Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.) appointed Chair of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary
Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), of counsel in Jones Day's Chicago Office, has been appointed Chair of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.
As Chair, Judge Williams oversees the work of the committee, which evaluates the professional qualifications of all Article III nominees to the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States circuit courts of appeals, the United States district courts (including territorial courts), and the Court of International Trade. The Committee consists of sixteen members—two members from the Ninth Circuit, one member from each of the other federal judicial circuits, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Committee, and three special advisors.
The American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary has conducted independent peer evaluations of the professional qualifications of nominees to the federal bench since 1953. In conducting its evaluation of each nominee, the Committee focuses strictly on professional qualifications: integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament. The Committee does not consider a nominee's philosophy, political affiliation, or ideology. The Committee's objective is to provide impartial peer evaluations of the professional qualifications of judicial nominees in order to assist the Senate Judiciary Committee in assessing whether such individuals should be confirmed by the Senate. The Committee submits its final rating to the White House, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the United States Department of Justice to assist in the confirmation process. The Committee's performance of its historic role in the evaluation process helps ensure that the most qualified persons serve on the federal judiciary.
Judge Williams, long devoted to promoting the effective delivery of justice worldwide, leads Jones Day's efforts in advancing the rule of law in Africa. She has partnered with judiciaries, attorneys, NGOs, and the U.S. Departments of Justice and State to lead training programs in Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. She also has taught at the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
President Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Williams in 1985 to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, making her the first woman of color to serve on a district court in the three-state Seventh Circuit. In 1999, President Bill Clinton's nomination made her the first judge of color to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the third Black woman to serve on any federal circuit court.
While on the bench, Judge Williams served as chair of the Court Administration and Case Management Committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference from 1993 to 1997, served on the Supreme Court Fellows Program Commission from 2005 to 2011, and served on the Judicial Branch Committee from 2009 to 2018. She was treasurer, president-elect, and president of the Federal Judges Association, where she was the first person of color to become an officer.