James C. Duff

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James C. Duff
Known forDirector of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

James C. Duff is the director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. He was appointed to the position by Chief Justice John Roberts effective January 1, 2015. This is Duff's second appointment to lead the Administrative Office. He previously served as director from 2006 to 2011.

Duff is responsible for the management of the Administrative Office, which has approximately 1,000 employees, and for providing administrative support to 2,400 judicial officers, and nearly 29,000 court employees. He serves as liaison for the judicial branch in its relations with Congress, including working with congressional committees to secure the Judiciary's annual appropriation and executing the Judiciary's budget of approximately $7 billion annually.

The director of the Administrative Office is the chief administrative officer of the federal courts. He serves under the direction of the Judicial Conference of the United States,[1] the principal policy-making body for the federal court system. The Chief Justice is the presiding officer of the Conference, which is composed of the chief judges of the 13 courts of appeals, a district judge from each of the 12 geographic circuits, and the chief judge of the Court of International Trade. The Chief Justice selects the director.

The Newseum[edit]

From September 2011 to December 2014, Duff was chief executive officer of the Newseum, an interactive museum of news in Washington, D.C., that promotes free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; president and CEO of the museum's Newseum Institute, which serves as a forum for First Amendment study, exploration and education; and president and CEO of the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation that supports education about the First Amendment.

Education and early career[edit]

Duff graduated magna cum laude from the University of Kentucky Honors Program in 1975 with a degree in political science and philosophy, where he was Phi Beta Kappa. He also was a walk-on on the university's basketball team.[2]

After studying at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1974, he returned to the U.S. in 1975 and worked for four years as an aide in the chambers of Chief Justice Warren E. Burger.[3] He graduated from Georgetown Law in 1981,[4] then worked at the law firm Clifford and Warnke, where in 1990 he became a partner.

In 1991, a large contingent of Clifford and Warnke lawyers and staff, including Duff, merged with the firm of Howrey and Simon,[5] where he practiced antitrust, commercial litigation, and international trade until 1996.

Legal and political career[edit]

From 1996 to 2000, Duff was Chief Justice William Rehnquist's Administrative Assistant, now called "Counselor to the Chief Justice,"[4] serving as his liaison with the other branches of government and as executive director of the Judicial Fellows Commission. He preceded Sally Rider as the Chief Justice's chief of staff,[6] in which Duff assisted Rehnquist in his roles as chair of the Judicial Conference of the United States and the Federal Judicial Center Board. He also served as counselor to the Chief Justice as presiding officer of the U.S. Senate's 1999 presidential impeachment trial.

From 2000 to 2006, Duff served as the managing partner of the Washington office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, which was opened by former Majority Leader Howard Baker Jr.[7][8] There he represented the Federal Judges Association before Congress[9] as well as the Freedom Forum.[citation needed]. He also represented the University of Kentucky's federal government interests in Washington and at the request of NCAA President Myles Brand, in 2006 he authored an overview and report to the NCAA on its rules and procedures. Duff has taught constitutional law at Georgetown University as an adjunct professor. He was named the Peter Mullen Professor of Law at Georgetown University for the fall of 2014 and previously served as the first lecturer of the Giles Seminar at Georgetown for two years.

In September 2005, Duff was a pallbearer at Rehnquist's funeral,[3][10] alongside seven of Rehnquist's former law clerks. Duff authored a tribute to Chief Justice Rehnquist in the November 2005 edition of the Harvard Law Review [11] and spoke at the unveiling Ceremony for the William H. Rehnquist bust in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court in December 2009.

From July 2006 through September 15, 2011, Duff served as Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. He was appointed in April 2006 by United States Chief Justice John Roberts.[12] On May 31, 2011, Duff announced[13] that he was stepping down to assume the position of CEO at the Freedom Forum.

He was appointed to the Georgetown Law Center's Board of Visitors in 2014 and serves on the boards of Freedom House, the Supreme Court Historical Society and the University of Kentucky Arts & Sciences Advisory Board. He was named to the University of Kentucky Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2012 and was given the Georgetown Entertainment and Media Law Achievement Award in 2012. Duff was elected to the membership at the American Law Institute in 2016.[citation needed]

On November 4, 2014, it was announced by Chief Justice John Roberts that Duff would once again become Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, effective January 1, 2015. He succeeded Director Judge John D. Bates.[14][15]

Personal life[edit]

Duff and his wife, Kathleen Gallagher Duff, live in Bethesda, Maryland, and have three children.[12]


  1. ^ "Membership".
  2. ^ "Ex-UK basketball walk-on Jim Duff has made a big mark in a different 'court'". Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  3. ^ a b Davis, Marcia (September 5, 2005). "One Man's Unwavering Constitution". The Washington Post. pp. C1. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
  4. ^ a b "New Administrative Assistant Begins Duties at Supreme Court". Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  5. ^ Walsh, Sharon (December 1991). "Warnke, Others Leave Clark Clifford Law Firm." The Washington Post. C1. ProQuest. Retrieved on 2008-05-02.
  6. ^ "New Administrative Assistant at Supreme Court". Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  7. ^ "Chief Justice Roberts Appoints Jim Duff of Baker Donelson to U.S. Courts Director Position". www.BakerDonelson.com. 2006-05-12. Archived from the original on October 26, 2006. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  8. ^ "Noted ...." Wall Street Journal. April 25, 2006: B11. ProQuest. Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
  9. ^ "Federal Judges Association Newsletter". November 30, 2004. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  10. ^ McGough, Michael (September 7, 2005). "Rehnquist lies in state". Post Gazette. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
  11. ^ Duff, James C. 2005. "In Memoriam: William H. Rehnquist." Harvard Law Review, volume 119, issue 1, p. 16-19 [1]
  12. ^ a b Arberg, Kathy (April 2006). Press Release. (HTML). Retrieved on 2008-05-08
  13. ^ "Administrative Office Head, Jim Duff, Announces Resignation". United States Courts. May 31, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
  14. ^ "James C. Duff to Return as AO Director in January 2015". uscourts.gov. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  15. ^ "Press Release". Supreme Court of the United States. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.

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