Richard W. Roberts
|Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia|
|Assumed office |
March 16, 2016
|Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia|
July 15, 2013 – March 16, 2016
|Preceded by||Royce C. Lamberth|
|Succeeded by||Beryl A. Howell|
|Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia|
June 23, 1998 – March 16, 2016
|Appointed by||Bill Clinton|
|Preceded by||Charles Robert Richey|
|Succeeded by||Carl J. Nichols|
Richard Warren Roberts
1953 (age 66–67)
New York City, New York
|Education||Vassar College (A.B.)|
School for International Training (M.I.A.)
Columbia University (J.D.)
Richard Warren Roberts (born 1953) is an inactive Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Roberts was born in New York City, New York and is African American. Both of Roberts's parents were public school teachers. His mother was involved as a chorister at the Metropolitan Opera, and his father was avidly involved with the NAACP and participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. His father also participated in the march in Memphis, Tennessee, after Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Roberts attended the High School of Music and Art in New York City and was a 1970 graduate.
Roberts is a 1974 graduate from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Roberts was awarded an Artium Baccalaureus degree and received cum laude honors there. Originally, Roberts concentrated in mathematics at Vassar but then began a career path in law. He continued his education at both the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, and Columbia Law School in New York City. In 1978, he received a Master of International Affairs from the School for International Training, and a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School.
Organization membership and other titles
In 1983, Roberts helped found the Washington, D.C., chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. The vision of this organization is to help provide more black male role models for children in various communities across the United States. Roberts held the position of deputy general counsel for the Washington, D.C., chapter.
According to the Biography by the National Conference on Citizenship, Roberts has held various academic, community, and legal positions. In academic settings, he served on the Board of Trustees of Vassar College for 12 years and rejoined the Board in 2014, has been a visiting faculty member of the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop for over 30 years, and was an Adjunct Professor of trial practice at Georgetown University Law Center.
Roberts has also held positions on the Board of Directors for the Abramson Scholarship Foundation, as well as the Council for Court Excellence and their executive committee. Roberts used to be a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and co-chaired a local public school restructuring team.
The first position that Roberts held was as a Trial Attorney position for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. He held this position from 1978 to 1982. In this position, Roberts prosecuted the murder of two black Salt Lake City joggers who were killed for racial reasons by Joseph Paul Franklin, a white supremacist.
While prosecuting Franklin, the 27-year-old Roberts met Terry Mitchell, a 16-year-old wounded survivor of Franklin's attack on the joggers and one of two key eyewitnesses at his trial. Mitchell alleges that Roberts raped her repeatedly, "nearly every day for several weeks", before and after the trial. She says he obtained her silence by telling her that if their sexual relationship ever came to light it would surely result in a mistrial for Franklin and his subsequent release.
After his tenure as a trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Roberts joined the international law private practice, Covington & Burling. He was an attorney at Covington & Burling for four years until 1986.
In 1986, Roberts was then appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York He served underneath United States Attorney Rudy Giuliani, who later served as Mayor of New York City. He held the position of Assistant United States Attorney for two years until he was appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, underneath United States Attorney Jay B. Stephens. In 1993, when President Bill Clinton appointed Eric Holder as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Roberts was picked as the Principal Assistant United States Attorney. Roberts held the position of Principal Assistant U.S. Attorney for two years until 1995.
Clinton appointed Roberts to the position of Criminal Section Chief of the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, in 1995. He served in this position for three years until 1998.
President Bill Clinton nominated Roberts to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on January 27, 1998, to a seat vacated by Charles R. Richey. He was then confirmed by the United States Senate on June 5, 1998, received his commission on June 23, 1998 and sworn in on July 31, 1998. He served as Chief Judge from 2013 until he took inactive senior status.
Barring CIA destruction of torture tapes
Roberts issued a court order prohibiting the CIA destroying evidence of its use of interrogations in July 2005. CIA Director Michael V. Hayden acknowledged in December 2007 that the CIA had subsequently destroyed hundreds of hours of tapes of the use of "extended interrogation techniques", including the technique known as "waterboarding", where subjects's lungs are filled with water, so they experience the first stages of drowning.
Many commentators have described the CIA's destruction of this evidence as a violation of Roberts's court order. On January 24, 2008, Roberts demanded an explanation from the CIA for the tapes destruction.
On March 25, 2008 , a lawyer for a Guantanamo captive from Yemen named Hani Abdullah brought suit against the CIA, before Roberts, arguing that the evidence the CIA destroyed would have helped prove his client's innocence.
Roberts oversaw a lawsuit by Abu Zubaydah challenging his detention at Guantanamo Bay detention camps which was filed in July 2008 after the Boumediene v. Bush ruling. As of 2015, the judge had failed to rule on any motions related to the case, even the preliminary ones. This led Zubaydah's lawyers to file motion asking Roberts to recuse himself for "nonfeasance" in January 2015.
