Washington Lawyer

Legal Beat

From Washington Lawyer, November 2008

By Kathryn Alfisi and Steven J. Stauffer

New Chief Judge Satterfield Promises ‘Teamwork’ Approach
satterfield Lee F. Satterfield, a native Washingtonian who has served on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia since 1992, was sworn in as chief judge of the court on September 24 before an audience of fellow judges, court employees, and dignitaries at the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse.

Former chief judge Rufus G. King III, whose resignation took effect September 30, presided and administered the oath-taking ceremony, which also featured remarks from D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray.

fenty“It’s a great honor to be here, not just because of your great record of achievement as a judge, not just because of your commitment to the residents of the District of Columbia, especially those who are less fortunate—the children who have come through the judicial system and the families you have helped through the family court—but as a person who has served on numerous committees, was always active in the community, and represents the very best of Washington, D.C.,” said Mayor Fenty, who also praised Judge King for his two-plus decades of service to the court.

Gray also congratulated King and called Satterfield “a person who has extraordinary leadership skills, a man of enormous intellect, a man who is grounded in the District of Columbia, a man of intense and immense integrity, a man of commitment, a man of vision, and frankly, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in the District of Columbia.”

After being sworn in as chief judge, Satterfield thanked his family, staff, and special guests in attendance and shared how he would begin his efforts as chief judge.

“There’s one question that I want to raise today that I’ll be asking myself and asking all of you as we go forward, and that is, How can we better serve this community?” Satterfield said before quoting from the Langston Hughes poem Freedom Plow. The poem, Satterfield said, addresses the question of whether it is better to dream alone or to have a community dream to work toward; whether it is better for us to take care of ourselves or to take care of each other.

“We have a better chance of serving the community if we work as a team; teamwork is very important,” he added. “I’m going to be counting on everyone to take that extra step as part of a team, to give each other the benefit of the doubt as part of a team, and to work together collectively to build this court and community to a place where we think it should be.”—K.A.

Bar to Conduct Judicial Evaluations
The D.C. Bar Judicial Evaluation Committee has kicked off its 2008 evaluation program where selected attorneys are invited to provide feedback on the performance of 24 judges presiding over the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the Court of Appeals.

The 5,322 attorneys selected to participate have appeared before the judges in the 24-month period prior to the evaluation (July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2008). Attorneys can submit a hard copy or online response until November 21. All attorneys will remain anonymous.

The following D.C. Court of Appeals judges will be evaluated: James A. Belson, Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, John W. Kern III, Frank Q. Nebeker, Inez Smith Reid, John M. Steadman, Phyllis D. Thompson, and Annice M. Wagner.

The following D.C. Superior Court judges will be evaluated: Jennifer A. Anderson, Ronna Lee Beck, James E. Boasberg, Patricia A. Broderick, A. Franklin Burgess Jr., Jeanette Clark, Linda Kay Davis, Wendell P. Gardner Jr., Natalia Combs Greene, John R. Hess, Neal E. Kravitz, Stephen G. Milliken, Robert R. Rigsby, Fred B. Ugast, Susan R. Winfield, and Melvin R. Wright.

Judges are evaluated in their 2nd, 6th, 10th, and 13th years of service, and senior judges are evaluated approximately every other year.

Each evaluated judge, along with the chief judge of each court, will receive a copy of the survey results. Evaluation results of senior judges and judges in their 6th, 10th, and 13th years of service also will be sent to the D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure.—K.A.

D.C. Court of Appeals Approves Increase in Bar’s Dues Ceiling
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has app-roved the D.C. Bar’s request to increase its membership dues ceiling to $285, effective July 1, 2009.

The D.C. Bar Board of Governors petitioned the court for the ceiling increase on June 5, 2008. In its request, the board set out the projected revenue and expenses for the next five years and concluded the new ceiling would be sufficient for the Bar to maintain its operations over that time period.

Actual membership dues amounts are established annually following an extensive budgeting process and may not exceed the established ceiling, which currently is $195. The current dues levels are $195 for active members, $121 for inactive members, and $98 for judicial members.

Dues ceilings have been established by the court throughout the Bar’s history, with periods lasting as long as 10 years and as short as two. The current dues ceiling has been in place for five years. The new ceiling was set by Order of the Court dated September 23, 2008.

D.C. Access to Justice Commission Releases Civil Legal Needs Report
The District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission released the most comprehensive legal needs report ever produced in the District, as part of its continuing effort to address the unmet civil legal needs of low-income residents.

