. In 2014, the clinic joined the effort and spearheaded (1) the filing of a Motion to Dismiss for Racially Selective Law Enforcement in 12 pending cases on behalf of 43 defendants and (2) the retention of an expert statistician to support defendants' position and testify at an unprecedented nine-judge evidentiary hearing in 2017. In 2018, the
district court denied defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Nonetheless, the course of events
resulted in favorable plea offers to all defendants and my client was sentenced to time
served. The litigation also resulted in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois no longer charging fictitious stash house cases.
2. United States v. Webster, No. 13 CR 103-5
From 2013 to 2018, I represented Mr. Webster, who was charged with, among other things, conspiracy to rob a fictitious drug stash house. In addition to raising the challenge described in the case summary above ( United States v. Brown), I along with two attorneys with related cases challenged the practice of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of surreptitiously recording suspects in an enclosed police van after their arrest but failing to provide Miranda warnings. I filed a motion to suppress objecting to this practice on behalf of my client and his four codefendants; conducted direct and cross examination at a suppression hearing that turned into multiple suppression hearings; filed a motion to reconsider when the
district court granted our motion only in part (agreeing that the characteristics of the van supported a reasonable expectation of privacy in defendants' conversations); wrote and filed the appellee brief when the prosecution filed an interlocutory appeal; filed a cross-appeal; wrote and filed the cross-appellant brief; and argued the appeal before a panel of judges on the Seventh Circuit. The Seventh Circuit reversed the district court's decision granting in part the motion to suppress and denied Mr. Webster's cross-appeal as moot. In 2018, the district court sentenced my client to a time served sentence of six days in prison.
3. United States v. French, No. 14 CR 318
From 2014 to 2017, I represented Mr. French, who pled guilty to hacking, among other places, colleges, government agencies, and telecommunication companies. The case involved voluminous, technical discovery relating to computer fraud and the hacking world. I retained a cyber security expert to successfully challenge the prosecution's position that my client's hacking was especially complex or intricate and therefore warranted a sentencing guidelines enhancement. I hired a psychiatrist as part of a much larger mitigation presentation to advocate for a sentence far lower than the prosecution requested, and I was successful. The case also involved significant litigation during the pretrial release phase to (1) garner court orders for the U.S. Marshals to transport my indigent client between his home in the southeastern part of the United States and court in Chicago, and (2) advocate for the best outcome for my client when he violated the terms of his bond because of mental health and substance abuse issues.
4. United States v. Common, No. 12 CR 893
From 2012 to 2016, I represented Mr. Common, who was charged with possessing a firearm as a felon and was subject to a I5-year-mandatory minimum sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act. As lead counsel, along with my co-counsel, I completed the core trial tasks: investigating the case, developing trial strategy, preparing witnesses (this was a rare care where we had multiple defense witnesses), drafting motions in limine, conducting direct and cross examination of witnesses, and writing and delivering closing arguments. Mr. Common's case was unique in that we secured a hung jury not once, but twice. The third jury voted to convict. After the conviction, I prepared post-trial motions and, when the court denied those, I wrote the brief for the appellant (my client) and the reply brief and argued the case before a
panel of judges on the Seventh Circuit. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the third jury's verdict and the trial decisions of the district court. Next, I filed a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court, which was denied. As a final step to assist my client, I secured habeas counsel for him.
"In my civic life as a lawyer, I have consistently served the disadvantaged." - Candace Ray Jackson-Akiwumi
Describe the most significant legal activities you have pursued
During my decade as a federal public defender, litigation that did not progress to trial but
nonetheless involved substantial motions to dismiss or motions to suppress often required
As a federal public defender, cases where I was able to divert deserving clients from
prosecution also qualified as significant. As one example, I successfully advocated for
pretrial diversion for a retired scientist with no criminal history whose severe posttraumatic
stress disorder led him to report a false bomb threat to a federal building when
he was unusually nervous about his first-ever Internal Revenue Service audit....
Teaching and training was another significant activity I undertook during my years as a
defender. At the invitation of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts,
Defender Services, Training Division, I began traveling to train federal defenders and
private criminal defense practitioners around the country. In 2018, I served as faculty for
a national seminar on persuasive writing. In 2019, I twice served as faculty for national
seminars where I instructed attendees on plea negotiations, proffers, and cooperators.
These trainings complemented the teaching I did in other contexts. For example, in 2015,
I taught the Federal Defender Program's intensive Introduction to Federal Criminal Law
course for summer interns. In 2018, I co-taught a seminar at Northwestern Law School.
The last training I conducted as a defender was in 2019 before an audience of fellow
public defenders and private criminal defense attorneys. I presented a primer on filing
motions for compassionate release under the new First Step Act.
Describe your pro bono work
From 2010 until 2020, I was a federal public defender and, as such, 100% of my practice
served the disadvantaged.
When I was in private practice before becoming a defender, approximately 30% of my
time involved pro bono legal services. I represented families in adoption proceedings and
a state prisoner with a health care lawsuit. I briefed and argued a criminal appeal in the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and secured early termination of federal
supervised release for another defendant. I won protection under the Violence Against
Women Act and lawful permanent residency for a woman and her two children. I
represented an employment discrimination plaintiff in a successful Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission mediation. I helped another claimant successfully settle her
parental discrimination claims. As a final example, I won a jury verdict for the elderly
victim of an automobile accident.
In my civic life as a lawyer, I have consistently served the disadvantaged. As some
examples, I volunteered as a mock trial coach at public schools with underserved
populations; spearheaded a bar association partnership with a high school in an
underserved neighborhood; volunteered as a lawyer in underserved elementary school
classrooms; helped plan a pop-up community legal clinic; served as administrator for a
program designed to assist new, under-resourced law students; volunteered for a pipeline
program for middle school and high school students interested in legal careers; and twice
chaired a bar association's community service committee.
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