By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 23, 2008
D.C. Superior Court Judge Lee F. Satterfield was named chief judge of the court yesterday, replacing Rufus G. King III, who is retiring.
A seven-member judicial nomination committee led by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan decided on the successor after three months of heavy lobbying from D.C. judges and lawyers. Satterfield competed against a colleague and former deputy, Anita Josey-Herring, a former public defender who has been a judge for about 11 years, mostly in the court's family unit.
Satterfield, a former prosecutor, has been on the bench for about 16 years. He is an associate judge in the court's domestic violence unit. Satterfield will be the sixth chief judge of the court since Congress created it in 1970.
Sources familiar with the process said Satterfield, 49, received more letters of support and endorsements than Josey-Herring did.
The position of chief judge is administrative and involves overseeing 900 court employees, including 62 judges, and a $98.3 million operating budget. The chief judge is expected to ensure that the other judges dispose of cases efficiently and to deal with personnel issues.
Satterfield's supporters cited his experience in various divisions of the court, including the civil, criminal, family and domestic violence sections.
The committee said that Satterfield is "widely respected by colleagues, court staff litigants, attorneys, public officials and other members of the community" and that he is "recognized and lauded for his leadership, intellect, temperament, integrity, commitment and vision."
Satterfield will assume the four-year position Sept. 30. King, 66, announced his retirement in May. During the transition within the courthouse, Satterfield won't have to move far. His chambers are next door to King's.
Satterfield, a D.C. native, said he was "honored" by the appointment.
"This is a wonderful court with a lot of wonderful people here, and I look forward to making it stronger in how we deliver services to the District of Columbia citizens," Satterfield said.
Josey-Herring, 47, said she was glad that the months of aggressive lobbying and campaigning have ended.
"It was a hard-fought race, and I look forward to working with Judge Satterfield in his new role," she said.
Josey-Herring said she will continue as head of the family division until her term ends Dec. 31. Then, she said, she hopes to move to another assignment within the court.