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7 Named on Short List for U.S. Bench

Jeri K. Somers, a U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals judge, handles disputes over federal contracts.
Jeri K. Somers, a U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals judge, handles disputes over federal contracts.

Alper, 56, has been an Arlington Circuit Court judge since 1998 and previously was a juvenile court judge in Arlington and a lawyer in private practice. Her prominent cases as a judge include a 2004 ruling that Arlington County's affordable housing program had exceeded its legal authority and a 1999 trial of an Arlington teenager who struck his mother on the head with a hammer at least 14 times and then, after partying more than a day with friends, set fire to her body.

Alper sentenced the 18-year-old to life in prison, calling the crime "horrendous."

Alper said in an interview that she has "thoroughly enjoyed" being a judge.

"I love the courtroom," she said. "I love trial work, and I would consider it the highest honor to be able to serve the people of the United States as a federal judge."

Somers, 46, is a judge for the U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, which handles civil cases involving disputes over federal contracts.

She has served in several other government posts, including as assistant U.S. attorney in Alexandria in the 1990s and as military lawyer. She was briefly in private practice.

"It's time for me to give public service back to the community that I live in," Somers said. "The most ideal way to do that is to be a judge on the court that I'm familiar with."

Novak, 45, has been a federal prosecutor in Richmond since 1994 but spent several years working in Alexandria on the Moussaoui case. He is known as a death penalty specialist and has handled numerous capital punishment cases in Richmond. Novak declined to comment on why he wants to be a federal judge.

The two other candidates are Mark S. Davis, 45, a circuit judge in Portsmouth, and Dennis W. Dohnal, 61, a U.S. magistrate judge based in Richmond.


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