News Release

U.S. Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle NE
Washington, DC 20002-8002

For Immediate Release:
November 23, 2004

Contact: Michael Courlander
Public Affairs Officer
(202) 502-4597


Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa Confirmed as Chair; Beryl Howell Confirmed as Commissioner; Judge Ruben Castillo and Professor Michael O’Neill Reappointed

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 23, 2004) – On Sunday, November 21, 2004, the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment as chair of Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa; confirmed Ms. Beryl A. Howell as commissioner; and confirmed the reappointments to the Sentencing Commission of Judge Ruben Castillo (vice chair), and Professor Michael E. O’Neill.

“I am honored to have been nominated as chair by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and we are happy to once again have a full contingent of commissioners on board,” said Judge Hinojosa. “We have a formidable agenda this year, and the addition of Ms. Beryl Howell, with the accomplishments and varied experience she brings to her service on the Commission, and the reappointments of Judge Castillo and Professor O’Neill, allow us to forge ahead with all the hard work ahead of us.”

Judge Hinojosa has been a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission since May of 2003 and received a recess appointment as chair of the Commission by President George W. Bush on August 2, 2004. Judge Hinojosa, who has served on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas since 1983, has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law. From 1976 until 1983, he was an attorney with the Ewers & Toothaker Law Firm and was a partner at the time he became a judge. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with honors from the University of Texas at Austin in 1972, and earned his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1975. Judge Hinojosa received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Texas Ex-Students’ Association in 2001. He served as member (1979-83) and chairman (1981-83) of the Pan American University Board of Regents (now University of Texas-Pan American), and in 1986 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Pan American University Alumni Association.

Ms. Howell serves as managing director, general counsel of the Washington, D.C. Office of Stroz Friedberg, LLC. She is the former general counsel of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where she worked on a variety of criminal justice, technology, and other issues before the Committee. Prior to her work on the Senate staff, Ms. Howell served as an assistant U.S. attorney and deputy chief of the Narcotics Section of the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York. She was formerly an associate at Schulte, Roth & Zabel in New York City and a clerk for the Honorable Dickinson R. Debevoise in the District of New Jersey. During her tenure on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Howell worked for Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) (chairman and ranking member on the full Committee), and for the Technology and the Law Subcommittee and the Antitrust, Business Rights and Competition Subcommittee. Ms. Howell received her B.A. from from Bryn Mawr College and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.

Judge Ruben Castillo was first appointed to the U.S. Sentencing Commission on November 15, 1999. He has served as a U.S. district judge for the Northern District of Illinois since 1994. From 1991-1994, he was a partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis. He was the regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 1988-1991. Judge Castillo served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois from 1984-1988 and was previously with the firm of Jenner & Block. He is an adjunct professor of trial advocacy at Northwestern University School of Law, where he has taught since 1988. Judge Castillo received a B.A. degree from Loyola University of Chicago and a J.D. degree from Northwestern University School of Law, where he served on the editorial board of the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. Judge Castillo has been involved with the criminal justice system since 1978 when he was appointed as a deputy clerk for the local criminal courts, a position he maintained throughout college and law school.

Professor Michael E. O’Neill was first appointed to the U.S. Sentencing Commission on November 15, 1999. He is an associate professor of law at George Mason University School of Law, having joined George Mason’s law school faculty full-time in 1998. Previously, he served as general counsel for the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, as a special assistant U.S. attorney in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and as an appellate litigator in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division Appellate Section. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and for the Honorable David B. Sentelle, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Professor O'Neill received a B.A. degree summa cum laude from Brigham Young University and a J.D. degree from Yale Law School.

Chair Hinojosa’s term expires October 31, 2007; the term of Ms. Beryl Howell expires October 31, 2005; and the terms of Judge Castillo and Professor O’Neill expire October 31, 2009.

By statute, the Sentencing Commission is composed of seven voting members and two nonvoting ex-officio members. No more than four commissioners may be members of the same political party, and no more than three may be federal judges. Other members of the Sentencing Commission include Chief Judge William K. Sessions III (vice chair), Commissioner John R. Steer (vice chair), and Commissioner Michael E. Horowitz.

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