By Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Le
Chief Judge Satterfield Appointed to Second Term
On July 26 the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission reappointed Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to a second four-year term beginning October 1.
“I am gratified that the Commission has shown its continued confidence in my skills and leadership as chief judge. This job is not an easy one, but it is incredibly rewarding to be able to improve the administration of justice and the services and programs we offer the residents of my hometown,” said Judge Satterfield. “With the incredibly talented judiciary and court managers at the Superior Court, I am confident that we can continue to make improvements to a court that is already one of the best in the country.”
Satterfield’s first term focused on improving the court’s operations, expanding its community outreach, and boosting public confidence in the court system. One of the court’s more recent initiatives aims to reduce recidivism among juvenile offenders. Two juvenile drop–in centers, which offer youths productive alternatives to detention, are serving the District and a third one will open in early September.
In addition, the D.C. Superior Court implemented a jury management system to improve jury service and created a Housing Conditions Calendar to expedite tenant cases against their landlords. To evaluate the benefits of technology and the law and to improve courtroom innovation, the Superior Court also developed its first high–technology courtroom in 2010.
During the application process, the public was invited to offer comments about Judge Satterfield’s performance during the past four years. The commission also hosted a forum on July 10, which gave D.C. residents a chance to ask the judge questions about his current efforts on behalf of the court as well as his plans for the court.
In considering Judge Satterfield’s reappointment, the commission reviewed his statement of interest, past experience, performance as chief judge, qualifications, leadership abilities, administrative skills, and abilities to promote public confidence in the court.
Judge Satterfield was appointed to the D.C. Superior Court in 1992 by President George H. W. Bush. He has served in the Superior Court’s Criminal, Civil, and Family Divisions as well as its Domestic Violence Unit.—T.L.
Bar Seeks Candidates for Committee, Board Vacancies
The D.C. Bar Board of Governors is seeking candidates for appointment in the fall to 13 of the Bar’s standing committees, and to the Board of Directors of the Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP). The following Bar standing committees are recruiting members:
- Community Economic Development Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee
- Continuing Legal Education Committee
- Election Board
- Lawyer Assistance Committee
- Leadership Development Committee
- Membership Committee
- Practice Management Service Committee
- Nominations Committee
- Pro Bono Committee
- Publications Committee
- Regulations/Rules/Board Procedures Committee
- Rules of Professional Conduct Review Committee
- Technology Committee
Some vacancies may be filled with incumbent members.
Finally, the Board of Governors is also accepting applications from D.C. Bar members who are interested in serving on the board of directors of the NLSP. Candidates must be licensed attorneys who are supportive of the Legal Services Corporation Act and have an interest in, and knowledge of, the delivery of quality legal services to the underprivileged. The NLSP board is required to attempt to reflect the diversity of the NLSP client population in its recommendations to the Bar’s Board of Governors.
The following committees have positions designated for nonlawyer members: Community Economic Development Project Advisory, Lawyer Assistance, Membership, Neighborhood Legal Services Program, and Practice Management Service.
Individuals interested in being considered for any of these openings should submit their résumés and a cover letter stating the committee or board on which they would like to serve, and a description of work or volunteer experiences that provide relevant skills for the position(s) sought. Applications that do not include a description of relevant experience will not be considered. Leadership experience with other D.C. Bar committees, voluntary bar associations, or with the Bar’s sections is highly desirable. Descriptions of the committees can be found online at www.dcbar.org/
Submit materials online at www.dcbar.org/vacancies or by mail to the D.C. Bar Executive Office, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210. Materials must be received by Tuesday, September 4.
SNR Denton Honors Military Vets After Transcontinental Race
It was a bicycle marathon across the country, starting in Oceanside, California, and ending in Annapolis, Maryland. For two teams, it wasn’t simply an endurance race to test their athletic abilities, but a show of support for service members and their families wounded both physically and psychologically in war.
In this year’s Race Across America, one of the world’s toughest endurance sporting events, SNR Denton sponsored teams of cyclists—two squads from the United States and one from the United Kingdom—composed of previously wounded military veterans as well as active and retired military personnel. Beginning June 16, the teams raced through plains, mountains, and deserts to raise awareness and funds for Help for Heroes and the Wounded Warrior Project. Both organizations offer services to injured service members.
