Jason Aldrich is Judicial Watch’s longest standing employee having joined the organization in November of 1997. Since 2001 he has served as a staff attorney. Jason has extensive experience litigating Freedom of Information Act cases in federal court as well as Freedom of Information Law cases in New York State. Jason has been involved in several significant Judicial Watchcases, including the FOIA lawsuit that uncovered a scheme in President Clinton’s CommerceDepartment to offer seats on government trade missions in exchange for campaign contributions. Jason received his law degree from the Marshall- Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary in 1997, where he was an article editor for the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal. He received his undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Bates College in 1993. He is a member of the bars of New York, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Lauren M. Burke joined the Judicial Watch legal team in September 2014. She has extensive trial experience and a background in government and public policy. Lauren worked for a large New England law firm and a boutique, full service law firm in Boston, MA where she was part of a strong litigation team that developed a cooperative legal group working in Massachusetts and Washington D.C. Lauren has litigated civil, commercial and criminal cases in federal, state, and administrative courts. Notably, Lauren argued against qualified immunity in a federal civil rights case and successfully defeated summary judgment in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts; arbitrated an award for compensation, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees in a Wage and Payment Act case on fraud and successor liability; negotiated a multi-million dollar settlement as lead counsel in an international trademark and patent rights case; was lead counsel in a consumer protection case obtaining favorable judgment and collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for further prosecution; successfully resolved a commercial contract dispute in the international arbitration forum. Prior to embarking on a legal career, Lauren worked in government relations in both the public and private sectors in Washington, D.C. While pursuing a B.A. in politics from the Catholic University of America, Lauren worked at Judicial Watch in the development department. She received her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School in Boston, MA where she worked as a certified prosecutor in Boston district court under Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3.03. She also worked for the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services as an appellate attorney for indigent clients achieving remand or overturned verdict in 10 out of 12 appeals filed and argued. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Lauren now resides and primarily practices in Washington D.C. She is licensed in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
Michael Bekesha joined Judicial Watch’s legal team in 2009 after receiving his law degree. Michael previously interned with Judicial Watch during his last summer of law school.
Since joining Judicial Watch, Michael has litigated dozens of freedom of information cases in both state and federal courts on behalf of Judicial Watch as well as individuals, media organizations, and other not-for-profit organizations. Most recently, Michael successfully forced the U.S. Department of Justice to produce over 42,000 pages of records that were being improperly withheld under a claim of Executive Privilege.
In addition to government transparency lawsuits, Michael has had extensive experience litigating accountability and integrity lawsuits in both federal and state court. Michael has challenged the delay of the employer mandate on behalf of a Florida orthodontist, challenged the Cook County Sheriff’s Office for failing to comply with its legal duties, and challenged the District of Columbia’s policy allowing Congressional employees to purchase health insurance on the “Small Business Exchange.” Michael also has represented a whistleblower in a whistleblower/First Amendment retaliation action under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and three police officers in a Section 1983 lawsuit for violations of their rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Moreover, Michael has filed numerous amicus curiae briefs concerning a variety of issues, including Voter ID, illegal immigration, FOIA, and executive overreach. Michael has also drafted legislation and testified before state legislatures. Michael most recently testified before the State Government Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives concerning the impeachment of the Pennsylvania Attorney General.
Michael received his law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Law in 2009, where he was a member of the Journal of Dispute Resolution. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Northwestern University in 2004 and is actively involved in Northwestern’s local and national alumni affairs. Michael has been published three times, most recently in the Administrative and Regulatory Law News in an article entitled James Madison Would Not Litigate FOIA Disputes: Fixing FOIA through ADR, and is a member of the bars of the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ramona R. Cotca
Ramona R. Cotca joined Judicial Watch’s legal team as a senior attorney in May 2013. For the last eight years prior to joining Judicial Watch, she worked as a litigator for a local boutique firm and then joined the national in-house litigation group for a Fortune 500 company. In her previous practice she represented corporate clients in a variety of complex civil litigation matters, including contracts, insurance, product liability, professional malpractice, real estate and wrongful death. Ms. Cotca has tried cases in local state and federal courts in the District of Columbia and Maryland, and has argued cases at the appellate levels, including the U.S. Court for Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Ms. Cotca is a member of the bars of the District of Columbia and Maryland, as well as several federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.Ms. Cotca earned her Juris Doctorate and Masters of Arts in International Affairs from Washington College of Law and American University in 2004. She graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with high honors in 2001 and attended Oxford University in 2000. Ms. Cotca is also an active member in a number of professional legal organizations, including The Barristers, and sits on several boards. Ms. Cotca is fluent in Romanian.
Chris Fedeli joined Judicial Watch in 2012 as a senior attorney. Since joining, Chris has litigated multiple cases in state and federal courts concerning election integrity, ballot initiatives and referendums, and government transparency. In October, 2013, Chris argued the gerrymandering referendum case of Parrot v. McDonough before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Chris has also authored or co-authored several amicus briefs for Judicial Watch filed with the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts. Prior to joining Judicial Watch, Chris was a senior associate at Davis Wright Tremaine in Washington D.C., where he represented clients in communications law litigation and regulatory proceedings. In 2009, the ABA’s Communications Lawyer published Chris’s article criticizing the FCC for its heavy-handed net neutrality regulations, which have since been overturned twice by the DC Circuit. Chris is a native of New Jersey. He received his law degree from Georgetown University and his undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He is admitted to practice before the courts of Maryland, the District of Columbia, and several federal courts. During his career, Chris has been active in the Federal Communications Bar Association and the Republican National Lawyers Association.
Eric Lee joined Judicial Watch’s legal team after graduating law school in 2015. He previously interned at Judicial Watch in the Fall of 2011 and Summer of 2013, where he helped successfully defend the constitutionality of petition signatures in Doe v. Md. State Bd. of Elections, 428 Md. 596 (Md. 2012), and aided in filing various civil complaints under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Since joining full-time, Eric assisted in ending racially-based voting practices and procedures under the Fifteenth Amendment and § 2 of the Voting Rights Act in Akina v. Hawaii, 136 S. Ct. 581 (2015). Prior to Judicial Watch, Eric was invited by faculty to co-lead the University of Maryland’s Clinical Law Program, where he served as advisor and practiced in various civil-litigation matters pro bono publico under Md. Rule 16. Among other things, Eric helped defend low-income Baltimore City residents from city tax-lien foreclosure and worked with Maryland pro bono organizations to help defend consumers from predatory lending practices. Eric graduated magna cum laude from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a degree in Economics and received his J.D. from the University of Maryland School Of Law. Eric is a member of the bar of Maryland.
Paul J. Orfanedes
Paul Orfanedes heads Judicial Watch’s Litigation Department and has been with Judicial Watch since its inception. Paul is a distinguished civil litigator who has argued in front of the Supreme Court and in the federal appeal courts on behalf of Judicial Watch and its clients.As Director of Litigation, he has been a spokesperson for Judicial Watch with his legal commentary appearing in major radio and print media outlets. In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the Legal Department, Paul is Corporate Secretary and Treasurer of Judicial Watch. He is also member of the Board of Directors.Paul is a native of Illinois. He graduated from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1986. He received his Juris Doctorate from American University in 1990.
James F. Peterson
James F. Peterson, an attorney with broad experience in complex litigation, is a senior member of Judicial Watch’s legal team. His breadth of knowledge and experience have contributed greatly to Judicial Watch’s success as he has played a key role in some of Judicial Watch’s most significant cases. These include Judicial Watch’s case before the Supreme Court concerning Vice President Cheney Energy Task Force documents (Judicial Watch v. Nat’l Energy Policy Dev. Group) and many of Judicial Watch’s groundbreaking lawsuits seeking to compel the enforcement of the nation’s immigration law. Most recently, Mr. Peterson has worked closely with the Arizona State Legislature in its legal defense of Arizona’s “S.B. 1070” immigration enforcement law.Prior to joining Judicial Watch in 2002, Mr. Peterson was a member of the litigation practice of a large national law firm in Washington, D.C., representing business clients in federal and state courts and administrative proceedings. He also was in the litigation department of a major national trade association, representing the industry in complex tax and administrative litigation.Mr. Peterson is a graduate of the George Mason University School of Law, where he was the Articles Editor of the school’s Civil Rights Law Journal. He received his undergraduate degree from Kent State University in Ohio. Mr. Peterson is an active member of the Federalist Society and other conservative organizations. He is a member of the bars of the District of Columbia, Virginia, and numerous federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.
Robert Popper joined Judicial Watch in September 2013 as a senior attorney and as head of Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity Project. Prior to joining Judicial Watch, Mr. Popper worked for eight years, five as Deputy Chief of the Voting Section, in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, in which capacity he garnered numerous professional awards. Before that, Mr. Popper worked as a private attorney in New York City for 17 years, where his practice extended to a wide range of legal matters, including voting rights. Mr. Popper served as counsel in a successful constitutional challenge alleging racial segregation in the design of New York’s congressional districts, and successfully defended the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Popper is a published author on the topic of voting rights law. He developed a legal standard relating to gerrymandering that is widely cited by experts and was adopted by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. He has testified before the Missouri Senate Redistricting Committee and the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee; and he has spoken about voting rights to a conference of U.S. Attorneys at the National Advocacy Center, to state officials, and to countless local community representatives. Mr. Popper is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University Law School. He is admitted to practice in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cristina joined Judicial Watch as a legal assistant in 2002. She holds a BA and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Bucharest, Romania. She also has completed coursework toward a PhD in English at the University of Maryland, where she taught writing and composition for ten years.
David F. Rothstein
David F. Rothstein is a paralegal with Judicial Watch’s legal team. He has worked for Judicial Watch since 2003. David’s prior legal experience included working with both a small law firm and a large legal contractor. David has worked with courts in many different jurisdictions. David has utilized the broad-based knowledge that he has attained to assist Judicial Watch in its many legal victories in both state and federal courts. David is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government. David also has a law degree from the Columbus School of Law of Catholic University and is a member of both the District of Columbia Bar and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Bar. David has litigated Freedom of Information Act cases in addition to his paralegal duties.