The report, “Justice for All? An Examination of the Civil Legal Needs of the District of Columbia’s Low-Income Community,” focuses on needs in the following areas of legal services: consumer, disability, education, employment, estate planning, family, health, housing, public benefits, and immigration. It also addresses the challenges facing legal services providers and offers 10 recommendations to improve the provision of civil legal services in the District.

“While the legal services community has made great progress in recent years to increase service delivery, this report illustrates just how much more must be done. Moreover, the recent downturn in the economy has made the need for civil legal services more acute than ever,” said Peter Edelman, chair of the Access to Justice Commission.

“With nearly 50,000 members of the D.C. Bar working in the Washington metropolitan area every day, and a supportive District government, we can and should be doing better. This report provides a roadmap of how we can do precisely that.”

The report is based upon surveys distributed to the District’s legal services providers in 2006, interviews of 28 community-based organizations and government agencies, court statistics, listening sessions with various stakeholders, and social science reports concerning the District.

The Access to Justice Commission was created by the D.C. Court of Appeals for an initial three-year term in 2005 to address the unmet civil legal needs of low- and moderate-income District residents. In late 2007 the Court of Appeals ordered the continuation of the commission without a fixed termination date.

Among the commission’s successes has been securing funding from the Council of the District of Columbia for civil legal services—$3.2 million in 2006 and 2007, and $3.6 million in 2008.

For more information on the report and the work of the commission, contact Sunil H. Mansukhani, executive director of the Access to Justice Commission, at sunil.mansukhani@dcaccesstojustice.org.—K.A.

From the Top … One, Two, Three
dancing Dance instructor Werner Wothke (far left) teaches (from left) Corey Thompson, branch supervisor in the family court’s Courtroom Support and Quality Control Branch; Rufus G. King III, former chief judge; Bryan Moore, applications developer in the Information Technology Division; and H. Clifton Grandy, senior court manager, how to salsa during the D.C. Superior Court’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on September 19 at the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse.—K.A.

Rosenberg Award Nominations Sought
The D.C. Bar is seeking nominations for the 2009 Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service, to be presented at next year’s Bar Conference. Submissions must be received by October 31.

The award is presented annually to a D.C. Bar member who personifies excellence in government service. In keeping with the exceptional accomplishments of Ms. Rosenberg, nominees should have demonstrated outstanding professional judgment throughout long-term government careers, worked intentionally to share their expertise as mentors to younger government lawyers, and devoted significant personal energies to public or community service.

The Bar established the award in honor of Beatrice “Bea” Rosenberg, who dedicated 35 years of her career to government service and performed with distinction at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She also served as a member of the Board on Professional Responsibility.

The 2009 presentation of the Rosenberg Award—the 20th overall—will be made at the Bar Conference on March 30. The 2008 winner was Charlotte Brookins-Hudson, who retired in 2007 after 16 years at the Office of General Counsel for the Council of the District of Columbia.

Nominations may be submitted online at www.dcbar.org/rosenbergaward or in writing to Katherine Mazzaferri, Executive Director, D.C. Bar, 1250 H Street NW, Sixth Floor, Washington, DC 20005-5937.

For more information on the Rosenberg Award, contact Leith Alvaro at 202-737-4700, ext. 218, or lalvaro@dcbar.org.—K.A.

Bar Publishes 17th Edition of D.C. Practice Manual
The 17th edition of The District of Columbia Practice Manual is available to purchase for $240.

This two-volume manual is an important resource that, in an easy-to-use format, provides information on the basics of practicing law in the District of Columbia and includes citations to key statutes, regulations, court rules, and cases, as well as relevant forms.

The 17th edition includes 21 revised chapters covering a range of topics: alternative dispute resolution, antitrust, appellate practice in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, art, child abuse and neglect, consumer protection, corporate practice, domestic relations, environment, finding the law in the District of Columbia, Health Maintenance Organization Act, human rights, juvenile, landlord and tenant, legal ethics and attorney discipline, mental health proceedings, partnerships, real property, Superior Court civil practice, U.S. District Court practice, and zoning and historic preservation.

To purchase the 17th edition of The District of Columbia Practice Manual, call 202-737-4700, ext. 268, or visit www.dcbar.org/publications.

