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Roberts Taps First Woman to Lead Courts’ Administrative Arm (1)

Jan. 5, 2021, 7:03 PM; Updated: Jan. 5, 2021, 9:04 PM

Roslynn R. Mauskopf, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, will become the first woman to lead the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Chief Justice John Roberts announced Tuesday.

Mauskopf will become director of the federal judiciary’s administrative arm in February following the retirement of its current director, James Duff, at the end of the month, Roberts said in a written statement. Duff’s retirement marks the end of his second term leading the administrative office.

Mauskopf will step down from the seat on the federal bench she’s served in since being nominated in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Mauskopf’s appointment as AO director will create a unique kind of vacancy on the Eastern District of New York, which includes Brooklyn and Long Island. The president can appoint an additional judge to the district, but if Mauskopf decides to return to the bench, the president won’t be able to fill the next vacancy.

“I am delighted to welcome Chief Judge Mauskopf to succeed Director Duff. She brings a wealth of talent and experience to the position, and her experience as a district judge will give her a valuable perspective in addressing the issues that the Judiciary faces now and in the years ahead,” Roberts said. As Chief Justice, Roberts selects the director.

Mauskopf served as an assistant district attorney and as New York’s state inspector general and then as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York from 2002 to 2007. She is a graduate of Brandeis University and Georgetown University’s law school.

“I have gained a deep respect for the outstanding men and women who serve in the Judicial Branch through my years of service as a federal judge and as a United States Attorney. It is an honor to follow Director Duff’s very successful tenure, and I look forward to the challenges ahead,” Mauskopf said in a statement.

Since the Administrative Office’s creation in 1939, there have been 11 directors. Mauskopf is the fourth director Roberts has appointed during his tenure as Chief Justice. The director’s responsibilities include serving as a liaison between the courts and Congress and preparing and submitting the judicial branch’s budget.

During his current term as director that began in 2015, Duff oversaw major issues like workplace conduct reform and the judiciary’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. His previous term was from 2006 to 2011.

Prior to becoming director of the federal judiciary, Duff was a managing partner at Baker & Donelson and served as Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist’s administrative assistant. In between his two terms as director, Duff was president and CEO of the Freedom Forum and CEO of the Newseum.

In a statement, Duff said he was “grateful” to have been a part of the judiciary’s “efforts to maintain the public’s trust through many challenges, including government shutdowns and the public health emergency.”

“I look forward to other ways to serve the Judiciary in retirement and in private life,” he said.

(Updates with additional reporting throughout.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com

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