An article yesterday on the resignation of the D.C. Superior Court executive incorrectly reported how long Duane Delaney has been the clerk of the D.C. Superior Court. Although Delaney has been employed by the court for 20 years, he has been the clerk only five years. (Published 10/06/1999) An article Tuesday on the resignation of the D.C. Superior Court executive incorrectly reported the name of the director of the court's Center for Education, Training and Development. Her name is Ellen Marshall. (Published 10/07/1999)
Ulysses B. Hammond, the D.C. Superior Court executive who has been under fire for his management of the court system, announced his resignation yesterday.
Hammond, the first African American to administer an appellate and general jurisdiction court system in the country, has come under constant criticism recently, including accusations that he may have overspent the court's budget and mismanaged operations. His resignation is effective Feb. 18, his 10th anniversary with the courts.
"I came to a conclusion that it was going to be in the best interest of the court to make the announcement now," Hammond said in a telephone interview from Ocean City, Md., where he is attending the Mid-Atlantic Association of Court Managers, a group he co-founded in 1992. "I'm at peace with the decision."
Hammond, 48, said he was going to announce his resignation later this year but moved it up to "avoid any unnecessary speculation regarding my intentions." Hammond said he has not accepted another job offer.
Hammond delivered his resignation letter Friday to Chief Judge Eugene N. Hamilton and the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration, the policy-making body to whom he reports. Hamilton "just ripped up the letter," Hammond said.
Appellate Court Chief Judge Annice M. Wagner, who chairs the committee, praised Hammond for rendering "loyal, conscientious and valuable services" to the courts and implementing innovative programs.
Under Hammond's leadership, the domestic violence project and the adult and juvenile drug courts were established. He also hired a full-time Spanish language instructor for judges, probation officers and other court staff members. Hammond oversees 1,200 employees and a $121 million budget. The District has the only court system in the country that offers in-house Spanish training, officials said.
"The District of Columbia courts will be losing a very able and visionary leader," said Helen Marshall, director of the Center for Education, Training and Development, which Hammond established in 1994 to offer employees continued professional development.
Hammond, who came to the District after 12 years with the Michigan court system, developed programs aimed at families and youth, including a mentoring program which offers support to abused and neglected children in the judicial system.
He also launched the baseball program at Garrison Elementary School and the juried art exhibit for students attending the District's public high schools.
Recently, Hammond has come under fire for poor budgeting and questionable management. Earlier this year, the court stopped payments to hundreds of court-appointed lawyers of indigent defendants and ignored Congress's order to set aside $31.9 million to pay them.
At an Aug. 12 staff meeting about tight budgets and flat salaries, several dozen employees told judges that morale in their division was at an all-time low. In comments later obtained by The Washington Post, Nancy Cohen, a staffer of 23 years, accused the court leadership of losing its "focus on creating sound internal policies. . .and it is not the fault of GAO or the press. It's about the lack of leadership."
A scathing report last month by the General Accounting Office accused Hammond and other court leaders of poor budgeting and illegal overspending of more than $4 million.
"We did not overspend," Hammond said yesterday. "The GAO accused us of over-obligating; there's a difference."
Hammond said the often stinging criticism did not affect his decision to leave.
But Duane Delaney, clerk of the D.C. Superior Court for the past 20 years, said it took its toll. "Whenever you're criticized to the extent he's been, it wears on anybody," Delaney said. "When you sit in the big chair, you take the shots. Frankly, that's what happened. But Ulysses is a major contributor to the success of this institution and he's going to be sorely missed."
CAPTION: Ulysses B. Hammond