The DC Drug Court September Graduation/Cookout was a Joyous CelebrationMore information
The DC Superior Court Drug Intervention Program (aka Drug Court) had its September graduation today, and what a perfect day it was. The graduates were happy and proud, with a sense of accomplishments. The joy on their faces, and their family members' and loved ones' faces was readily apparent. Chief Judge Satterfield was there, along with Mayor Bowser and Councilmember Robert White, to congratulate the graduates. Judge Jackson, who presides over drug court, got a big round of applause from the graduates, who praised his faith in them and his patience.
Mayor Bowser talked about spreading prosperity throughout the city, and how the fair and just system we have is essential to that. Interim Police Chief Newsham spoke about how the drug court program mends families and builds communities. DC's newest Councilmember, Robert White, shared some of the challenges he'd overcome, and told graduates that 'grit and determination are key.'
For more information on DC's Drug Court program, go to http://dccourts.gov/inter…/public/aud_criminal/drugcourt.jsf. For more information on drug court programs in general, and how well they work, see http://www.nadcp.org/learn/facts-and-figures.
DC Safe Surrender Takes Place Three Saturdays in SeptemberAn Opportunity for those with Bench Warrants to Get Back on TrackMore information
The DC Safe Surrender program is an opportunity for persons who have outstanding parole, pre-trial release or probation bench warrants for non-violent felonies or misdemeanors in D.C. to surrender voluntarily at the Moultrie Courthouse. DC Safe Surrender recognizes that many persons have bench warrants because they failed to appear for a court hearing or violated conditions of probation or parole, and they now want to resolve the matter and move forward with their lives. The program’s goal is to reduce the number of outstanding bench and parole warrants. The program provides persons with a way to turn themselves in, without the risk of being arrested at home, in front of their family and children, or during a routine traffic stop. An attorney will be appointed to represent each participant when he or she appears before a judge. During similar programs in 2007 and 2011, 98% of those who turned themselves in went home that same day.
The first day of DC Safe Surrender 2016 began with 8 people in line by 8am, and more than 2 dozen when the doors opened at 9am. Nearly 70 people turned themselves in. The mood was relaxed and those surrendering encountered staff members from a number of agencies (DC Superior Court, PDS, USMS, USAO, OAG, PSA and CSOSA) all there to make the process as smooth and comfortable as possible. Willie Jones, the first DC Safe Surrender 2007 participant, was at the courthouse to encourage people to surrender.
The DC Safe Surrender program will take place at the Moultrie Courthouse (500 Indiana Avenue, NW) on three consecutive Saturdays, September 10, 17 and 24, from 9am-4pm. For more information, including a list of those with bench warrants eligible for the program, go to www.dccourts.gov/safesurrender or the Safe Surrender facebook page.
"DC Safe Surrender is an initiative focused on increasing public safety, and we hope to build on the success of the 2007 and 2011 programs," Chief Judge Satterfield said. "By taking responsibility for their actions, participants of Safe Surrender will demonstrate they are taking the appropriate steps towards becoming responsible members of the community. They will end the risk of being arrested at a traffic stop or on the job or in front of colleagues or family members. I encourage everyone with an outstanding bench warrant for parole, supervised release or probation to turn themselves in; Safe Surrender is an excellent opportunity."
To hear the WTOP radio stories, click on these links: https://clyp.it/j4fsishk and https://clyp.it/ym1sexmj
Click here to read the Washington Post article and here to read the Hill Rag article.
Click here to listen to J. Leibovitz and Willie Jones talk with Harold Fisher on WHUR
Loving Marriage LicenseMore information
The DC Superior Court's Marriage Bureau has a display of seven historic marriage licenses, including President Grover Cleveland, two presidents’ daughters, two former mayors of DC, and Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter. The Lovings were married in DC because Virginia, their home state, would not allow people of two different races to marry. They were later convicted of violating that Virginia law, and ultimately appealed their case to the US Supreme Court, which ruled in their favor, striking down such laws in a number of states. For more information about the case, click here; to read the Supreme Court’s opinion in the case, click here
To see the collection of historic marriage licenses, visit the Marriage Bureau in its new location, room JM-690 of the Moultrie Courthouse (500 Indiana Avenue, NW, Washington, DC).
