In a historic ceremony, conducted virtually on Oct. 16, D.C. Superior Court Associate Judge Anita Josey-Herring became the first African American woman to lead the court as chief judge.

As chief judge, Josey-Herring will serve a four-year term and assign the 61 associate judges of the Superior Court’s nine divisions.

The ceremony took place in H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse in Northwest. The outgoing Chief Judge Robert Morin presided over the event, U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan read the commission of Josey-Herring becoming the chief judge and D.C. Superior Court Senior Judge Herbert Dixon administered the oath while her husband, Albert Herring, held the Bible.

D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, D.C. Superior Court Senior Judge Rhonda Reid Winston and National Legal Aid and Defender Association President Jo-Ann Wallace spoke about the importance of Josey-Herring’s appointment and its meaning for female attorneys and judges. A proclamation from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser praised Josey-Herring’s career while D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge Tara Fentress sang her rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Josey-Herring, in her five-minute address, thanked her colleagues and the residents of the District “for this unique opportunity and solemn responsibility.

“I put my name in for this position because I believe in justice,” she said. “Justice without respect to persons. I believe in equal rights for the rich and the poor and I will defend the U.S. Constitution.”

Josey-Herring said many Washingtonians are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic and stressed that judges understand what they are going through.

“We as judges are called to resolve critical issues for those we serve,” she said. “We serve as the final arbiters on many matters that come before us. Therefore, the public trust in the courts [is] vital to our democracy and I am willing to work across lines for justice for everyone.”

James Wright photo

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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