The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission (“Commission”) has designated the Honorable Anita Josey-Herring to serve as Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (“Superior Court”). Judge Josey-Herring will assume the office on October 1, 2020.
The Commission considered three highly qualified candidates for the position of Chief Judge: the Honorable Anita Josey-Herring, the Honorable Milton C. Lee, Jr., and the Honorable Lynn Leibovitz. Each candidate has served the Superior Court with distinction and brings a wealth of experience and commitment to the Superior Court. The Superior Court and the residents of the District of Columbia are fortunate that such talented and committed individuals were willing to take on the additional duties and responsibilities of Chief Judge, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the court’s operations and procedures.
In making this designation, the Commission carefully considered the results of each candidate’s background investigation, interviews, public comments, and statement of interest. The Commission also took into consideration each candidate’s experience, qualifications, judicial temperament, interest and experience in Court administration, ethics, commitment to diversity, leadership skills, ability to advocate for and promote confidence in the Court system, intellectual leadership, and vision for the Court, including plans for addressing the unique challenges facing the Court during this four-year term.
The Commission invited public comment on each candidate, and it is pleased to note that it received more than 600 letters, evaluations, and calls from members of the bench, bar, and community, including more than 100 non-judicial employees of the Superior Court. The Commission expresses its sincere appreciation to all those who took the time to submit the many thoughtful and insightful comments that were received.
Some of the most serious concerns raised through the public comment process focused on: rules and procedures that undermine access to justice for litigants in the Court’s high-volume, predominantly pro se calendars; the safety of Superior Court staff and the public during the coronavirus pandemic; and the need to increase the sense of trust and confidence in the Court across all communities in the District. The Commission sees these concerns as among the highest priorities for the Court, and has communicated this to Judge Josey-Herring.
Judge Josey-Herring has devoted her legal career to serving the citizens of the District of Columbia. Judge Josey-Herring obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, which she attended as an evening division student while working full-time. Following law school, Judge Josey-Herring served as a law clerk to the Honorable Herbert Dixon, Jr., on the Superior Court. She then joined the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia as a staff attorney, where she handled misdemeanor and complex felony cases in the Superior Court, and argued cases before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Judge Josey-Herring was ultimately appointed by the Board of Trustees of the Public Defender Service to the position of Deputy Director of the agency. In 1997, President William Jefferson Clinton appointed Judge Josey-Herring to serve as an Associate Judge on the Superior Court.
Since her appointment to the bench nearly twenty-three years ago, Judge Josey-Herring has served in the Family, Civil, and Criminal Divisions of the Superior Court. In 2000, Judge Josey-Herring was appointed by the Chief Judge to serve as the Deputy Presiding Judge of the Family Court, and she later served as the Presiding Judge of the Family Court from 2006 to 2008. Judge Josey-Herring has demonstrated exceptional leadership abilities throughout her tenure, and she has led numerous initiatives to improve the quality of justice and service to litigants and attorneys alike. For instance, as Deputy Presiding Judge of the Family Court, she participated in the development of the Family Court Transition Plan, which ultimately became a roadmap for the Family Court Act of 2001. Judge Josey-Herring also led the initiative to establish the highly-regarded Family Treatment Court, which provides comprehensive substance abuse treatment and social services to mothers or female caretakers charged with neglecting their children due to substance abuse. During her tenure on the Superior Court, Judge Josey-Herring has served on numerous committees, and she currently serves as the Chair of the Judicial Education and Training Committee and the Advisory Committee on Workplace Conduct.
Judge Josey-Herring has also demonstrated a strong dedication to community service and has participated in numerous activities to further the exposure and increase the knowledge of students at every level, ranging from grade school to law school.
In 2012, after completing her first fifteen-year term as an Associate Judge, Judge Josey-Herring was reappointed to a second term by the Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure. In reappointing her, that Commission included comments by former Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield, who reported that Judge Josey-Herring “has been an extremely dedicated member of the Superior Court bench, has an excellent reputation among her colleagues, and has been heavily involved in leadership positions at the Court.”
The many comments the Commission received regarding Judge Josey-Herring were similarly laudatory. Judge Josey-Herring is widely respected by colleagues, court staff, litigants, attorneys, public officials, and other members of the community, and she has been recognized for her leadership, intellect, temperament, integrity, commitment, and vision. Judge Josey-Herring has committed to working with all stakeholders—including litigants, citizens, employees, and private and public sector advocates—to improve access to justice, as well as achieve improvements in other areas identified by stakeholders. The Commission is confident that the Superior Court and the citizens of the District of Columbia will be well-served by Judge Josey-Herring’s extensive experience and impressive abilities.
The Commission extends its sincere thanks to Chief Judge Robert E. Morin for his outstanding service during his term as the Chief Judge of the Superior Court. Among his many accomplishments, Chief Judge Morin has encouraged diversity in leadership and has facilitated a strong sense of morale among Superior Court judges and non-judicial employees. Additionally, upon his retirement, Chief Judge Morin will have overseen the Superior Court through nearly seven months of the coronavirus pandemic. Under his leadership, the number of courtrooms able to operate fully remotely—including offering access to members of the public—increased quickly in response to the challenges presented by the pandemic. The Commission extends best wishes to him in his future endeavors.
Contact the Commission’s Executive Director for more information at (202) 879-0478 or [email protected].