Inactive senior status and sexual assault allegation
On March 16, 2016, Roberts took inactive senior status, citing unspecified health issues. Judge Karen L. Henderson signed Robert's certificate of disability, allowing him to take early senior status. That same day, Terry Mitchell, the eyewitness from the Franklin trial, filed a federal civil rights suit against him, accusing him of repeatedly raping her when she was a witness in a high-profile Utah murder case 35 years earlier. Roberts's lawyers told members of the press that their client, who was 27 and unmarried at the time, did indeed have a consensual sexual relationship with Mitchell but that it occurred after the trial ended. The complaint was closed March 18, 2016 due to Roberts' retirement.
Montgomery Blair Sibley, the last lawyer for the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, sued Roberts for his prolonged failure to file his request to have a gag order lifted, that forced him to keep Palfrey's customer list private. Palfrey was a prominent arranger of trysts with high class call girls, and her client list is believed to be packed with highly placed Washington insiders. In April 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the request to lift the lower court order, in place since 2007, that bars Sibley from releasing any information about her records.
Awards and honors
For Roberts's prosecutorial efforts against Joseph Paul Franklin, the U.S. Attorney General awarded him with a special commendation. Roberts also graduated cum laude from Vassar College in 1974 with a bachelor's degree. When Roberts was a civil rights prosecutor in the Justice Department, he was hired into the Attorney General's Honors Program.
- "The Honorable Richard W. Roberts". The HistoryMakers. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- "Richard W. Roberts". Just The Beginning Foundation. Archived from the original on 18 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- "Roberts, Richard W. - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov.
- "Hon. Richard W. Roberts". National Conference on Citizenship. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- "A Conversation with Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts". Council for Court Excellence. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- "Serial Killer's Survivor: Prosecutor Raped Me During the Trial". The Daily Beast.
Matt Apuzzo (2008-01-25). "Judge seeking details on CIA tapes". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
Several judges are considering wading into the dispute over the videos, but U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts was the first to order the administration to provide a written report on the matter. The decision is a legal setback for the Bush administration, which has urged courts not to get involved.
Mark Mazzetti, Scott Shane (2008-03-28). "Tapes' Destruction Hovers Over Detainee Cases". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
One of the court orders, issued in July 2005 by Judge Richard W. Roberts of the Federal District Court in Washington, required the preservation of all evidence related to Hani Abdullah, the Yemeni prisoner at Guantánamo, who is accused of attending a Qaeda training camp in 2001 and other offenses. Judge Roberts said in a January order that Mr. Abdullah’s lawyers had made a plausible case that Abu Zubaydah would have been asked about their client in interrogations.
- Carol D. Leonnig (December 22, 2007). "Detainee Evidence Probe Weighed: Judge Told Guantanamo Information May Have Been Destroyed". Washington Post. p. A02. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
"U.S. judge orders White House to explain destruction of CIA tapes". CBC News. 2008-01-25. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
There's enough there that it's worth asking" whether other videos or documents were also destroyed, said attorney , who represents Guantanamo Bay detainee Hani Abdullah. "I don't know the answer to that question, but the government does know the answer and now they have to tell Judge Roberts.
"Destroyed tapes come back to vex CIA". United Press International. 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
In a suit brought by Hani Abdullah, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a federal judge has raised the possibility that the U.S. spy agency violated a court order to preserve all evidence relevant to the prisoner by destroying the tapes, The New York Times reported Friday.[permanent dead link]
- Romboy, Dennis (Mar 17, 2016). "D.C. judge resigns on same day Utahn accuses him of decades-old rape". KSL.com.
- "Richard W. Roberts". Washington, D.C.: Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
- "Murder trial witness on alleged 1981 rape by prosecutor: 'He derailed my life'". Retrieved 2017-12-08.
- Ann E. Marimow (16 March 2016). "Chief judge of the District's federal court retires as lawsuit accuses him of sexual assault". The Washington Post.
- "Sex assault case against Judge Richard Roberts closed". Associated Press/. March 22, 2016.
Neal Augenstein (2016-02-09). "Ex-lawyer for 'D.C. Madam' has names, not just client phone numbers". WTOP. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
Citing the restraining orders, Sibley has declined to disclose which, if any presidential candidates might be affected by the names on the CD.
Neal Augenstein (2016-02-23). "Ex-lawyer for 'D.C. Madam' sues federal chief judge, clerk for $1 million each". WTOP. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
Without providing any specifics, Sibley has contended that information found within Palfrey’s escort service records could affect the 2016 presidential election.
- "SCOTUS Denies Request from D.C. Madam's Attorney to Release Info". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-04-05..
- "Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts". U.S. District Court, District of Columbia. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- Richard W. Roberts at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
- Hays, Michael. "A Conversation with Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts." Council for Court Excellence. The Council for Court Excellence. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.courtexcellence.org/news-events/a-conversation-with-chief-judge-richard-w-roberts>
- The History Makers. (n.d.). Hon. Richard W. Roberts | The History Makers. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/honorable-richard-w-roberts
- History of the Federal Judiciary. (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://www.fjc.gov/servlet/nGetInfo?jid=2777&cid=202&ctype=dc&instate=dc&highlight=null
- Just The Beginning Foundation: Richard W. Roberts. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://www.jtb.org/index.php?src=directory&view=biographies&srctype=detail&refno=152
Charles Robert Richey
| Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Carl J. Nichols
Royce C. Lamberth
| Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Beryl A. Howell