This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.
New Director of the Administrative Office Named
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., has named James C. Duff as the director
of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO). The Chief Justice made the
announcement and introduced Duff to employees on April 20, at the AO's
headquarters in the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington,
DC. Standing with Duff and the Chief Justice was Leonidas Ralph Mecham, the
current director of the AO who Duff will succeed. Mecham will retire this summer
after nearly 21 years as director.
Duff, who has over 30 years of legislative, litigation, and management
experience in Washington, DC, comes to the position from the Baker, Donelson,
Bearman, Caldwell, and Berkowitz law firm, where he has served as the managing
partner of its Washington, DC office for six years.
"I look forward to good working relations with the other two branches of
government to effectuate what Justice Jackson and later Chief Justice Rehnquist
referred to as the 'separate but interdependent' nature of the branches of our
government," Duff said in remarks delivered to AO employees. "Those of you who
have labored here for years know firsthand how interdependent our branches are,
particularly those of you who work on the Judiciary's budget."
The director of the AO serves as the chief administrative officer of the
federal courts under the direction and supervision of the Judicial Conference of
the United States, the principal policy-making body for the federal court
Duff will be responsible for the management of the AO with approximately 900
employees, and for providing legal counsel to the Judiciary and administrative
support to approximately 2,000 judicial officers and 30,000 court employees.
Duff will serve as advocate and liaison for the judicial branch in its relations
with Congress, including working with Congressional committees to secure the
Judiciary's annual appropriation. He also will be responsible for executing the
Judiciary's $6 billion dollar annual budget.
In announcing his selection, the Chief Justice noted, "Jim Duff is uniquely
qualified to lead the Administrative Office at this critical time. He has proven
himself to be a dedicated public servant on behalf of the Judiciary. I am
delighted that he has agreed to take on this responsibility and certain that he
will do an excellent job."
Duff has served under two other Chief Justices. He was Chief Justice William
H. Rehnquist's administrative assistant from 1996-2000, serving as the chief of
staff at the Supreme Court and as liaison to the other two branches of
government on behalf of the Chief Justice. He began his career as an office and
courtroom assistant to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger from 1975-1979, while
attending law school.
After graduating from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1981, Duff
became an associate and then a partner at Clifford & Warnke. There his
practice focused on antitrust litigation and legislative matters until 1991 when
most of the firm merged with Howrey & Simon. He continued with Howrey &
Simon until 1996 when Chief Justice Rehnquist appointed him to be his
administrative assistant. He joined Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, and
Berkowitz in 2000, where he has represented clients in various legislative,
corporate, and litigation matters. His clients have included the Federal Judges
Association, the University of Kentucky, the NCAA, and The Freedom Forum and
Duff graduated from the University of Kentucky Honors Program in 1975 where
he was Phi Beta Kappa, and received a J.D. from the Georgetown Law Center in
1981. He has taught Constitutional Law at Georgetown University since 1999, and
has served on several boards, including the Capital Hospice Foundation, the
Supreme Court Historical Society, and the Lawyers' Committee of the National
Center for State Courts. Chief Justice Rehnquist appointed him to chair the
Supreme Court Fellows Commission in 2005.