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‘Humbled’ Judge Hogan Receives Devitt Award, Warns of ‘Crossroads’ for Courts

AO Director Thomas F. Hogan, second from left, is flanked by the committee that gave him the Devitt Award. From left, they are Joel F. Dubina, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; Lisa Godbey Wood, chief judge of the U.S. Dis

AO Director Thomas F. Hogan, second from left, is flanked by the committee that gave him the Devitt Award. From left, they are Joel F. Dubina, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; Lisa Godbey Wood, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia; and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Pronouncing himself “humbled,” Judge Thomas F. Hogan, Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, has received the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award, but he cautioned in remarks that America's federal judges are “nearing a crossroads.”

Named for a longtime federal judge in Minnesota, the Devitt Award honors Article III judges who have made significant contributions to the administration of justice, the advancement of the rule of law, and the improvement of society as a whole. The award, issued by the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation, is widely considered to be the most prestigious honor designated for federal judges.

Speaking at a Dec. 5 ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Hogan, a U.S. District Judge since 1982, put his award in a broader context, citing the growing challenges faced by federal courts.

“This award truly reflects the work of all our Federal Judges who do so much every day for our Country. … Yet today we are under the threat of draconian budget cuts; the sword of sequestration hangs heavy over us. And if implemented, it will slash court services from coast to coast,” Judge Hogan said.

Judge Hogan is the 30th recipient of the Devitt Award. He was selected by a three-member panel that included Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Judge Joel F. Dubina of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and Chief Judge Lisa Godbey Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.

In his remarks, Judge Hogan also told the audience:

“As Director of the Administrative Office, I believe we are nearing a crossroads for the Federal Judiciary. I have seen first-hand the tremendous burdens of the Federal Judiciary – not only budgetary – but also a relentless workload for many of our courts.

“At the same time they have been subject to misguided and even vituperative attacks from all sides – threatening to undermine the confidence of the public in our Courts and in the rule of law.

“This recognition by the Devitt Award of judges helps refute these unfounded attacks on the judiciary. I thank the Oppermans for their support for our Federal Judiciary through this award.”

Appointed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. as director of the AO in 2011, Judge Hogan continues to serve as a senior judge in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and as a member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Judge Hogan was nominated to the U.S. District Court by President Reagan and became chief judge in 2001, according to his official biography. He became a senior judge in 2008.