Front of U.S. Supreme Court building

On Wednesday, December 11, 2019, ten members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association (DHHBA) will be sworn in and admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court.  All members are deaf or hard of hearing attorneys. The participants are:

  • Azeema Akram, Administrative Law Judge, Illinois Commerce Commission, Chicago, Illinois
  • Kristy L. Avino, Attorney, McCarter & English, LLP, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Jeremy Bolton, Solo Practitioner, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Jessica Kennedy, Legal Director, Communication Service for the Deaf, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Jana Miller, Attorney, Ashland, Kentucky
  • Caitlin Parton, Attorney, Disability Law Center, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Peter Pentony, Attorney, WilliamsFord, Shepherdstown, West Virginia
  • Robert Reilman, Solo Practitioner, Kalmazoo, Michigan
  • Michael Sabella, Attorney, Baker & Hostetler LLP, New York, New York
  • Anna Maria Wilson, Chief Legal Officer, Communication Service for the Deaf, Austin, Texas

This is the third time that DHHBA will participate in the group swearing-in ceremony.  The Supreme Court will provide American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and realtime captioning (also known as Communication Access Realtime Translation, or CART) for DHHBA participants.  Rachel Arfa, DHHBA President and an attorney at Equip for Equality, Illinois’ designated Protection and Advocacy Agency, was part of the inaugural group of 13 DHHBA attorneys sworn into the U.S. Supreme Court Bar on April 19, 2016.  A second group of 11 DHHBA attorneys was sworn in on January 17, 2018. Ms. Arfa will make the motion to admit the ten new members. “DHHBA is honored to present its members for admittance to the Supreme Court Bar, as a demonstrated commitment to increasing representation of deaf and hard of hearing attorneys in the legal field. Deaf and hard of hearing attorneys often have to navigate through barriers to succeed in their careers, and having them stand up in front of the greatest court of the land to be admitted is a significant and symbolic gesture for our members,” stated Ms. Arfa.

It is customary for attorneys to be admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar with a group, such as a professional organization or a group of university alumni.  At the ceremony, an attorney who is already a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar vouches for the group of prospective members, and the Chief Justice then welcomes them before they are sworn in.  Attorneys admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar are permitted to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Admission is only granted if an attorney is sponsored by two current members of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar and has been an attorney in good standing for at least three years.

For more information, please contact DHHBA President, Rachel Arfa at, (312)278-7001 (phone),  or 202-247-5943 (text only). Learn more about DHHBA at