Kindness for Kids
kindness Kandy Stroud accepts the 2008 Distinguished Child Advocate Award from the Children’s Law Center on behalf of her husband, the late Dr. Franklin Stroud. The presentation was part of the Children Law Center’s annual Helping Children Soar benefit held September 17 at the Kennedy Center. The Freddie Mac Foundation was also honored.—K.A.

 

 

Pro Bono Partnership Luncheon Draws Providers and Leaders
The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program held its annual Pro Bono Partnership (PART) Fall Kickoff Luncheon on September 23 at Arnold & Porter LLP, bringing together representatives from local legal services providers and pro bono coordinators from law firms and government agencies.

The luncheon began with a pro bono fair featuring tables staffed by local legal services providers, where coordinators could learn about opportunities for their firms’ lawyers.

Following the fair and luncheon, John W. Nields Jr., chair of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Committee, welcomed the attendees and recognized new firms joining the PART program. Nields also was recognized with a plaque for his service to the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program.

“Pro bono work oftentimes isn’t exactly the most glamorous of opportunities, but it is one of the most important things you can do as lawyers for our community,” D.C. Bar President Robert J. Spagnoletti said in his remarks as he presented the award to Nields. “In this very uncertain and difficult economic time, it’s more important than ever that we have people … who are committed to providing legal services to those who can’t afford them.”

During his keynote speech, Judge Lee F. Satterfield, who was sworn in as chief judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia the following day, talked about his experiences dealing with unrepresented litigants in the Domestic Violence Unit and what he would like to accomplish in his new position.

“One of the questions that I’ll ask myself as I go forward in this job is whether we’re doing all we can to provide better services to this community; one of the areas that will continue to be of focus to us is our pro se litigants,” he said. “We want to make sure that we are providing the procedural fairness that our citizens deserve.”

PART is a network of more than 120 law firms and federal government agencies with active pro bono programs. The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program sponsors bimonthly meetings that allow legal service organizations to present emerging needs for pro bono services, and allow firms to exchange ideas for enhancing their pro bono activities. The Pro Bono Program also publishes a directory of PART law firms to facilitate pro bono referrals.

For more information on PART, contact Michele Meitl at 202-737-4700, ext. 293, or mmeitl@dcbar.org.—K.A.

Membership Information Publicly Available
D.C. Bar members are reminded that certain membership information required as part of the Bar’s annual registration process is available to the public.

For active, inactive, or judicial members, the Bar releases their status, date of admission, and business addresses. For resigned, suspended, or deceased members, the Bar releases only the last known business addresses.

If active members have not provided a business address, the Bar will release the telephone number or, if none is provided, the home address. The Bar will release the same information for inactive and judicial members except for the home address, which it will provide by mail only after receiving a request in writing by mail, facsimile, or hand delivery. Members will receive a copy of the Bar’s reply.

The Bar also will provide member e-mail and fax numbers unless the member elects to restrict the use of that information to official Bar communications.

All unrestricted membership information is available on the Bar’s Web site, www.dcbar.org/find_ a_member.

D.C. Law Students in Court Celebrates 40 Years, Lever Awards
The D.C. Law Students in Court (LSIC) held its 10th Annual Lever Awards Dinner on October 3, marking its 40th anniversary with a screening of a film about the organization’s history and honoring Georgetown University Law Center professor John Copacino as well as the law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.

Since its formation in 1968, LSIC has become one of the largest legal services providers in the city and a two-semester legal clinic (with civil and criminal programs) for law students at American, Catholic, George Washington, Georgetown, and Howard universities.

Upon accepting his Lever Award, Copacino, who is the director of Georgetown’s Criminal Justice Clinic and the E. Barrett Prettyman Program, congratulated LSIC on its anniversary and praised the program’s supervisors as phenomenal lawyers and teachers.

“In some ways it feels a little bit presumptuous of me to be standing here and receiving this prestigious award for being afforded the privilege, really, of working year after year with the brilliant fellows at the Georgetown University Law Center; of working year after year with bright, committed, hardworking, and very caring students who are eager to stand up and fight for their clients, and who put their heart and soul and passion into their work every day,” he said. “And in some ways it feels presumptuous to be given this award for being afforded the privilege of working at Georgetown University Law Center.”

Rich Carter of Richard D. Carter, PLLC, a member of the LSIC board, commended McKenna Long & Aldridge for its support of LSIC over the years, including contributing $50,000, printing the civil program’s manuals, hosting alumni receptions and committee meetings, and accepting pro bono referrals.

