Richard W. Roberts

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Richard Roberts
Richard W. Roberts.jpg
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Assumed office
Preceded by Royce C. Lamberth
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Assumed office
June 23, 1998
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by Charles Robert Richey
Personal details
Born 1953 (age 60–61)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Vassar College
School for International Training
Columbia University

Richard W. Roberts (born 1953) is the Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington DC.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Educational career[edit]

Educational career[1][2]
degree date institution
Bachelor 1974 Vassar College
M.I.A. 1975 School for International Training
J.D. 1978 Columbia University

Legal career[edit]

Roberts played a number of different roles in the US justice system prior to his appointment as a judge.[1]

Covington & Burling[edit]

Roberts was an associate at the large, international law firm Covington & Burling.[1]


Roberts has served as an Assistant US Attorney and a Principal Assistant US Attorney.[1]

Department of Justice[edit]

Roberts was the Chief of the Criminal Section in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice for three years.[1][2]

Appointment to the bench[edit]

Roberts was appointed as a US District Court judge in 1998.[1] He became Chief Judge on July 15, 2013.

Roberts's role in the controversy over the CIA's destruction of interrogation tapes[edit]

Roberts issued a court order prohibiting the CIA destroying evidence of its use of interrogations in July 2005.[5] 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.[7]

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.[5]

In December 2007 Charles H. Carpenter (American lawyer), representing a Guantanamo captive from Yemen named Hani Abdullah filed a motion, before Roberts, arguing that the evidence the CIA destroyed would have helped prove his client's innocence.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Judge Richard W. Roberts". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  2. ^ a b c "Richard W. Roberts named Criminal Section Chief in Civil RIghts Division". United States Department of Justice. May 1, 1995. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  3. ^ a b Mark Mazzetti, Scott Shane (March 28, 2008). "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." 
  4. ^ "Destroyed tapes come back to vex CIA". United Press International. March 28, 2008. 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." 
  5. ^ a b c Matt Apuzzo (25 January 2008). "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." 
  6. ^ "U.S. judge orders White House to explain destruction of CIA tapes". CBC News. 25 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-29. "There's enough there that it's worth asking" whether other videos or documents were also destroyed, said attorney Charles H. Carpenter (American lawyer), 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." 
  7. ^ 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.