Judge Carolyn Dineen King Honored with Devitt Award

Article excerpt

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, court systems from Houston, Texas, to Jackson, Mississippi, were left in varying degrees of disarray, with the New Orleans home of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit hardest hit. The remarkable foresight of Fifth Circuit Judge Carolyn Dineen King, however, had prepared the circuit court for just such a calamity and virtually without delay the court reopened to preserve the rule of law uninterrupted. As the first female chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Judge King had mandated that all Fifth Circuit courts develop and maintain Continuity of Operations Plans and Occupant Emergency Plans.

Judge King's devotion to the well being of the court system and to the individuals who work in the courts, coupled with her dedication to preserving and strengthening the administration of justice, has brought the highest praise from her colleagues and receipt of the 25th Annual Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award.

The Devitt Award is named for the late Edward J. Devitt, longtime chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. The award, made annually, honors Article III judges whose careers have been exemplary, measured by their significant contributions to the administration of justice, the advancement of the rule of law, and the improvement of society as a whole. It is administered by AJS with funding provided by the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation of Minneapolis. Judge King was selected by a panel consisting of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Chief Judge Deanell Reece Tacha of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and Judge Gérard E. Lynch of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

President Jimmy Carter appointed Carolyn Dineen King to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on July 13, 1979. She became the first female chief judge of that court on January 16, 1999, and served in that position until January 15, 2006.

As Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit, Judge King became a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States and in 2002 was appointed by Chief Justice William Rehnquist as the first woman to chair the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference. …