Associate Jason Silverman accepted the award on behalf of the firm and called LSIC “a very important program to McKenna and a very important program to this community.

“LSIC gives students experiences that last them their whole life and their whole career. These experiences turn students into lawyers who understand why legal assistance to low-income people is important and who make a continuing commitment to service,” he said.—K.A.

SAVE THE DATE! 2009 D.C. Bar Conference
The 2009 D.C. Bar Conference will be held on Monday, March 30, 2009, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Please continue to check our Web site at www.dcbar.org/conference as details emerge. For more information, contact Verniesa R. Allen at 202-737-4700, ext. 239.

American Constitution Society Previews Supreme Court’s New Term
On September 24 the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) brought together leading legal experts and scholars to give the public a preview of the actions to come from the Supreme Court as it entered a new term on October 6.

The “2008–2009 ACS Supreme Court Term Preview” featured a panel discussion on significant cases on the Court’s docket as well as key areas in law that are likely to draw widespread attention in the coming months.

Debo P. Adegbile, director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said that for the first time in about 10 years, two cases involving voting rights protections will be argued before the Supreme Court.

Bartlett v. Strickland challenges Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act which prohibits discriminatory voting practices or procedures. In 2003, however, North Carolina redrew its voting district lines, dividing Pender County to create District 18 with a 39 percent African American voting age population.

“In the Bartlett case, the real question is, What is an opportunity to elect? That’s the issue that the Court is going to be looking at,” Adegbile said.

The other case, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Mukasey, calls on the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of Section 5 of the voting act. The temporary provision requires certain jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination to obtain federal preclearance for any changes in voting.

“Section 5 is not about adding to minority power. It’s an antiretrenchment tool,” Adegbile said.

“If the Supreme Court turns this statute asunder, it really raises very serious questions not just about civil rights but about separation of powers,” he added.

When asked whether the election of Senator Barack Obama (D–Ill.) to the presidency in November would “prematurely signal” to the Court that some voting rights protections are no longer necessary, Adegbile said “atmospherics matter” in litigation.

However, Adegbile said “any careful observer will understand that while it’s an important step, it’s not the case that the election of a single African American … suggests that things are well on mainstream.”

This term, the Supreme Court also will take up a “smattering of cases” involving business law and federal preemption.

Beth Brinkmann, partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP, said the Court’s voting pattern on punitive damages might not be what the public would expect.

Brinkmann also said the Court has taken a very serious look at patent cases in the past, a trend that will still be apparent during this term.

“It’s a Court that’s comfortable with business, understands its importance, comfortable with intellectual property, and will continue in that area,” she said.

Georgetown University Law Center professor David Vladeck, on the other hand, discussed key preemption cases awaiting the Court’s ruling.

While the Supreme Court has docketed a lot of criminal law cases for this term, George Washington University Law School professor Orin Kerr said most of them are fairly minor.

Among the Fourth Amendment cases, Kerr said Herring v. United States is the most interesting and has the most far-reaching implications.

Kerr said it is possible the Court will come out with an opinion suggesting that the automation of law enforcement databases is a problem that needs to be addressed.

“There’s so much activity going on with the automation of databases that I have a feeling the justices will not want to jump in and start regulating this as a matter of constitutional law,” he added.

On the future of the Court, Duke University School of Law professor Walter E. Dellinger III cited speculations that Justices David Souter and John Stevens, both Republicans, will be more likely to step down if a Democratic administration were to name their successors.

Dellinger also said the new administration should try very hard not to change its position before the Court, unless in the case of the most dramatic ideological split.

“Please don’t start out the tenure of your presidency by reversing position on the case between your opening brief and your reply brief … That would be foolish in terms of your influence with the Court,” he added.

The annual ACS Supreme Court preview was held at the National Press Club at 529 14th Street NW.

Kilpatrick Stockton Works to Raise Awareness About Breast Cancer
On October 1 Kilpatrick Stockton LLP and the American Cancer Society (ACS) hosted a cocktail reception at the Newseum to raise awareness for and encourage participation in the 2008 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at the National Mall on October 19.

Stephen Baskin, managing partner at Kilpatrick Stockton’s Washington, D.C., office, opened the event, saying his firm has been involved in the effort since 2003.

“We’ve been working with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; we’re one of two law firms working with ACS CAN in providing legal assistance on issues that impact those who have cancer,” he said.

