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NAWJ Honors Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby With Edna G. Parker Award

By Tracy Schorn

November 17, 2017

Credit: Jasmine Turner/D.C. Courts

D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby (second from right) was honored with the Edna G. Parker Award by the National Association of Women Judges District Four. Among those who came out to the awards reception were (from left) Judge Julie E. Frantz of the Multnomah County Circuit Court in Oregon; Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; New York State Supreme Court Justice Tanya Kennedy; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; and D.C. Superior Court Associate Judge Heidi M. Pasichow.

D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby was honored by the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) District Four with its Edna G. Parker Award on November 2 “for her exemplary contribution to public service and for her leadership in the community.”

Among those who celebrated Blackburne-Rigsby’s achievement was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who described the chief judge as a “trailblazer.” Blackburne-Rigsby is only the third woman to serve as chief judge of the Court of Appeals.

Credit: Jasmine Turner/D.C. CourtsSotomayor noted how, under Blackburne-Rigsby’s leadership, access to the new D.C. Courts website has been improved, with a special section added for pro se litigants.

Sotomayor also remarked on how gratifying it was to see such a large gathering of women judges. “When I was growing up there were no women Supreme Court justices in the United States” and you could count the women judges in New York state “on one hand,” said Sotomayor.

Other speakers at the event included Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, D.C. Superior Court Associate Judge Heidi Pasichow, and the evening’s surprise guest, Judge Julie E. Frantz of the Multnomah County Circuit Court in Oregon.

Howell commended Blackburne-Rigsby for her 21 years of service on the D.C. Courts, supporting “equal access to justice for all.”

“I admire how she is humble, [how she] reaches back to lift others as she climbed,” said Howell.

In presenting the award, Frantz, former NAWJ president, concurred that “[Blackburne-Rigsby] is everywhere and she never says no.”

Blackburne-Rigsby did, however, say yes to the Edna G. Parker Award, presented bi-annually by the NAWJ to honor the memory of a legend in D.C. legal and judicial circles. Parker served as U.S. Tax Court judge from 1977 to 1995.

In accepting the award, Blackburne-Rigsby thanked her staff, family, and “personal she-ro,” Justice Sotomayor.