On June 26, a day after the teams’ final leg to Annapolis, the law firm held a reception to honor the cyclists and their completion of the race. About 100 guests, including Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Florida Rep. Allen West, British Defence Attaché Major General Buster Howes, and retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Mark Beesley, came out to celebrate the racers’ courageous feat.
The veterans spoke about their challenges and the great experiences they enjoyed as they raced across the country with their teams. Even though many competed with severe physical scars of war, including lost limbs, they made it across 12 states and climbed more than 100,000 feet.
“Seeing the racers themselves [who] have just completed this cross–country relay and hearing their stories of the challenges they faced en route—the blazing sun, the merciless miles and miles across America’s heartland that they bicycled—was just extremely impressive,” said Jeffrey Krilla, principal at SNR Denton and a U.S. Navy reservist. “As a global law firm, we take great pride in supporting our military [both in the U.S. and U.K.]. . . . This event was just one way to showcase that support both for men and women in uniform, as well as those who served their country so proudly and bear the scars from that service.”—T.L.
Assistance Network SOLACE Now Available in D.C.
SOLACE (Support of Lawyers/Legal Personnel—All Concern Encouraged), a program that allows members of a local legal community to help one another in times of need, is now being offered by the District of Columbia Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (FBA).
SOLACE began in Louisiana in 2002 as a result of a near–tragedy experienced by a Louisiana State Bar Association member. This incident prompted Mark C. Surprenant, a senior partner at New Orleans–based firm Adams and Reese LLP, and Judge Jay C. Zainey of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to develop an assistance network of attorneys and legal professionals, along with their families and friends, who could potentially assist each other when the need—either professional or personal—arises.
The circumstances under which the network had been utilized are wide ranging, from identifying and providing medical transportation after the daughter of two members of the legal community became gravely ill to finding somebody who could take care of a family dog while an attorney and his wife were away for his medical treatment.
In Louisiana the network has been instrumental in helping members of the legal community affected by hurricanes find housing, office space, and office furniture and supplies, among others. These services are provided at no cost and with the assurance of privacy.
Today there are more than 7,500 SOLACE members and the program is sponsored by state and local bar associations, as well as local chapters of the FBA, across the country, including Delaware, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island.
On July 24 Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia joined Judge Zainey at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse to introduce SOLACE to the District. Approximately 30 people were in attendance, including the individuals responsible for bringing the program into the District: attorney Steven Miller and Brian Murphy of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Miller and Murphy, both officers of the D.C. chapter of the FBA, first heard of SOLACE during a presentation made by Judge Zainey at the 2010 FBA convention in New Orleans.
Miller, who serves as chapter president and chair of its SOLACE implementation committee, said hearing Judge Zainey talk about the assistance that SOLACE has been able to provide “was mesmerizing and inspirational.”
“[Judge Zainey] described an effort, the results of which seemed wonderful. We thought it could be something that could be expanded to other places, including D.C., where it might benefit other legal communities,” Miller said.
For the next two years that idea was pursued in “small, incremental steps” to gauge the reaction of the District’s legal community. The feedback has all been positive, said Miller. Among the stops along the way was a presentation at a D.C. Bar leadership meeting and discussions with former D.C. Bar President Darrell G. Mottley and current President Thomas S. Williamson Jr.
But while the FBA’s D.C. chapter has been successful in getting SOLACE offered in the District, the program has a ways to go before it’s considered complete here in the nation’s capital. The focus will first be on getting members of the FBA D.C. chapter, and then of other area chapters, to join SOLACE.
“It’s not something we’re going to take faster or slower than what seems to work,” Miller said. “We’re looking to grow this one step at a time.”
One of those steps will be the creation of a dedicated e-mail address for the program, but until then those who have questions about SOLACE or who want to join the network can contact Miller at email@example.com.—K.A.
Don’t Lose Your License! Pay Bar Dues by October 1
D.C. Bar members whose Bar dues and/or late fee, if applicable, are not received or postmarked by October 1 automatically will be suspended for nonpayment and subject to additional reinstatement fees.
Dues are $255 for active members, $130 for inactive members, and $127 for judicial members. When paying dues, members also may join a section or renew their section memberships and make contributions to the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program.
The deadline for paying dues was July 2. Dues not received or postmarked by July 16 were assessed a late fee of $30.