Other corporate flagship sponsors partnering with ACS, including ASM Research, Best Buy, CGI, Choice Hotels, Curves, and Healthy Directions, LLC, also were recognized at the reception.

Saundra Brown-Asante, an Ambassador Leader for the ACS South Atlantic Division, rallied the crowd to get out and walk to raise awareness about cancer and help combat the disease. Brown-Asante, a 12-year breast cancer survivor, has volunteered with the ACS since her own diagnosis, leaving her job to devote herself full time to the pursuit.

“I started out feeling victimized, then I became a survivor, and now a volunteer. And it was quite a journey,” she said. “When I was diagnosed, my daughter was 10 years old. And I remember standing over her and saying, who [is] going to raise this child? Who’ll raise my daughter? Who’ll do it better than I can? It was quite a frightening thought for me.”

Brown-Asante said her doctor urged her to get involved with ACS, realizing later that it was just what she needed.

A video played at the event noted the wide reach of cancer. The disease recognizes no barriers with respect to ethnicity, social class, or age, afflicting both young and old, mothers, single women, and even men, in a lesser number of cases. The disease touches the lives of almost everyone in some fashion by striking mothers, sisters, nieces, grandmothers, friends, and coworkers of those lucky enough to avoid the disease themselves. Several people gave testimony that cancer has touched their lives five or six times.

Over the past four years, Kilpatrick Stockton officials said they were able to raise nearly $100,000 in donations within the firm.

The video closed with an appeal for more involvement by the community in events similar to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.—S.S.

New Bar Members Must Complete Practice Course
New members of the District of Columbia Bar are reminded that they have 12 months from their date of admission to complete the required course on District of Columbia practice offered by the D.C. Bar’s Continuing Legal Education Program.

D.C. Bar members who have been inactive, retired, or have voluntarily resigned for five years or more also are required to complete the course if they are seeking to switch or be reinstated to active member status. In addition, members who have been suspended for five years or more for nonpayment of dues or late fees are required to take the course to be reinstated.

New members who do not complete the mandatory course requirement within 12 months of admission receive a noncompliance notice and a final 60-day window in which to comply. After that date, the Bar automatically suspends individuals who have not attended the course and forwards their names to the clerks of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and to the Office of Bar Counsel.

Suspensions become a permanent part of members’ records. To be reinstated one must complete the course and pay a $50 fee.

The course is $190 ($219 after January 1). The next course dates are November 8, December 9, January 10, February 10, March 7, April 7, May 2, June 9, July 11, August 11, and September 12. Advanced registration is encouraged.

For more information or to register online, visit www.dcbar.org/mandatorycourse.

JTBF Holds Successful Biennial Conference
With the theme “Reaching Back, Lifting Up,” the Just the Beginning Foundation (JTBF) held its 2008 Biennial Conference on September 25–28 at the JW Marriott Hotel and several other venues throughout the city.

The three-day conference was designed to bring together a diverse group of judges, lawyers, law professors, and students from middle school through law school to enjoy the living stories of judges of diverse backgrounds and participate in public panel discussions focusing on contemporary legal issues.

JTBF was founded in 1992 as a nonprofit organization of judges, lawyers, and citizens to preserve the stories of judges and lawyers of color. The foundation’s name came from the words of former President Jimmy Carter who, reflecting on his judicial appointments, said that although more women, African American, and Hispanic judges had been appointed to the federal courts, “We haven’t done very much … that’s still just a beginning.”

As JTBF evolved, the organization focused its efforts on developing free educational and mentoring programs to provide opportunities for young persons from diverse backgrounds. JTBF programs include Middle School and High School Summer Legal Institutes, an Advanced Summer Legal Institute, law student externships, law student scholarships, programs that target underserved and minority high school and college students, and biennial conferences. The organization’s long-term goal is to increase diversity in the legal profession and on the bench.

This year’s conference opened with “Robes in the Law Schools” where multiracial teams of federal and state judges visited law schools and high schools in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia.

The conference also featured a “Pathfinder Panel” hosted by the American University Washington College of Law; a dialogue with Reggie B. Walton, U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia, and Marcia G. Cooke, U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida; and a series of panel discussions on topics such as strategies for achieving excellence, attracting and inspiring younger generations of students and lawyers, and the media’s impact on the justice system.—S.S.

Reach staff writers Kathryn Alfisi and Steven J. Stauffer at kalfisi@dcbar.org and sstauffer@dcbar.org, respectively.