About the Commissioners

Last updated January 2016 


CHIEF JUDGE PATTI B. SARIS, District Judge for the District of Massachusetts. President Obama nominated Judge Saris to be a member and chair of the Commission on April 28, 2010. The Senate confirmed her nomination on December 22, 2010.

Judge Saris has served as a United States district judge for the District of Massachusetts since 1994, having been nominated to the federal bench by President Clinton on October 27, 1993. Prior to her appointment to the district court, Judge Saris served as an associate justice for the Massachusetts Superior Court from 1989 to 1993. From 1986 to 1989, Judge Saris served as a federal magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. She was an attorney in the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice from 1982 to 1986, and held the position of Chief of the Civil Division, Office of the United States Attorney for Massachusetts, from 1984 to 1986. From 1979 until 1981, Judge Saris served as staff counsel to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Judge Saris received her B.A., magna cum laude, in 1973 from Radcliffe College and her J.D., cum laude, in 1976 from Harvard Law School. She served as a law clerk to the late Justice Robert Braucher of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 1976 to 1977. Judge Saris is a recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Harvard University Medal of Honor (2009), a Judicial Conference of the United States Resolution of Appreciation (2005), and the Boston Bar Association's Citation of Judicial Excellence (2003).


JUDGE CHARLES R. BREYER, Senior District Judge for the Northern District of California. Judge Breyer has served as a United States district judge for the Northern District of California since 1998. Previously, he worked at the law firm now known as Coblenz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP from 1974 to 1997, with a brief stint as Chief Assistant District Attorney for San Francisco in 1979. From 1973 to 1974, Judge Breyer worked as an Assistant Special Prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. He also served as an Assistant District Attorney in San Francisco from 1967 to 1973. Judge Breyer began his legal career as a law clerk to Judge Oliver J. Carter of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. He received his J.D. in 1966 from the University of California at Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law and his B.A. cum laude in 1963 from Harvard College.


MS. DABNEY FRIEDRICH was appointed to the U.S. Sentencing Commission in December 2006 and reappointed in December 2010. Prior to her service on the Commission, Ms. Friedrich served as associate counsel to the President (2003-2006) and as counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee (2002-2003). From 1995 until 2002, she was an assistant U.S. attorney, first for the Southern District of California (1995-1997) and then for the Eastern District of Virginia (1998-2002). Prior to serving as an assistant U.S. attorney, Ms. Friedrich was a litigation associate in private practice at Latham & Watkins in San Diego (1994-1995). From 1992-1994, she served as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the District of Columbia. Ms. Friedrich received her B.A. from Trinity University, her Diploma in Legal Studies from Oxford University, and her J.D. from Yale Law School.

MS. RACHEL BARKOW is the Segal Family Professor of Regulatory Law and Policy at the New York University School of Law, where she focuses her teaching and research on criminal and administrative law. She also serves as the Faculty Director of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at the law school. Ms. Barkow has been a member of the faculty at the New York University School of Law since 2002 and was the Beneficial Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School in the fall of 2008. She worked at the law firm of Kellogg Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel, PLLC, in Washington, D.C., from 1998 to 2002. Ms. Barkow began her legal career by clerking for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia from 1997 to 1998, and before that for Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1996 to 1997. She received her J.D. magna cum laude in 1996 from Harvard Law School and her B.A. with distinction in 1993 from Northwestern University.

JUDGE WILLIAM H. PRYOR, JR., judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Judge Pryor has served as a United States circuit judge for the Eleventh Circuit since 2004. He also taught federal jurisdiction at the University of Alabama School of Law and has served as an adjunct professor at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Pryor served as the Attorney General of the State of Alabama from 1997 to 2004 and as a Deputy Attorney General from 1995 to 1997. Before joining the Attorney General's Office, Judge Pryor practiced law in Birmingham, Alabama for seven years at the law firms of Walston, Stabler, Wells, Anderson & Bains and Cabaniss, Johnston, Gardner, Dumas & O'Neal. From 1987 to 1988, Judge Pryor served as a law clerk for Judge John Minor Wisdom of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He received his J.D. magna cum laude in 1987 from Tulane University Law School, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Tulane Law Review, and his B.A. magna cum laude in 1984 from Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana at Monroe).


MS. MICHELLE MORALES is the Acting Director of the Office of Policy and Legislation (OPL) in the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice. She first joined that office in 2002, and has served as its Deputy Director since 2009. Ms. Morales has also served in various other capacities while on detail from OPL, including Regional Director for Western Hemisphere Programs for the Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Training from 2013- 2015 and Country Engagement Coordinator for the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative from 2008-2009. Previously, she served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. Ms. Morales graduated from Princeton University in 1993 and earned her law degree at Columbia University School of Law in 1996.


MS. J. PATRICIA WILSON SMOOT is the designated ex-officio member of the United States Sentencing Commission representing the United States Parole Commission. Ms. Smoot was nominated to the United States Parole Commission by President Barack Obama and was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 16, 2010. She was designated as Chairman of the United States Parole Commission effective May 29, 2015. Previously, she served as to the Deputy State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County, Maryland starting in 2002. From 1994 to 2002, Commissioner Smoot served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia. Commissioner Smoot also served as a Public Defender in Prince George’s County, Maryland, as an associate in a tort defense litigation firm in the District and as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Susan R. Holmes Winfield in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. Commissioner Smoot holds a B.A. in English and Sociology with a concentration in Legal Studies from Bucknell University and a J.D. from Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America.