District of Columbia Superior Court associate judge nominee Robert Okun told a Senate committee Tuesday that a judge's most important qualities are temperament and preparation, and that he is familiar with handling a high work load and pro se litigants, requirements of the position.
"As an assistant U.S. attorney, in the U.S. attorney's office, I've spent a lot of time in the courtroom, and I'm used to making decisions quickly and thinking on my feet," Okun said while testifying on Capitol Hill before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Ultimately, a judge's job is to get it right, no matter how long it takes, Okun said. But a judge can increase efficiency for a high caseload without affecting accuracy by working hard outside the courtroom and knowing the case beforehand.
"Because if the judge is prepared, and the parties are prepared, I think it's much more likely that you'll be able to manage your caseload efficiently and reach the right result," Okun said.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced Okun as "particularly well qualified" because he has a "very well-rounded legal career."
Okun currently is chief of the special proceedings division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, where he oversees all post-conviction motions that are often filed by pro se litigants. He is also a hearing officer for the Board of Professional Responsibilities. He previously served as executive assistant U.S. attorney for operations.
The nomination hearing was the last for committee Chairman Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), who is retiring from the Senate.