Superior Court's MultiDoor Facilitates Election at Park Southern ApartmentsMore information
In April, a team from the Superior Court's MultiDoor Dispute Resolution Division facilitated the election process for a new board of directors at Park Southern, a 360-unit apartment complex in Southeast, Washington DC. At the request of Judge John Mott, Multi-Door staff met with all of the named parties to a pending civil lawsuit in order to develop a process to facilitate the election of a new board of directors. No election had taken place at the complex for a number of years, and the Court extended its services to help ensure that the election went forward. The Multi-Door team worked with all of the stakeholders to manage the logistics of the election, including: certifying an eligibility list of residents and candidates, determining proof of residency, providing written notice to tenants of the election, approving ballot design, and conducting site visits to the property prior to election day.
The election took place on April 15, 2016, from 7 a.m. till noon and again from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. to accommodate all residents. The Multi-Door team patiently assisted the tenants, ensuring all those eligible to vote had access to the ballot and understood the ballot instructions. Upon conclusion of the vote, the team conducted two separate counts of all ballots and posted the results for tenants and candidates. Residents of Park Southern expressed their appreciation and gratitude to the team for the Court's intervention and assistance in this case.
We hope the election is a new beginning for this DC community. The complex has a tremendous amount of potential and some of the best views of the city!
Pictured below, from left to right, are: Andre Randall, Miati Tagliferro, Claudette Taylor, Jeannie Adams and Robert Hosea of the Superior Court's Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division.
Justice Index ranks DC courts #1 for access to justice.More information
The D.C. Courts are #1 according to The Justice Index, a project of the National Center for Access to Justice at the Cardozo Law School. The Justice Index recently released the results of its survey of state-level courts. This survey focused on the way the courts provide legal representation in civil matters, provide information to and assist litigants who represent themselves, enhance communications with court users who are less than proficient in English, and remove barriers for court users who have physical or mental disabilities. Thanks to everyone who participated in responding to the survey. The survey results are on-line, in an interactive format.
The DC Courts Kick-Off Next Strategic Plan Information-Gathering ProcessMore information
The District of Columbia Courts are involved in a year-long process of collecting information to inform our upcoming 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. On May 17-19, 2016, as part of that effort, the DC Courts surveyed court users on their experience with the courts. The survey also asked questions to assess if DC Courts are accessible and treat people with fairness and respect.
Approximately 100 judicial officers and employees, including Chief Judge Washington and Chief Judge Satterfield, handed out surveys over the course of the 3 days, encouraging participation. Volunteers wore "You Be the Judge" t-shirts and handed out surveys at entrances and exits of the Historic Courthouse and Moultrie Courthouse. The survey was available in English, Spanish and Amharic. The survey was completed by approximately 1,300 persons conducting business in the courts during those days.
DC Superior Court Hosts 2016 Juror Appreciation WeekMore information
Memorial Day is a time honored occasion to acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice that our service men and women have made to protect and defend the rights and liberties afforded to us as citizens of this great nation. There is perhaps no better way to say "Thank You" than to actually exercise those guaranteed freedoms that our fallen heroes fought, bled, and died for. And so, against that backdrop, the DC Superior Court made it a priority to acknowledge and thank the residents of the District of Columbia – who, through their service as jurors, embrace the full implications of what civic responsibility means. The vital role of the judiciary, as the third branch of government, could not be fulfilled without ordinary citizens – through their service as jurors – providing the necessary framework to deliver justice and accountability for our community. Each year, the DC Superior Court calls over 30,000 residents, from across every ward in the city, to serve as potential jurors. And each year the residents of the District of Columbia "answer the call" to participate in our collective democracy by serving jury duty.