Payments may be remitted by mail or submitted online at www.dcbar.org/login. For online payments, members will need their username and password, which automatically can be retrieved if their e–mail address matches what the Bar has on file.
Members are encouraged to confirm all of their personal information on the dues statement, including e–mail addresses.
Supporters Mark 25th Anniversary of McKinney–Vento Act
Scott Lovell remembered the nights in his “outside bedroom” watching the Washington Capitals play on the jumbotron outside the Verizon Center. For two years, Lovell was homeless, preferring to fight it out on the streets rather than in the shelters where oftentimes the conditions were no better.
During a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act on July 19, Lovell told guests about his journey, including one of the few times he tried staying at a shelter. He still recalls the feeling of putting his foot in his shoe and finding a mouse. He would rather call the corner of 7th and G streets NW his home.
By 2009, however, and with the help and generosity of season ticket holder Mary Taneyhill, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, and those at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP), Lovell had an apartment, a paying job, and tickets to the hockey games. His appreciation was obvious as he urged guests to help NLCHP achieve its mission. “They need help. They can’t do it alone,” he said.
Lovell wasn’t the only speaker at the event who was proud of the progress made in addressing homelessness issues over the past few decades. U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, cochair and cofounder of the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness, also offered insight. “Today, we’re marking the 25th anniversary of the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act. It really is an opportunity to reflect and recognize the immense positive impact this legislation has had on so many Americans,” Biggert said. “Since 1987, McKinney–Vento has served as the foundation of the national strategy against homelessness.”
The McKinney–Vento Act was the first major federal legislation addressing homelessness and has since helped millions of people over the past 25 years. The act guarantees homeless children a legal right to free public education, provides primary health care services, funds housing and homeless prevention programs, and gives homeless service providers a right to use vacant federal property.
The efforts continue, Biggert added. In December 2011, a hearing was held on bill H.R. 32, also known as the Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2011. The resolution would expand the definition of a homeless person created under the McKinney–Vento Act. The new definition would include children who live in poor housing conditions with more than one family, or who have temporary but unstable housing, including jumping from couch to couch or living in hotels.
“We have to continue to fight homelessness together as a community and get more people involved. This is something that isn’t partisan. This is something we all really care about,” Biggert said.
Maria Foscarinis, executive director of NLCHP, agreed. “Let’s remember this: The McKinney–Vento Act was supposed to be just a first step. It was never intended by itself to end homelessness. There’s much more to do. Our goal is to ensure that the human right to housing is a reality for everybody.”
Held at the National Association of Realtors’ building in Northwest Washington, D.C., the event also featured remarks by Nhiahni Chestnut, a former homeless person; Neil Donovan of the National Coalition for the Homeless; and William Gilmartin of the National Association of Realtors. Guests also viewed excerpts of Tom Morgan’s documentary These Storied Streets, which takes a look at homelessness in America.—T.L.
Zoe Bush, a presiding judge at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia’s family court, addresses families at the annual D.C. Family Celebration Day at the Town Hall Education Arts and Recreation Center in Southeast. The family court and the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) cohosted the event to honor families that have been successfully reunited rather than have their children remain in foster care. D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and CFSA Director Brenda Donald also were among the event’s speakers.—K.A.
Commission Selects Nominees for Superior Court Vacancy
On July 26 the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission announced it had chosen Noel Thomas Johnson, Michael Kenny O’Keefe, and Robert D. Okun as nominees to fill a vacancy on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
The commission has sent the three names to President Obama, who has 60 days to select his nominee. The vacancy was created due to the retirement of Judge Linda Kay Davis.
Johnson is a Superior Court magistrate judge who has served in the Family Court since his appointment in 2002. He is a graduate of The Catholic University of America and Tulane University School of Law. After law school, Johnson served as a law clerk at the Office of Bar Counsel.
O’Keefe is a sole practitioner in the District who specializes in criminal defense and family law. He has represented individuals in more than 2,000 cases in the Superior Court and litigated more than 200 trials. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and American University Washington College of Law, where he served as associate editor of its Law Review. After law school, O’Keefe served as a clerk at O’Connor & Hannan and also was a legislative aide to former Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D–Conn.).
