The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission (the “Commission”) has redesignated the Honorable Anna Blackburne-Rigsby as Chief Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals (“Court of Appeals” or “Court”)) for a second consecutive four-year term. Pursuant to D.C. Code § 1-204.31(b), her term commences March 18, 2021.
In October 2020, the Commission issued a public notice that the four-year term of the Court of Appeals Chief Judge would expire on March 17, 2021. All judges in regular, active service on the Court of Appeals were invited to apply for consideration for a four-year designation as Chief Judge. Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby notified the Commission of her interest in being redesignated and submitted a Statement of Interest in support of her application for redesignation. The Commission invited public comment on her performance as Chief Judge and has carefully considered those comments, the results of a background investigation, and her Statement of Interest and Supplemental Materials supporting her application for redesignation. The Commission also considered her experience, qualifications, leadership abilities, administrative skills, ability to promote confidence in the Court, and her performance over the last four years. Finally, the Commission discussed with Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby her vision for the Court for the next four years, including plans for addressing the challenges facing the Court due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby chairs the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration, the policy-making body for the Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (collectively the “DC Courts” or “Courts”). She is also a member of the Conference of Chief Justices, serves on the Government Affairs Committee, co-chairs the Pandemic Rapid Response Team Workgroup, and chairs the Committee on Public Engagement, Trust, and Confidence. She served on the Conference’s Board of Directors from 2018 to 2020.
Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby has been guided in her decision-making by the DC Courts’ Vision articulated in the 2018-2022 Strategic Plan – Open to All, Trusted by All, Justice for All – and the goals and strategies outlined in the Strategic Plan, especially the goal of ensuring access to justice for all during the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under her leadership, and in fulfilling her dual responsibilities as Chief Judge and Chair of the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration, the Courts have pivoted to nearly 100 percent remote operations, revamping the website to provide up-to-date information to the public and vital information about Court operations. To ensure access to justice, the Courts established remote sites in all four quadrants of the city for users who do not have at-home Wi-Fi, access to a computer or laptop, or who do not feel comfortable participating in a court hearing from home. The Courts have leveraged technology and various virtual platforms to conduct meetings, hearings, and oral arguments remotely. In October 2020, the Court of Appeals administered its first-ever remote bar examination.
Over the past four years, the DC Courts have strived for more outreach, transparency, and public education through greater engagement with the community. These engagement efforts have focused on civic education about the judicial branch of government and the importance of a fair and responsive court system in sustaining our democracy. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court of Appeals Historic Courthouse hosted several student groups, including eighty elementary school children from DC Public Schools for the “History Plunge,” where student teams were mentored by DC Courts employees who helped them answer questions about the courts, civics, and history. The DC Courts also hosted students from Howard University Middle School for a “DC Courts Jeopardy” tournament, where the student teams learned about the Courts in a fun and engaging way through educational games on the role of the Courts. These outreach and engagement efforts also helped students see the Courts positively and exposed young people to careers in the law and court administration. The Court of Appeals continued its outreach and education efforts by holding oral arguments at local area law schools.
The Chief Judge has served and held offices in several judicial organizations throughout her judicial career. She currently chairs the Executive Committee of the District of Columbia Pretrial Services Agency and the National Association of Women Judges Strategic Planning Committee. She also serves on the Board of Managerial Trustees for the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) and serves on the Board of Directors for the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. In 2017, Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby presented a paper at the Summit of Women Judges and Prosecutors on Human Trafficking and Organized Crime hosted by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences at the Vatican. Through her work with these organizations, she has sought to promote the rule of law and equal access to justice.
The Chief Judge has volunteered on the DC Rape Crisis Board; she is the former President of the Washington, DC Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.; a member of the Washington, DC Chapter of the Links, Inc.; and a lifelong member of the NAACP. She served as a Sunday school teacher at Shiloh Baptist Church and coached the girls’ basketball team of St. Gabriel’s Church. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her legal, judicial, and community service, including being inducted into the Washington Bar Association Hall of Fame in 2017, and being honored as one of Washington, DC’s Most Powerful Women by the Washingtonian magazine in 2017 and 2019. Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby was named “2018 Woman Lawyer of the Year” by the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia; named the Washington Bar Association’s 2020 Charles Hamilton Houston Medallion of Merit recipient; awarded the American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Award Honoring Women in the Legal Profession in August 2020; and the National Association of Women Judges “Lady Justice Award” in October 2020.
Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby was appointed as a Magistrate Judge on the Superior Court in 1995, and in 2000, was appointed as an Associate Judge on the Superior Court. In 2006, she joined the Court of Appeals, and she began her first term as Chief Judge in 2017. Before joining the Court, she worked in private practice and served in the public sector. Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby served as both Special Counsel to the then-Corporation Counsel and Deputy Corporation Counsel in charge of the Family Services Division. She received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Duke University and her Juris Doctor from the Howard University School of Law.
Questions concerning the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission should be directed to the Executive Director at (202) 879-0478 or [email protected].
Members of the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission
Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan, Chair
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
United States Courthouse
333 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Mr. William Lucy
1831 Sudbury Lane, NW
Washington, DC 20012
John J. McAvoy, Esq.
3110 Brandywine Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Addy R. Schmitt, Esq.
Miller & Chevalier, Chtd.
900 16th Street, NW
Black Lives Matter Plaza
Washington, DC 20006
Benjamin F. Wilson, Esq.
Beveridge & Diamond, PC
1350 I St NW, #700
Washington, DC 20005
The Honorable Marie C. Johns
1400 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005-2403
Professor Deborah Epstein
Georgetown University Law Center
600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001