Juror Appreciation Week is the Court's way of saying "Thank You!" to the nearly 1,000 citizens that partner with us on a weekly basis in the process of administering justice for the District of Columbia. Their hard work and sacrifice bring our Constitution and democracy to life, through rendering decisions in cases that impact people's lives in very real and meaningful ways. Like anything worth having, protecting our freedoms through the judicial process will cost something. In consideration of the important sacrifice that potential jurors make, and with an eye towards Goal 1(B)(5) of the Court’s Strategic Plan – "Improving the efficient use of jurors by examining new approaches for verifying trial readiness, calling jurors for service, and assembling panels" – the Jurors' Office continues to make great strides to ensure that the Court's business processes maximize the jurors' sacrifice.
Beginning with Chief Judge Satterfield, and followed by a member from his judicial leadership team (Presiding Judge Leibovitz, Judge Wright, Presiding Judge Bartnoff, Deputy Presiding Judge Lee, Presiding Magistrate Judge Beshouri, and Deputy Presiding Magistrate Judge Gray), as well as James D. McGinley, Clerk of the Superior Court, each juror orientation group was greeted and given the opportunity to ask questions about the court system and the jury process. Additionally, jurors were apprised of upcoming initiatives such as the implementation of a "call-in system" and the acquisition of a new Jury Management System. Jurors learned how continuing efforts such as these would help the Court better align its daily demand for jurors with the number of jurors that we bring in each day. Jurors were also reassured that, through such initiatives, the Court is committed to improving its juror utilization rates, as well as extending the period of time that residents are called to serve.
The DC Courts value the tremendous effort, contribution, and role that our jurors play in helping us fulfill our mission "to protect rights and liberties, uphold and interpret the law, and resolve disputes peacefully, fairly and effectively in the District of Columbia." Juror Appreciation Week is our way of acknowledging their "Public Service" to the community.
Family Treatment Court Holds 14th GraduationMore information
On Friday, April 29, 2016, the Family Court hosted the Fourteenth Family Treatment Court graduation. Five women graduated to lives without drugs and alcohol and with their children at their sides, after a rigorous year-plus of treatment, programming, and therapy to help identify the challenges to their sobriety.
After the processional of graduates into the room, Chief Judge Satterfield spoke, congratulating the graduates and saying that despite scheduling conflicts, he was there to support them and to support Magistrate Judge Gray. Judge Puig-Lugo then spoke, also congratulating the graduates, but reminding them that while this was a conclusion, it was also a beginning. And he made sure they knew that the Family Treatment Court family would be with them always. Ms. Jocelyn Gainers, Director of the Family Recovery Program, read an inspirational poem, and then Judge Gray introduced Carson Fox, CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Fox kept his remarks brief because, he said, the day was not about him but about the graduates. He told them that in searching for a word that would sum-up the day, what he came up with was 'Inspiration,' saying that the graduates were an inspiration to him, as he knew they were to others following in their footsteps in the program to their families and tyo all of us in attendance. He reminded them all that they were extraordinary people. Marquitta Duverney, Director of DC's Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration (APRA), told the graduates that they each had light inside them, that they were in charge of it and not to let anyone take it away from them. Marie Morilus-Black, Deputy Director of the DC Child and Family Services Agency's Office of Well-Being, acknowledged the rough road the women had travelled, but said she was confident that they could become women their children would look up to. And like Judge Puig-Lugo, she reminded the women that the support team that is the Family Treatment Court is "not going anywhere" and told them that "you've found your village." David Cook from Court Appointed Special Advocates spoke briefly and congratulated the graduates. Songstress Corisa Myers then performed What about the Children? a song that included the lyrics "And if not for those who loved us and who cared enough to show us, Where would we be today?"
Magistrate Judge Gray then spoke to the graduates, telling them that they were fabulous women, courageous women and reassuring them of her confidence in their ability to succeed. Family Treatment Court Coordinator Dr. Sariah Beatty then called the graduates up to the podium one by one to receive their certificate. Dr. Beatty spoke about the progress they'd made, the obstacles they’d overcome and the unique contributions each had made. The graduates were thrilled with their certificates, their awards and the bag of gifts that each were given. The ceremony was closed with another musical selection from Corisa Myers (the most appropriate 'You are the Wind Beneath My Wings') and then Dr. Beatty's final thoughts and reflections.