Okun, a former member of the D.C. Bar Board of Governors, has been a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for 16 years, and has served the past 12 years as chief of its Special Proceedings Division. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk for Judge Frank E. Schwelb at the Superior Court.—K.A.
PATH Conference Shines Spotlight on Public Defender Careers
On July 28 approximately 285 law students and attorneys converged at Georgetown University Law Center for the 2012 Public Defender Advocacy, Hiring & Training (PATH) Conference, a biennial event focused on issues and career questions unique to public defenders.
Organized by the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), with financial contributions from Jenner & Block LLP and Miller & Chevalier Chartered, the conference is a means to provide information on what it’s like to be a public defender and how to get hired by a public defender’s office. Attendees included law students, attorneys interested in working as public defenders, and public defenders looking to change offices.
The conference is also an opportunity for attendees to meet with public defenders from around the country. In addition to the District of Columbia and Maryland, this year’s event drew representatives from public defender offices in Colorado, the Bronx and Harlem in New York, Las Vegas, Miami, and Philadelphia.
“There’s not a lot of information out there for people who want to be a public defender,” said Rudy Acree, deputy director at PDS who participated in the conference. Acree said the question he was asked the most at the conference was “What are public defender offices looking for in new hires?” He answered that his office, and most other offices, are looking for someone who, above all, has shown an interest in public interest work and who has trial advocacy skills.
Applicants should be able to deal with angry judges, uncooperative prosecution, and sometimes belligerent clients on a regular basis. “It’s really difficult to pick out people who have the ability, the desire, and the work ethic to do this type of work,” Acree said.
The conference also featured sessions such as “Get Over Yourself: Client–Centered Representation and Indigent Criminal Defense,” “Knowing the Law Is Nice, But. . . .: How Investigation Wins Cases,” and “Love Don’t Pay the Bills: Affording Your Public Defender Career.”
The opening plenary session “How Can You Not Defend Those People,” led by PDS trial attorney Jason Downs, addressed the frequent comments public defenders hear about representing clients presumed to be guilty. Acree said people who make such comments often do not understand the nuts and bolts of indigent criminal defense work or the importance of the idea that everyone charged with a criminal offense is entitled to criminal legal representation.
Another common misconception is that public defenders are not as skilled as other attorneys. “Many people from the outside view public defenders as second–rate attorneys. That’s just not the case. We want students to know that being a public defender does not mean you’ll be doing less competent work,” Acree said.—K.A.
Rocking and Raising
V. Gerard “Jerry” Comizio, a partner at Paul Hastings LLP, shows off his guitar skills at the Black Cat as part of “Banding Together 2012” to benefit Gifts for the Homeless (GFTH), Inc., the all-volunteer nonprofit supported by the D.C. legal community. Comizio, who also serves on GFTH’s board, is a member of the Paul Hasting’s band Unnamed Party, one of 17 law firm bands that battled it out for the most audience votes/donations. This year’s winner was Williams & Connolly LLP’s Dangerous Communications Device. The event generated more than $266,000 to purchase clothing for the District’s homeless.
Four D.C. Students Garner Abramson Scholarships
Behind the headlines and statistics marking the rising costs of college are real students struggling to afford the education that could improve their lives. To ease the financial burden and to boost students’ chances of success, the Abramson Scholarship Foundation has provided scholarships to four graduates of the District of Columbia’s public high schools.
On June 18 the foundation held a reception at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP to honor not only its four incoming scholars but to also recognize the achievements of its past 14 scholarship recipients, referred to as Second Year and Continuing Scholars.
The 2012 scholarship winners recognized at the event were Nichelle Brunner of School Without Walls, who will study journalism or broadcasting at Temple University; Danielle Bryan, the valedictorian of her class at Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School, who will attend Spelman College and enroll in the dual degree program with Georgia Tech to study industrial engineering; Christopher Feaster, a graduate of Hospitality High, who is headed to Michigan State University to pursue a career in hotel management; and Hawi Keno, a graduate of Theodore Roosevelt High School bound for George Mason University to study science and pre–medicine.
This year, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and Quadrangle Development Corporation each sponsored a scholar for all four years. Bryan is the Quadrangle Development Corporation Named Scholar, and Keno is the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Named Scholar.
