District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Melvin Wright, the presiding judge of the court's civil division, is up for review and reappointment, according to the local commission responsible for evaluating the city's judges.
Wright is nearing the end of his first 15-year term on the bench. The District of Columbia Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure will review Wright's performance and decide whether to recommend him for reappointment for a second term.
The commission is accepting public comment on Wright by January 4 from lawyers, litigants, interested organizations and other members of the community. Any comments will be kept confidential, according to the commission.
Wright was appointed to the bench in 1998. He began his career in the court 26 years earlier as a clerk in the landlord and tenant and small claims sections, and worked over the next few years as bailiff, civil pretrial clerk, civil courtroom clerk and civil motions clerk.
Following a clerkship in 1981 with now-deceased Superior Court Judge Robert Shuker, Wright served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington until 1986. He worked in private practice at Montedonico, Hamilton & Altman until he was nominated to the court.
Wright has been in the civil division since 2003 and has led the court's busiest division (in terms of cases filed) since spring 2011. As previously reported by The National Law Journal, his contributions to court administration in recent years have included spearheading the creation of a new judicial forum for tenants with grievances against their landlords, known as the Housing Conditions Calendar.
The seven-member commission has three options when it comes to judges up for reappointment in Superior Court and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. If the commission finds Wright "well qualified," his reappointment is automatic. If the commission finds him "qualified," it will be up to the White House to decide whether to nominate and send him through the Senate confirmation process again. If the commission finds him "unqualified," he cannot be nominated again.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler chairs the commission. The commission has four members from the D.C. Bar – William Lightfoot of Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot; Jones Day's Noel Francisco; Shirley Ann Higuchi of the American Psychological Association; and Jeannine Sanford of Bread for the City. Two non-attorneys, Michael Fauntroy and Michael deVere Williams, also serve on the panel.
National Law Journal photo by Diego M. Radzinschi.