(Washington, DC) – Upon the expiration of the Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan's current and final term on the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission “the Commission” on December 31, 2022, the Commission acknowledges and thanks Judge Sullivan for his outstanding service and leadership on the Commission.
Judge Sullivan's Tenure on the Commission
Judge Sullivan has served on the Commission since 2001 and as its Chair since 2005. The Home Rule Act, D.C. Code § 1-204.34(b), provides that one member of the Commission shall be appointed by the chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and shall be an active or retired federal judge serving in the District of Columbia. Judge Sullivan was appointed to the Commission in 2001 by then-Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson and was subsequently reappointed by then Chief Judges Thomas F. Hogan, Royce C. Lamberth, and Richard W. Roberts.
Judge Sullivan brought unique and important perspectives to his work on the Commission. First, he was born, raised, and educated in the District of Columbia, attending D.C. public schools through elementary, middle, and high school and then graduating from Howard University and Howard University School of Law. After law school, Judge Sullivan worked at the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in the District of Columbia, then clerked on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia ("Superior Court"). Following his clerkship, Judge Sullivan practiced law in the District with the law firm Houston, Sullivan & Gardner, appearing before judges on the Superior Court and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ("Court of Appeals"), as well as the U.S. District Court. Judge Sullivan served as an Associate Judge on the Superior Court (1984-1991), the Court of Appeals (1991-1994), and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (1994-present). Prior to serving on the Judicial Nomination Commission, Judge Sullivan served on the District of Columbia Judicial Disabilities and Tenure Commission (1996-2001).
Judge Sullivan's Impact on the District's
Judiciary Through His Service on the Commission
The Commission is responsible for recommending to the President of the United States individuals of the highest qualifications for appointment as judges on the District of Columbia Courts. The Commission is also responsible for appointing the chief judge of the Court of Appeals and the Superior Court. As a member and Chair of the Commission, Judge Sullivan has worked tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of the District of Columbia. Over the past twenty-one years, Judge Sullivan has overseen the Commission's work to recommend hundreds of qualified individuals to the President of the United States for positions on the Court of Appeals and the Superior Court, resulting in fifty appointments to the Superior Court and twelve appointments to the Court of Appeals. Judge Sullivan personally attended almost every U.S. Senate confirmation hearing and court investiture ceremony for each of those judges. He has also led the Commission's process for designating the Chief Judges of both courts every four years, resulting in four designations for the Superior Court and five for the Court of Appeals.
Over the years, Judge Sullivan served with twenty-three different Commission members and worked with four Executive Directors and one Executive Assistant. He also worked productively with members of the White House Counsel's Office for four different administrations. He has testified on behalf of the Commission before the District of Columbia Council more than ten times.
While these numbers are impressive, they do not begin to tell the story of Judge Sullivan's impact on the Commission and the City's judiciary. During his tenure, Judge Sullivan transformed the Commission's operations. From the start of his role as Chair, Judge Sullivan set out to make the Commission's processes for identifying, evaluating, and recommending judicial candidates and designating chief judges more transparent, efficient, and effective, thereby enhancing the Commission's efforts to identify candidates of the highest quality to serve on the District of Columbia Courts. Some of these initiatives include:
- Exhaustive outreach to advance all aspects of diversity among applicants, including speaking to bar associations, speaking at the D.C. Bench and Bar conferences, dedicating countless hours to speak one-on-one with lawyers in the public and private sectors about potentially applying for a judicial position, publicizing vacancy announcements using a media listserv and GovDelivery, and more recently appearing in webinars and using social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
- In 2007, the Commission launched its website.
- In 2008, the Commission began publicly announcing the names of all applicants to fill vacancies on the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals and began widely soliciting input from the community on applicants' qualifications.
- In 2010, the Commission secured funding for a part-time employee to assist the Commission's Executive Director.
- In 2011, the Commission introduced and published an annual report that included all judicial recommendations, appointments, confirmations, and chief judge designations for both courts going back to the Commission's inception in 1975.
- In 2015, the Commission created a web-based applicant evaluation process to enable the public to provide comments easily on applicants' qualifications.
- Also in 2015, the Commission created a secure document portal to distribute application-related materials to improve efficiency and reduce the Commission's environmental impact.
- In 2016, the Commission began hosting open conference calls to explain the application process and answer questions from prospective applicants and the public.
- In 2019 and 2020, the Commission engaged in the public rulemaking process to address certain application and related procedures.
- In 2020, the Commission began accepting application materials electronically through a cost-effective and user-friendly web portal.
The impact of these various initiatives under Judge Sullivan's leadership is reflected in the diversity and caliber of the judges of the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals and is evident every day in the courtrooms of both courts.
When asked to reflect on his remarkable tenure on the Commission, Judge Sullivan said simply that "it has been a labor of love—a treasured opportunity to give back to the City and the Courts that I have always called home."
Marie Johns, who has served on the Commission with Judge Sullivan since 2017, noted, "it is impossible to imagine the Commission without Judge Sullivan. We all owe him immense gratitude for the countless ways he has served our community in this role. He will be deeply missed." Each of Judge Sullivan's fellow Commission members, as well as the Commission's Executive Director, Tracy Nutall, and Executive Assistant, Cecelia Harper, certainly share those sentiments.
Please direct any questions to the Commission's 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
Addy R. Schmitt, Esq.
Miller & Chevalier, Chtd.
900 16th Street, NW
Black Lives Matter Plaza
Washington, DC 20006
Benjamin F. Wilson, Esq.
7825 Orchid Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20012
The Honorable Marie C. Johns
1400 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005-2403
Vincent H. Cohen, Jr., Esq.
1900 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006-1110
Yaida O. Ford, Esq.
Ford Law Pros P.C.
1001 L Street, SE
Washington, DC, 20003
The Honorable Linda W. Cropp
4001 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20011