During the reception, 1999 scholar and mentoring chair Aaron Jenkins and 2008 scholar Anaia Peddie, a 2012 magna cum laude graduate of Spelman College, spoke about goals for the future and how critical the scholarship was to them and will be to current scholars as they pursue their dreams.
With the exception of a few economically difficult years, the Abramson Scholarship Foundation has been handing out scholarships to promising D.C. public school graduates since 1991. Originally the foundation provided one–year fellowships, but since 2011 it has awarded four–year scholarships, with the amount increasing to compensate for potential decreases in financial aid each year.
In addition to financial support, the foundation connects scholars to mentors who provide both personal and professional advice as the students navigate their college and post–college experiences.
“Most of our scholars are first–generation [college students]. They can’t always ask their parents questions,” said Elaine O. Hammond, executive director of the foundation in stressing the importance of mentors. During winter break, the foundation also offers professional development workshops staffed by board members, among them attorneys and judges from the local community. “We talk about how to dress for success. We have them bring their résumés. Our board members sit there and look at their résumés and edit them. We do mock interviews. We really try to make a difference, an impact,” she said.
The scholarship is named after Frederick B. Abramson, a prominent member of the Washington, D.C., legal community and former D.C. Bar president who died in 1991. The Frederick B. Abramson Memorial Foundation was established in honor of his commitment to education, mentoring, and community service.—K.A.
Bar Members Must Complete Practice Course
New members of the District of Columbia Bar are reminded that they have 12 months from the date of admission to complete the required course on the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct and District of Columbia practice offered by the D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education Program.
D.C. Bar members who have been inactive, retired, or 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 administratively suspends individuals who have not completed 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 preregistration fee is $219; the onsite fee is $279. Upcoming dates are September 8, October 16, November 17, and December 11. Advanced registration is encouraged.
For more information or to register online, visit www.dcbar.org/mandatorycourse.
Lyons, Keeney Share CCE’s Justice Potter Stewart Award
As guests of the 16th annual Justice Potter Stewart Awards Dinner walked up the marble steps, flags from countries around the world bustled in the wind outside the Organization of American States. On May 10 the building hosted the Council for Court Excellence’s (CCE) 30–year anniversary celebration and awards ceremony.
“Whether we are judges, lawyers, business leaders, or involved citizens, as members of the Council for Court Excellence, we share our commitment to justice with neighbors across D.C. We know that justice for all requires smart policy solutions, good data, and public education initiatives,” said CCE chair Jay Brozost. “One of the hallmarks of [CCE] since its founding has been persistence. We have advanced our mission now for 30 years.”
Recipients of the prestigious Justice Potter Stewart Award are recognized for having demonstrated the same persistence throughout their careers in improving the administration of justice, as well as for embodying the legacy left by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stewart, the award’s namesake.
This year CCE presented the award to James L. Lyons, a founding partner at Kellogg, Williams & Lyons, and Jack C. Keeney Jr., a former D.C. Bar president who serves as director of the Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.
Philip L. Kellogg of Kellogg, Williams introduced his colleague, telling the audience of the mark Lyons has left on his indigent clients. To this day, some of Lyons’ clients continue to call him to check in and send Christmas cards. “He has a unique ability to earn the trust and confidence of these clients, many of whom have never trusted anyone in a position of authority before,” said Kellogg.
Lyons said he was humbled by the award, thanking numerous mentors, colleagues, and friends who helped him during his journey as a staff attorney with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, as a D.C. Assistant U.S. Attorney, and, finally, in his foray into private practice. “This is an event that I will deeply, deeply treasure in the days—and hopefully some years—to come,” he said.
D.C. Court of Appeals Judge John M. Ferren cut right to the chase when he presented the award to the second honoree of the evening. “I want to say straight away that Jack Keeney is receiving the Justice Potter Stewart Award because, for years and years, he has been a committed and very resourceful pro bono lawyer who has improved the lives of hundreds and hundreds of individuals,” Ferren said.
In accepting the award, Keeney urged his peers to continue fighting the legal battles for the underprivileged. “The fundamental truth is that law has become so complex that without a lawyer’s aid, fairness is elusive and often illusory for families in poverty,” he said, adding that “Given the overwhelming need of so many families in poverty, it is never too early for a lawyer to pitch in for D.C.’s poor, and it is certainly never too late to do even more.”—T.L.