The DC Superior Court sadly announces the passing of former Chief Judge Fred B. Ugast on April 6, 2016.More information
Large International Delegation Visits DC Superior Court’s Drug Court ProgramMore information
2015 Ollie May Cooper Award Given to DC Court of Appeals Chief Judge Eric WashingtonMore information
On October 22, 2015, Chief Judge Eric T. Washington of the DC Court of Appeals was given the Ollie May Cooper Award, which is presented annually to a member of the Washington Bar Association who has given outstanding service to the bar or whose leadership and organizational efforts have enhanced the image of the Washington Bar Association.
The award is named in honor of Ollie May Cooper who graduated from the Howard University School of Law, magna com laude with an L.L.B. in 1921 and who, along with Isadore Letcher, were the first African-American women in the United States to form a law partnership owned and operated by women. Over the years, Ms. Cooper served in various capacities at the Howard University Law School including teaching a course, serving as the law school’s law clerk, and serving as the secretary to at least 10 of the deans. She was the founder of the Epsilon Sigma Iota Legal Sorority and touched the lives of countless students and lawyers during her 43 year association with her alma mater. (Source: Washingtonbar.org)
November 21 – DC's 29th Annual Adoption Day CelebrationMore information
White House Drug Policy Director Keynotes August Drug Court GraduationMore information
On Wednesday, August 19, 2015 DC Superior Court's Drug Court held its monthly progression and graduation ceremony. The ceremony was co-hosted by the Pretrial Services Agency (PSA), which provides the treatment and case management for the program. In attendance were a number of other partner agencies, including the DC US Attorney's Office, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, the DC Public Defender Service, the DC Office of the Attorney General, among others. Superior Court Chief Judge Lee Satterfield and Clerk of Court James McGinley joined numerous friends and family members of the graduates in celebrating the accomplishments of not just the six who were graduating, but the numerous others who were progressing from one phase of the program to another.
The ceremony began with the graduates' processional during which they received a standing ovation. PSA Case Manager Tarinna Terrell welcomed the audience and asked Drug Court participant Tonya Boles to come forward to offer words of encouragement, which were very well-received. Case Manager Mike Vaughn then introduced the guest speaker, author and advocate Janice Ferebee, who provided warm and encouraging comments to the graduates. As one who has 25 years in recovery, Ms. Ferebee recounted her own descent into drug use and how she went from being a straight A student, to an addict involved with a South American drug cartel. During a journey through her addiction disease, Ferebee said it was her mother who was her strongest step in making a change in her life. She urged the graduates to "allow family to be a part of the success story that is your life." She closed by reminding them that "The people that matter won't judge you, and the people that judge you won't matter"The graduation continued with PSA Director Cliff Keenan recognizing the Drug Court partners, and introducing Michael Botticelli, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy as the graduation's keynote speaker. Director Botticelli highlighted how joyous drug court graduations are, noting "If you're ever having a bad day, find a drug court graduation." Director Botticelli, in recovery for over 25 years, gave the graduates the secrets to his own success story, going from a man standing before a judge 27 years ago, making what he said was the first smart decision he had made in several years by opting for treatment, to becoming the Obama Administration's director of drug policy. He noted that recovery is not an easy task, "[it] does not promise you a straight and happy life, but it does promise you a real life." He told graduates that he was "so very proud of each and every one" of them.
Following Director Botticelli's remarks, those who were progressing from one phase of the program to another were called up and given a certificate and a small token of recognition. Then Judge Gregory Jackson, Presiding Judge of the Drug Court, and Director Botticelli greeted each graduate in the well of the courtroom as they were called up to received their certificates. Each graduate spoke briefly, sharing his or her appreciation for the program and the support of their family and friends.
Before closing the ceremony, Judge Jackson asked those in the audience to share their thoughts and words of encouragement. He then offered his own words of encouragement to the graduates and spoke of how much of an effort they had put in, how resolute they had been, and how proud he was of them. Judge Jackson ended with a reminder that today really "wasn't an ending point, but the first day of the rest of their lives."