Beryl A. Howell
|Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia|
|Assumed office |
March 16, 2016
|Preceded by||Richard W. Roberts|
|Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia|
|Assumed office |
December 27, 2010
|Appointed by||Barack Obama|
|Preceded by||Paul L. Friedman|
December 3, 1956
Fort Benning, Georgia
|Education||Bryn Mawr College (B.A.)|
Columbia Law School (J.D.)
Beryl Alaine Howell (born December 3, 1956) is the Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Currently, she is the federal judge supervising the Grand Jury in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Howell is the daughter of an Army officer. She attended public school in six states and Germany before graduating from Bryn Mawr College with her Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors in Philosophy in 1978 and from Columbia University School of Law with a Juris Doctor in 1983.
Following law school graduation, Howell clerked for Judge Dickinson Richards Debevoise in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey from 1983 to 1984. From 1985 to 1987, she was in private practice as an associate at the New York City law firm of Schulte Roth & Zabel.
From 1987 to 1993, Howell was an Assistant United States Attorney for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, where she became Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Section. From 1993 to 2003, Howell served on the staff of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary as a senior advisor to chairman Patrick Leahy, including as the committee's general counsel starting in 1997.
While working for Senator Leahy, Howell helped craft the E-FOIA amendments, which expanded electronic access to government records. She also helped Sen. Leahy fend off proposals to impose new limits on the FOIA. In 2001, she was honored by the Coalition to Support and Expand the Freedom of Information Act, and in 2004, her FOIA work was honored by the Society of Professional Journalists.
Howell was involved in crafting numerous pieces of legislation for the investigation and prosecution of computer crime and copyright infringement, including the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), the No Electronic Theft Act (NET Act), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999.
She was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 14, 2010 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 22, 2010. She received her judicial commission on December 27, 2010. She became Chief Judge on March 17, 2016. A 2015 analysis by Ravel Law found Howell to be the second most-cited district court judge appointed in the past five years.
In 2011, Harold Hodge Jr. stood outside the U.S. Supreme Court wearing a sign that protested the American government's treatment of black and Hispanic people. He did so in violation of a 1949 federal law that makes such protests a crime. Hodge sued the Marshal of the United States Supreme Court and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia under the First Amendment. In a June 2013 decision, Howell struck down the law as violating the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. The judge wrote, "The absolute prohibition on expressive activity in the statute is unreasonable, substantially overbroad and irreconcilable with the First Amendment." The defendants appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which reversed Howell's decision and reinstated the law as it applies to the Supreme Court Plaza and steps. Hodge v. Talkin, 799 F. 3d 1145 (2015).
From 2004 to 2009, Howell was executive vice president, executive managing director, and general counsel at Stroz Friedberg, a global digital risk management and investigations firm. Howell's work at Stroz Friedberg included lobbying on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America, and, briefly, Universal Music Group.
Paul L. Friedman
| Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Richard W. Roberts
| Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia|