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Government and People
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
JUDICIAL NOMINATION COMMISSION OFFERS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC REVIEW OF APPLICATION STATEMENTS OF CANDIDATES FOR CHIEF JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
The Honorable Geoffrey M. Alprin, the Honorable Herbert B. Dixon, Jr., the Honorable Steffen W. Graae, the Honorable Rufus King, HI, the Honorable George W. Mitchell, the Honorable Michael L. Rankin, and the Honorable Lee F. Satterfield are the applicants for the position of Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. They will be considered for designation to a four-year term as Chief Judge upon the retirement of the Honorable Eugene N. Hamilton on September 30, 2000.
The Judicial Nomination Commission is inviting comments from the Bench, Bar and public regarding the fitness of these candidates for designation as Chief Judge, and, therefore, is providing for review copies of the statements submitted by each of the applicants. These documents will be located in the Headquarters offices of the Commission at 515 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 325, Washington, D.C. and available for review, by appointment, only, Monday through Friday between 10 am. and 5:30 p.m. until the deadline date for submitting comments. Please contact Mrs. Smith, at (202) 879-0478 to schedule an appointment.
Comments should be written and mailed or delivered on or before August 4. 2000 to the Commission Chairperson, Patricia M. Worthy, Chairperson at DC Superior Court Building A, 515 Fifth Street, NW, Suite 325, Washington, DC 20001.
Any comments sent to the Commission will be considered confidential and will not be released except with the written approval of the person or persons malting the comments.
Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Professor Patricia M. Worthy
Dear Professor Worthy:
Enclosed please find seven copies of a memorandum by which I am placing myself in nomination for appointment to the position of Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
From its origins as the Court of General Sessions, where I served as bailiff, docket clerk and law clerk, through court reorganization in 1971, the Superior Court has grown into one of the strongest general jurisdiction trial courts in the country. The quality of the bench and the talent of its administrators and staff equip the court to fulfill the highest ideals of service to the city it serves. The task of the next chief judge will be to lead the Court in consolidating its position by maintaining and strengthening its ties to the Congress and OMB as well as the City Council and the Mayor and executive departments.
Within the Court, the chief judge will need to bring the Court family together in an environment of tighter budgets and more limited personnel resources. He (not likely she as of this writing) will need to be able to work well with the chief judge of the Court of Appeals as well as lead, and on occasion mediate, among judges and staff of the Superior Court. I believe I possess the necessary intellectual and temperamental qualities to serve the Court well as chief judge. My interest in doing so stems from my participation in a number of important projects involving substantial administrative efforts. In the following memorandum, I have set forth a brief description of my background and interest in the position of chief judge. I then address what I see as the most important challenges and opportunities before the Court at this time and my thoughts on how the next chief judge should lead the court in confronting them.
Summary of Career
1) Appointed by President Ronald Reagan, October 2, 1984, sworn in, November 2, 1984.
2) Educated, Princeton University (A.B., Biology, 1966) and Georgetown University Law Center, (J.D., 1971).
3) Prior to appointment to the court, served as clerk to Judge Austin Fickling, 1968, clerk to Judge William Pryor, 1968-71; engaged in private practice as an associate, Karr & Greensfelder, 1971-73; associate, Rollinson, Long & Stein, 1973; associate, Rufus King, 1973-77; partner, King & King, which in 1979 became King & Newmyer, which in 1983 merged into Berliner and Maloney, 1979-84; served as Chair, Superior Court Arbitration Committee, 19781979, which recommended to the D.C. Bar a plan of court-annexed arbitration similar to that now offered in the Multi-Door Division of the Court; served on the Civil Subcommittee, Committee to Study the D.C. Court System (the Horsky Committee), 1979-82, which recommended a number of organizational reforms since implemented in the Civil Division of the Court; chaired the Fee Arbitration Board of the D.C. Bar, 1980-83, which wrote rules and organized the arbitration service for lawyer-client fee disputes (the precursor of the current Fee Conciliation Service); chaired the District of Columbia Courts Committee, Division 18 (Litigation), of the D.C. Bar, 1983-1984 which prepared testimony and undertook projects affecting the D.C. Courts.
4) Since appointment to the Superior Court, have served in all divisions, except Probate and Tax, including the Domestic I, Civil I and Felony I calendars and an extensive term, 1990-98, in the Civil Division during its reorganization to an individual calendar system. Service in the Civil Division culminated in service as Deputy Presiding Judge, 1994-96 and Presiding Judge, 1997-98.
5) Responsibilities as Presiding Judge included overseeing the day-to-day management of the Division, chairing the Civil Implementation Group (the management oversight and policy body) and chairing the Civil Rules Advisory Committee, which is responsible for recommending rules changes. While Presiding Judge, developed and obtained consensus for use of a uniform calendar order on all of the Civil II calendars, developed and implemented a limited sanctions calendar in order to encourage better preparation for and use of the Multi-Door mediation service.
6) While on the Court, have chaired the Committee on Technology and Automation from its organization in 1986 to the present; chaired the Superior Court Child Support Guideline Committee, 1988-89; chaired the D.C. Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, 1994-97; co-chaired the Committee on Cameras in Court from its organization in 1993 (now inactive), served on the Training Committee, 1988-90; have chaired the Information Technology Advisory Committee, D.C. Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, 1998-present; have chaired The CTC5 Committee to follow up on the 1998 court technology conference in Detroit, 1998-present.
7) Published 15 opinions in the Daily Washington Law Reporter.
Highlights (of Career)
From the early years of my tenure on the bench, I-have drawn on my experience as a civil practitioner in working for and ultimately helping implement a conversion from a master calendar system in the Civil Division to individual calendars. Having served on the Horsky Committee in the early `80s, I, then active Judge Von Kann and others advocated reform of the Civil Division along the lines first outlined in the Horsky Committee's Report of 1983. A period of behind-the-scenes letter writing and urging the Presiding Judge in the Civil Division and the Chief Judge to consider the reforms ended with the organization, in 1989, of the Civil Delay Reduction Task Force. This was an advisory group of judges and lawyers who studied the feasibility of conversion to individual calendars and implemented a pilot project in 1990.
Though at the time I was assigned in the Family Division, I served on the Task Force and participated in Settlement Weeks. These were occasions when the Civil Division was closed, and all Civil Division judges were assigned to lead teams of lawyer-mediators to attempt settlement of old cases. In January, 1991, I was among the first group of judges assigned to individual calendars in the Civil Division. From that time to the present, I have also served on the "Implementation Group", the management oversight and policy group tasked with implementing and overseeing the operation of the individual calendar system.
In January, 1994, I was appointed Deputy Presiding Judge in the Civil Division, and in January, 1997, I assumed responsibility as Presiding Judge. Throughout the organization and early implementation of the conversion to individual calendars, I served as a responsible participant in a process which resulted in reduction of the civil case backlog from over 30,000 cases to under 8,000 cases; and a reduction in delay from filing to trial from three-five years to approximately two years.
When I assumed responsibilities as Presiding Judge, most of the reorganization work had been done, and my efforts were directed at maintaining the currency of Civil Division operations. This effort included negotiating for a consensus among all of the civil judges to use a single calendar procedural order; so that lawyers practicing before the Civil Division would not have to address more than a dozen different orders which varied in confusing ways. I also developed and implemented a certificate of readiness calendar designed to correct lagging compliance with readiness requirements for participation in the mediation mandated in the substantial majority of civil cases.
During my term as Presiding Judge, the Division was often understaffed, with, at one point four judges absent due to retirement and illness. It is a reflection of the level of dedication and commitment to the concept of effective individual calendar management on the part of judges and staff that at no time did the Division fall significantly behind in disposing of cases. I look on my contributions to the design and operation of the Civil Division as among the most satisfying and important during my service on the Court, and as directly relevant to the challenges I would face as chief judge.
A second area in which I have been involved is the improvement of technological support for judges on the Superior Court. In 1986, at my urging, then Chief Judge Ugast created the Superior Court Committee on Technology and Automation, a new standing committee, whose purpose was to bring judicial input into decisions about technology upgrades that immediately affected judges. The Committee has worked with administrative and executive staff to improve computer services during a period when the Court has moved from an early, non-network, non-IBM compatible word processing system to a current, Pentium-based IBM compatible network, which is much more nearly commensurate with comparable technological support enjoyed by the bar and other court systems. Following attendance at the most recent National Court Technology Conferences, I participated in the organization of, and now chair an ad hoc Technology Committee whose focus is broadened to include upgrading and integrating our different databases so as to anticipate a move to electronic filing and to better support critical information availability.
More recently, I have worked as Chair of the Policy and Budget Subgroup of the Information Technology Group within the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. The Council, organized in 1997, is addressing under one umbrella organization, all of the criminal justice issues facing the various agencies of the District of Columbia government. A key component of its mission is to work for the improvement of information technology in the several criminal justice agencies in a coordinated and mutually beneficial way. As Chair of the Policy and Budget Subgroup, I helped draft arid obtain agreement to a cooperation agreement among the different agencies, including the Court, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, the Corporation Counsel's Office and others. The agreement committed the agencies to better coordinate an approach to the year 2000 problem and now to the longer range challenge of improving database management and information exchange among them. The Subgroup has been reorganized into an Information Technology Advisory Committee to the Council and is providing assistance with implementation of the cooperation agreement. Though still in its early stages, development of a citywide integrated justice information system is of great significance to the city, and I am honored to have the opportunity to play a role in moving it forward and maintaining.a leadership position for the Court.
Beginning in 1988, I assumed the Chair of the Superior Court Child Support Guideline Committee, the group tasked with implementing the requirements of the 1984 amendments to the Social Security Act to require a guideline for setting child support awards in domestic relations and support cases. Through two years of meetings, the Committee generated a revised guideline which stands out in the nation as among the most finely tuned to particular expenses and assets involved in setting child support awards. The Committee issued its revised guideline on October 11, 1989. On October 13, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals issued its decision in Fitzgerald v. Fitzgerald, 566 A.2d 719 (D.C.1989) striking down the guideline as inconsistent with existing law. Thereafter, the guideline was referred to the City Council, which adopted the Committee's product almost verbatim (now found at D.C. Code § 16-916.1). The guideline has profoundly changed the litigation of child support issues, virtually eliminating the expensive and unpredictable course these cases used to take.
As an outgrowth of my work with the child support guideline, I became involved in initiating a project at the American Law Institute on the Law of Family Dissolution. This project sought to simplify, and to a limited extent codify, the law of property division and support and custody determinations. From the vantage point of the bench and my involvement in the Domestic I calendar and the Child Support Guideline Committee, I assisted in putting together a judges' advisory group consisting of leading family court judges from around the country. This project has resulted in a clear and reasoned statement of principles which will substantially aid students and practitioners of family law.
In 1996, I assumed the Chair of the District of Columbia Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, an umbrella group whose function was to provide a forum for exchange of ideas and coordination of effort among the various agencies involved in combating domestic violence in the District of Columbia. My tenure began as the Council had settled on its organization structure and was just beginning the task of developing the Council into a useful forum for coordination of the effort to change the official response to domestic violence. During my tenure as chair, the Council oversaw a number of projects, the most important of which was the creation of a Domestic Violence Unit in the Superior Court. This unit brought together many parts of the system into a single intake center; so that. complainants would be able to seek assistance of the Court with one or two interviews instead of many at different agencies. It also brought together criminal, civil and domestic cases under one administrative structure, with the result that judges could more easily coordinate procedures and orders in different cases involving the same parties. The leadership of Chief Judge Hamilton in supporting and then accelerating and spearheading development of the Unit remains a model for effective administration. The result has been a dramatic increase in the caseload, reflecting a heightened level of confidence in the ability of the police and the courts to respond effectively to this problem. More importantly, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of homicides by domestic partners since the Unit began operating.
Each of these projects has required working with, and in many cases leading, a diverse group of judges, other professionals and staff to accomplish goals of lasting benefit to the Court.
For a trial judge, an important and gratifying part of service on the bench is the just resolution of cases. While the vast majority of trial court decisions are oral, or written transcriptions of oral orders, I have set forth brief descriptions of a representative sample of unpublished, written orders.
In the Matter of Amelia Scott, Super Ct.D.C. SP 379-85 March 14, 1985
This order imposed a civil contempt sanction against a police officer who appeared in court seemingly under the influence of narcotics. The order was affirmed on other grounds.
Foreman v. Foreman, Super Ct.D.C. D 156-85 October 17, 1985
This order upheld a property division agreement against allegations of fraudulent inducement and exploitation of one party's inability to read. The order was not appealed.
Artis v. Uchida Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Super Ct.D.C. CA 12754-93
This order reviewed a products liability claim and granted summary judgment based upon lack of expert testimony as to a commercially feasible alternative product design. The order was not appealed.
I have published 15 decisions in the Washington Law Reporter, which are also listed with short, identifying memos.
U.S. v. Wright, 114 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 1205 (D.C.Super.Ct. June 13, 1986)
The complainant in a robbery case was a resident of Forest Haven, the District of Columbia's facility for the mentally retarded. The opinion discussed and ultimately granted a defense subpoena duces tecum permitting inspection but not copying the complainant's medical records on grounds that the Sixth Amendment due process right of confrontation required it. The order was not appealed.
Pearsall v. Alexander, 115 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 1521 (D.C.Super.Ct. July 23, 1987)
This opinion interpreted the Statute of Ann, D.C. Code §16-1701 as prohibiting enforcement of an agreement to split the winnings of a jointly purchased lottery ticket. Reversed on appeal.
Wallace v. Occupant, 115 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 2377 (D.C.Super.Ct.. November 9, 1987)
An unrecorded lease for eight years was superseded by a recorded deed issued pursuant to a foreclosure sale, notwithstanding the provisions of the Rental Housing Accommodations Act, D.C. Code §45-306, requiring a notice to quit which may only be issued on limited grounds. The order was not appealed.
Rapid Rentals, Inc. v. Myers, 115 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 2453 (D.C.Super.Ct. November 19, 1987)
Service by publication pursuant to D.C. Code 13-336(b)(8) was denied where the only basis for jurisdiction was the existence of a District of Columbia automobile liability insurance policy. The order was not appealed.
O'Bryant v. O'Bryant, 116 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 1901 (D.C.Super.Ct. September 14, 1988)
An order granting the family residence to the wife in partial fulfillment of the husband's child support obligation was implemented without stay pending appeal. The stay of judgment provisions of SCR Family Rule 62 did not apply to injunctions. The order was affirmed on appeal.
Patterson v. District of Columbia. 117 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 741 (D.C.Super.Ct. April 13, 1989)
(See discussion below, in the narrative portion of this Memorandum.)
District of Columbia. Ex Rel. K.K. v. W.C.R., 117 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 1373 (D.C.Super.Ct. July 5, 1989)
This order held that the recently adopted Superior Court Child Support Guideline had the force of a court rule, and reversed an order by a hearing commissioner declining to apply the guideline. The order was not appealed.
De La Croix De LaFayette v. De La Croix De Lafayette Lafayette 117 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 2133 (D.C.Super.Ct. October 16, 1989)
Plaintiff's claim for damages based upon intentional torts which occurred more than one year prior to filing was dismissed as beyond the statute of limitations. A claim of ongoing emotional distress was held to be limited by the statutes of limitation applicable to the individual acts upon which the emotional distress claim was based. The order was not appealed.
Soresi v. Cathie Gill, Inc., 117 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 2620 (D.C.Super.Ct. December 21, 1989)
A claim for breach of contract and fiduciary duty was rejected where plaintiffs had enjoyed a financial gain as a result of the defendant's actions. The order was not appealed.
Goodrich v. District of Columbia, 118 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 217 (D.C.Super.Ct. February 1, 1990)
This order rejected an argument that because a speed limit was not usually enforced it could not be enforced, The order was not appealed.
Double H Housing Corp. v. Moss, 118 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 1473 (D.C.Super.Ct. July 6, 1990)
This order held that a waiver of notice to quit required by D.C. Code §451402 contained in a lease did not constitute a waiver of the termination notice required by federal regulations (24 C.F.R. §247.4) applicable to federally subsidized housing. The order was not appealed.
Carr v. District of Columbia, 118 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 1937 (D.C.Super.Ct. September 5, 1990)
In this case, the District of Columbia seized property in enforcement of a tax lien against tenants of premises owned by plaintiffs. The order held that storage and occupancy by the District of Columbia against the will of the plaintiffs constituted a taking for which plaintiffs were entitled to compensation. The order was reversed on appeal.
District of Columbia v. Amsat Communications. Inc., 118 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 2257 (D.C.Super.Ct. October 16, 1990)
This order held that the District of Columbia could prohibit operation of a cable television system contrary to the grant of an exclusive franchise, notwithstanding the plaintiff s system was in operation prior to creation of the exclusive franchise in the D.C. Cable Television Act of 1981 (D.C. Code §43-1801). This order was not appealed.
Brown v. Neurodiagnostic Associates, P.C., 121 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 145 (D.C.Super.Ct. January 27, 1993)
This order granted a post-trial challenge (based upon Batson v. Kentucky, 4476 U.S. 79 (1986) to the racial composition of the jury in a medical malpractice case and ordered a new trial. The case was settled without appeal.
Hoover v. Fried, Frank, Harris. Shriver & Jacobson, 121 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 1373 (D.C.Super.Ct. July 7, 1993)
This order arose from a claim of legal malpractice in that the defendant law firm failed to file a timely notice of appeal from an award by the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation of a group of savings and loans pursuant to 12 U.S. C. §1730a (repealed in 1989). Prior to trial there needed to be a determination whether an appeal to the appropriate federal circuit court of appeals, if timely noted, would have been successful. The order addressed the merits of the appeal and held the appeal was without merit and that the case should be dismissed. The order was affirmed on appeal.
Bahura v. S.E.W. Investors, 124 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 401 (D.C.Super.Ct. March 4, 1996)
This order reviewed evidence of toxic substance exposure in a "sick building" case and held insufficient the showing of causal connection between the proved exposure and the medical harm complained of.
Highlights (of Cases)
To select two matters, from many of particular interest, I will describe Patterson v. District of Columbia, et al.. 117 Daily Wash.L.Rptr. 741 (D.C.Super.Ct. April 13, 1989) and the Haft cases.
The plaintiffs in Patterson challenged the statutory scheme providing for civil forfeiture of automobiles allegedly used in committing drug offenses under the Civil Forfeiture Act of 1981 (D.C. Code §33-552). After lengthy motions hearings, I held the basic forfeiture scheme survived constitutional challenge, but the failure of the Act to provide an early opportunity to question the reasonableness of warrantless seizures of automobiles offended the Fourth Amendment proscription against " unreasonable searches and seizures. This holding was not challenged in an appeal on other issues (District of Columbia v. Patterson, 667 A.2d 1338 (D.C.1995)).
A second matter involved the pretrial preparation and ultimate settlement of the divorce and commercial litigation among members of the Haft family. Faced with a divorce case in the Family Division of the Superior Court and commercial cases in the Civil Division of the Superior Court and the Circuit Court in Rockville, the three judges involved, the late Judge Harriet Taylor, Judge Vince Ferretti and I, met to coordinate regulation of discovery and timing of settlement discussions. Judge Taylor and I then transferred the Superior Court cases to her calendar for formal trial preparation and to mine for a structured mediation effort. Ultimately the judicial teamwork resulted in a settlement which brought to a close an important part of a dispute which affected hundreds of millions of dollars in property and tens of millions of dollars in litigation expense and legal fees.
General Administrative Considerations
The Superior Court is in a unique position among state trial courts. Although its funding is now federal and it must work with other federal agencies including the United States Attorney's Office and the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, the Superior Court is, first .and foremost, a District of Columbia court. Its primary mission is to serve the residents of the District of Columbia by rendering prompt and just decisions, promptly and accurately recording those decisions and fairly and effectively implementing them. All of the Court's activities must be measured by how well it carries out those tasks.
The chief judge's primary duty is to lead an effective administration of the Court and to develop and maintain good working relations with authorities in Congress and at OMB as well as with the Mayor and the City Council especially its chair and the chair of the Committee on the Judiciary. Within the Court, the chief judge must be able to work cooperatively with each of the judges and senior staff and must be accessible to all court personnel. The chief should represent the court in the community and encourage other judges and staff to take active roles in the community both inside and outside of the legal profession.
With these general considerations in mind, some general practices suggest themselves. Many of these are already in place and should be continued. Others should be instituted.
I would revitalize a practice followed by Chief Judge Moultrie of quietly being available at regular times for unscheduled visits by anyone within the Court or by any bar member. Without compromising administrative lines of authority, the chief should be open to suggestions from within and outside the court.
There should be regular meetings with senior administrators which should include regular, probably monthly, fiscal status discussions; so that any disparities between available appropriations and spending can be addressed early.
As has been the practice in the recent past, the chief judge should encourage and approve requests by judges and senior staff to take reasonable amounts of leave for public service activities.
Apart from these general practices, there are some particular areas where the Court is faced with challenges the next chief judge will be called upon to address.
Financial. The Court is facing a difficult time of reduced budgets, government-wide concern for more efficient use of taxpayer resources and a relatively new relationship to its funding authority. With the OMB now directly involved in the budget process and federal procedures imposing new requirements on the Court, I believe it is vital for the next chief judge to continue recent efforts to establish open and receptive relations with the relevant authorities at OMB. When questions are raised about use of court funds, as they inevitably will be, the Court must be able to address them in a spirit of cooperation to the extent consistent with independence of the judiciary. No general area of concern can have a higher priority in the coming few years.
One of the most important steps in establishing a relationship of cooperation with relevant funding authorities is competent, long range planning. A strategic plan for the next five years should be undertaken right away, to identify areas for improving court management. Existing draft plans should be taken as a starting point, and a court-wide strategic plan should be prepared as a blueprint for improvements and new initiatives and to monitor performance. The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 requires five year strategic plans periodically updated. While this act exempts the judiciary, the Administrative Office of the Courts has modeled some of its budget submissions and discussions on its requirements. We could well do the same, always with caution to preserve judicial independence.
The need for strategic planning is particularly acute at a time of reduced staff. Overall, the court staff has been reduced by approximately 200 employees. Although some of these reductions can be absorbed by improvements in court technology, there will always be a need for courteous, professional service to the public which cannot be provided by too few employees spread too thinly. Staff size should be a priority in budget negotiations.
The single specific financial issue which most needs to be addressed is employee salaries. A comparability study showing our, employees are now 19% behind federal workers doing comparable work is but one indicator of the impact of several years without even cost of living adjustments. While pursuing this issue both within the court administration and at OMB requires the utmost sensitivity and care, it is a matter of immediate importance. Ongoing efforts in this area should be encouraged and built upon by establishing and maintaining working relationships on Capitol Hill and at OMB.
Ongoing efforts to plan and implement a court-wide upgrade of technology, identified more specifically below, will require a very substantial commitment of funding over several years. This effort must be' carefully planned, with the aid of credible consultants to provide a number of alternatives depending on available funding.
A number of initiatives which have been undertaken on the basis of grant funding must be permanently funded. The Domestic Violence Unit, for example, has been funded in significant part by the Byrne Grant. Some of this funding is available in mufti year cycles, but some of it will end and will need to be replaced.
The Court's physical plant has been used by more than 10,000 people per day for almost 25 years. Its upkeep and renovations are a constant concern, lest the appearance of neglected buildings affect the vital work that goes on within.
The Criminal Justice Act system for funding defense of indigent defendants absorbs a relatively large portion of the Court's overall funding - nearly a quarter of the annual budget. Quite apart from the need for substantive reform of the voucher review process mentioned below, this operation needs to be looked at in terms of bringing predictability to the funding requirements and efforts to obtain adequate funding independent of other needs of the court system.
All of the financial needs of the Court are interwoven with administrative concerns, but as the Court and OMB become more accustomed to working together, there is a real opportunity for addressing funding issues with some expectation of success.
Technology. All technology improvement has as its purpose helping the Court's judicial officers and staff better fulfill their mission of serving the bar and the public. Much of the Court's technology infrastructure is outdated, having been developed in a piecemeal fashion over a number of years. Parts of the systems in use today the central recording system for example - were very advanced when installed, but have not been maintained on a current basis. Others have been developed in response to a short term need, and lack the benefit of systematic design and function.
The most critical need for improvement, when and as it can be accomplished, is in the Court's information storage and retrieval system. At present there are 18 separate databases for the different operating and. support divisions of the Court. None of them are interconnected, and many are arcane and difficult to use for all but the most dedicated information technology experts. This was particularly evident during the organization of the Domestic Violence Unit, whose effectiveness relies in part on quick, simultaneous access to data from criminal, family and civil cases. All of the Court's databases need to be updated and interconnected; so that occasional users can efficiently obtain information necessary to decision making and court administration. There is currently a needs analysis under way, which is the first step to reforming the information technology. There will follow a design stage, with both process design and software systems design to establish a court-wide system easily accessible to all users. Finally, there will need to be an upgrading of hardware to run the new system. This initiative will require several years, both for the work and to fund the project, but it is essential to the smooth operation of the Court in the future, and it should be a priority in planning and in budget negotiations.
In addition to upgrading the Court's own system, the City, through the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, is embarking on a project to develop a much enhanced capacity for all of the city agencies involved in criminal justice administration to share data quickly and effectively - with automatic notifications to interested officials, for example. From the beginning of the Council's work in this area, the Court has taken a leadership role in pressing for advances. As this project moves forward, there will be a continued opportunity for the Court to shape the project and to work cooperatively with the Metropolitan Police and the many other agencies involved. The project will take several years and require substantial funding, but the project has begun auspiciously, with a high level of cooperation among the many agencies involved.
With little additional cost, and using technology already available, the process for auditing and approving CJA vouchers could be automated using electronic forms. This would reduce delay ire. processing and increase the effectiveness of audits and reviews by allowing comparison of vouchers, and there is no need to await completion of systemic reforms now under consideration.
The Court has opened a web page, which is hosted by the DC Bar as a public service project. At some point the Court should bring its web page in house, but for now, I would support continued development of the substance of our web page to include more forms, rules, case reports and information about the Court. Moving the web page inside the Court will require funding and additional staff, which in my view are of secondary priority relative to other needs.
A pilot project to prove the feasibility of electronic filing for the Court is being undertaken now, and will be ready for operation later this year. The project will provide for filing pleadings and other papers over the internet in Civil I cases. I believe the concept has a great potential for improving the efficiency and accuracy of maintaining dockets and records of case pleadings. Especially in the high volume courts, where many litigants appear gyro se, the assistance now provided by the clerk will be simpler and less subject to error through inaccurate docket entries and lost papers. This pilot should be encouraged as much as possible, consistent with development of the court-wide integrated database.
In order to make the most of improvements in technology, staff must be provided training to the point where they become comfortable with taking advantage of enhanced capabilities. The proper training is essential not only to proficiency in job performance, but to job satisfaction and investment in jobs which may be substantially altered by automation. An important example is the development of electronic filing, described above. In addressing the pilot project, staff were eager to learn the process and to participate, but they must be provided adequate training within the Court, and occasionally at conferences, to maintain their satisfaction and ability to successfully implement the change in clerk's office procedures.
When it was installed in the late 1970's, the central recording system for taking the record was the advanced state of the art. Since, then, its infrastructure has become obsolete and difficult to maintain and repair. Several years ago, a new, digital recording system was installed, but not all of the renovations of the cabling, microphones and other infrastructure components have been completed which are necessary to fully realize the benefits of the new system. Especially problematic are poor microphone pickup and delays in gaining access to recordings more than a few days old or obtaining transcripts from the digital recordings. Improvements to this system should be a priority in budget planning and requests.
Closely related is a pilot project to prove the advantages of real time reporting. Two years ago, a draft plan to retrain existing court reporting staff to real time capability was proposed in the Court Reporting Division. This plan should be looked at again and considered for implementation. The future of court reporting appears to be moving in the direction of more use of real time reporting in complex matters and more reliance on automated recording for less complex hearings. The court should consider moving with that trend.
General. The most important task for the chief judge with respect to the divisions and branches of the Court is to provide leadership and guidance to judges and staff within each division. The current arrangement for a presiding and deputy presiding judge to be assigned in each division for terms of two years is working well and should be continued. The relatively short term of two years provides opportunities for a number of judges to participate in the administration of the Court, and maintains fresh perspective within the divisions. The practice of having regular meetings of the presiding and deputy presiding judges should be continued, although I believe the judges should not be involved in the purely administrative side of division operations, such as personnel matters and budget preparation. This involvement was appropriate during the-period of intense audit scrutiny by the GAO, but as the audits wind down and the budget process with OMB becomes more familiar, those support functions should be returned to the executive office. The `cabinet' of judges should, instead, meet more informally to set policy or to address the impact on judges of administrative issues, such as court-wide staff reductions or temporary shortages. It is in these meetings that the chief judge has the greatest responsibility for consensus building and mediating conflicts among divisions.
In addition to the general task of overseeing general policy direction, there are issues within each division which can be addressed.
Family Division. The family division is where some of the most important work of the Court is carried out. It is where children and youth become involved in the court system; therefore, it is where the Court can make the most difference in the future of the community. Recent initiatives have proven helpful in meeting the challenge of families and youth in distress and should be continued and built upon. The juvenile drug court has shown some of the benefits of prompt and flexible intervention in the lives of juveniles involved in drug abuse and entry level trafficking. The distribution of abuse and neglect cases among all of the judges for review and supervision has proven a highly effective use of very limited judicial resources. The Adoption and Safe Families Act imposes shorter time deadlines for reaching a permanent placement decision, and this may reduce the number of cases requiring long time supervision, but to the extent consistent with those requirements, the cases should be circulated in such a manner as to encourage relationships between children and a single judge.
For the Family Division an important next step is a review of its organization. Both the Civil Division and the Criminal Division have had reorganizations after review by bench - bar committees. Because the calendars in the Family Division serve very diverse purposes, the structure of the division should be reviewed from top to bottom. I would work with the presiding judge to convene an ad hoc committee to look at the structure with a fresh perspective and with a commitment that the office of the chief judge would support the committee's efforts to implement improvements.
Among the most critical needs of the Division is for development of a completely revised information technology system. Many of the cases involve families whose members have cases on different calendars. Simple access to complete information relating to different types of cases is a critical need for judges considering family cases, more critical than in either the Civil or Criminal Division. As development of the integrated database management system referred to above moves forward, I would place the Family Division in the first priority.
The child support collection system is now by statute required to be managed by an independent agency; so that the Court is in the untenable position of having to collect the payments without having control over the accounting system for disbursements. Changing this back may require legislation, but it should be a priority to bring all of the responsibility and control into one office. Efficient management of child support collections and disbursements is vital to serving the needs of families subject to the Court's jurisdiction and is required in order to avoid loss of federal funds.
The CCAN function is currently being reviewed by an independent consultant in order to address questions of standards of proficiency and improvement of payment procedures. This examination should be continued to a conclusion. In any event, as in the case of vouchers issued under the CJA, the process of auditing and approving CJA vouchers can be relatively easily and inexpensively automated. This should be done as soon as is feasible, both to reduce delay in review and approval and to increase the effectiveness of audits .
Domestic Violence Unit. The Domestic Violence Unit, organized in 1997, has seen an increased number of cases new to the court system. It has been very successful in simplifying the intake process for persons seeking protective orders or assistance from prosecutors. Elevating the unit to the status of a division of the Court is now being discussed and should be pursued. The cases are of a unique pattern and require technical support which should be developed in conjunction with improving the technology infrastructure of the Family Division. Some of the intake center funding has come from the Byrne Grant and other grant sources. As much as possible of this funding should now be made a regular budget item.
Criminal Division. The most critical issue facing the Criminal Division is the payment of lawyers under the Criminal Justice Act. I belie the funding for this function should, to the extent possible, be separated from other budget issues and managed as a separate budget item. There is also an ongoing effort to reexamine the method of review and payment. This has been the subject of consideration by a court committee for many years, but it has recently been given to an ad hoc committee for a fresh attempt to speed up the process for approving vouchers and to bring predictability to the budget demands for the criminal defense function. There should be renewed consideration of whether the monitoring of vouchers could not better be accomplished by an independent auditing office with a bar committee in oversight than by the current system of approval by judges. There is an inherent appearance of conflict between the judge's role as reviewer of counsel's compensation and the judge's role, I believe, as decision maker, where the same counsel's duty of zealous advocacy is not always consistent with the ease and comfort of trial judges. A process in which approval of vouchers by professional auditors according to guidelines for different categories of representation would better assure prompt review and payment in the vast majority of cases. The judge's role, I believe, would best be limited to resolving disputes rather than serving as auditors in the first instance. The current ad hoc committee should be empowered to bring its work to a conclusion with implementation of recommended changes. Similarly, the current effort to introduce some standards for appointment pursuant to the CJA to represent indigent defendants is well undertaken and should be brought to a completion.
The Criminal Division will be directly and immediately affected by the interagency justice information system now being developed by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Quickly available information is essential to the pretrial and probation supervision of defendants. The collaboration between the Court and other agencies will significantly advance the effectiveness of court supervision of offenders in the community. The Division must constantly review the profile of its new cases. A recent downward trend in certain violent offenses and the ever changing profile of drug abusers and traffickers should continue to be reviewed in order to assure the best possible allocation of resources within the Division.
Civil Division. As the division most recently overhauled, there is relatively little change that cannot be met by active support of the presiding and deputy presiding judges and staff in their management activities. The need for judicial resources felt by the Court generally is especially applicable to the Small Claims court, where a full complement of hearing commissioners is essential for the daily completion of the trial docket. Judicial resources are always at a premium, but inability to reach cases in Small Claims court affects a large number of people who can least afford to come to court repeatedly in order for their cases to be reached.
Probate and Tax Division. The Probate and Tax Division has initiated its own information technology reform. This should be integrated with the court-wide project and brought to a completion. The work of the Division is capable of being automated to provide both support to judicial officers and support for case processing and auditing. In an era when more is expected of fiduciaries with less supervision, the Division can provide' more assistance to the public by easily implemented automatic procedures and reports. In dealing with a relatively small bar, the division is particularly well situated to exploit the capacity of the Court's web site for providing and ultimately the filing of required forms and reports.
From the first day of my tenure on the bench, service as a judge has been a deeply rewarding honor and pleasure. Providing a calm and just e= forum for resolution of disputes is one of the very highest callings in the legal profession, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as a judge. If afforded the opportunity to serve as the Court's chief, I would look forward to the opportunity to advance some of the initiatives and policies described in this memorandum, and to assist other judges and staff in the provision of a calm and just forum for decisions in cases, one at a time. I therefore respectfully submit my application for appointment as Chief Judge of the Superior Court.
District of Columbia Courts
SUPERIOR COURT ASSOCIATE JUDGE RUFUS G. KING, III TO BE SWORN IN AS COURT'S CHIEF JUDGE
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Superior Court Associate Judge Rufus G. King, III will be sworn in as the Court's Chief Judge in a ceremony on Friday, September 29, 2000, at 3 p.m., in the third floor atrium of the H. Carl Moultrie I Courthouse, 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. Chief Judge Eugene N. Hamilton will preside; District of Columbia Court of Appeals Senior Judge William C. Pryor will administer the Oath of Office. Judge King will assume office on October 1, 2000 following the retirement of Chief Judge Hamilton, who will assume Senior Judge status. Chief Judge Hamilton will have completed seven years as Chief Judge of the Court.
Judge King was born in New Haven, Connecticut on June 16, 1942. He grew up in the Washington area, graduating from the Landon School in 1960. In 1966, Judge King received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University. While attending the Georgetown University Law Center, he clerked for Judge Austin L. Fickling of the District of Columbia Court of General Sessions, and for Judge William C. Pryor of the Court of General Sessions and its successor, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He received the J.D. degree in 1971, and was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in that year. He was admitted to the Supreme Court Bar in 1975 and the Maryland State Bar in 1984.
Following his clerkships, he entered the private practice of law with the firm of Karr and Greensfelder (now Karr and McLain). There, he began a general litigation practice which included significant civil and criminal trial work in the Superior Court as well as in nearby state and federal courts. In 1973, he joined Rolinson, Long. & Stein (now Sills & Brodsky) and from there joined his father, Rufus King, Esquire, in practice. In 1977, they formed a partnership, King & King, which was later expanded to the firm of King & Newmyer. In 1983, the firm merged with Berliner & Maloney where he was a partner and practiced until his appointment as an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in 1984.
Since his appointment, Judge King has served in all of the various Divisions of the Court, except Probate and Tax, including an extensive term, from 1990 until 1998, in the Civil Division. After serving for two years as Deputy Presiding Judge he was appointed Presiding Judge of the Civil Division from 1997 until 1998. His responsibilities as Presiding Judge included overseeing the day-to-day management of the Division. It also included chairing its management and policy body, the Civil Implementation Group and the Civil Rules Advisory Committee, which is responsible for recommending rules changes.
While on the Court, Judge King has chaired the Committee on Technology and Automation since its establishment in 1986 and continues to serve in that capacity. He also teaches the course on Introduction to Computers at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. Judge King also chaired the Superior Court Child Support Guideline Committee and the D.C. Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. He co-chaired the Committee on Cameras in Court and from 1988 to 1990, he served on the Court's Training Committee. Moreover, he has chaired the Information and Technology Advisory Committee of the D.C. Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
Judge King is a member of the American Bar Association, the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, the Washington Bar Association, the Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution, the Barristers, and the American Law Institute.
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