WASHINGTON, D.C. - 03/30/2017 (PRESS RELEASE JET) — The Honorable Arthur L. Burnett, SR, Retired Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Vice President of Administration, National Executive Director and National Spokesman for the National African American Drug Policy Coalition Inc. was selected as Top Judge of the Year for 2017 by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP).
While inclusion with the International Association of Top Professionals is an honor in itself, only a few members in each discipline are chosen for this distinction. These special honorees are distinguished based on their professional accomplishments, academic achievements, leadership abilities, longevity in the field, other affiliations and contributions to their communities. All honorees are invited to attend the IAOTP’s annual award gala at the end of this year for a night to honor their achievements.
With almost six (6) decades of professional experience in the Legal Field, the Honorable Arthur L. Burnett has certainly proved himself as an extraordinary professional, and expert in the field. Mr. Burnett is a dynamic, results-driven leader who has demonstrated success not only within the Judicial System but has impacted society on a global level. He has visited and consulted with judges from foreign countries and served as a briefing judge for the U.S. Department of State in advising foreign judges on the operations of the legal and judicial system of the United States. Stephanie Cirami, Vice President of IAOTP states, “Choosing Mr. Burnett for this honor was an easy decision for our panel to make. His longevity in the field really sets him apart and he has tremendous foresight, extensive knowledge, and is a visionary of his time. We are truly honored to have him as our Top Judge of the Year and we know we will be seeing more great things from this man!”
Mr. Burnett commenced his legal career after graduating from Howard University summa cum laude with a major in political science and minor in economics. In his junior year he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and attended New York University School of Law in a six-year college-law combination program, receiving his college degree in October 1957 and receiving his law degree in June 1958 from New York University, graduating in the top 10% of his class and as a Founders’ Day Award Recipient. Mr. Burnett completed 7 years of college and law school work in only 6 calendar years. .He was also Associate Research Editor of its Law Review.
Mr. Burnett began in the Attorney General’s Honors Program at the United States Department of Justice in the Criminal Division in June 1958 but was shortly thereafter drafted into the United States Army November 18, 1958 while endeavoring to obtain a "Judge Advocate General’s Corps Commission" in the United States Air Force, having passed the Bar of the District of Columbia October 20, 1958. He became a Second Lieutenant in the Adjutant General Corps and received the Army Commendation Medal from the Secretary of U.S. Army for his exceptional performance of duty. He continued to serve in the Ready Reserve and was promoted to First Lieutenant and finally resigned his Commission when he was appointed United States Magistrate in June 1969. In civilian life in December 1960 he returned to the U.S. Department of Justice and in January 1961 became liaison from the Criminal Division to the Attorney General of the United States to keep him and the Deputy Attorney General advised of significant developments in all the major criminal cases and also to monitor the Martin Luther King Civil Rights Movement. In April 1965 he became an Assistant United States Attorney in Washington, District of Columbia serving as a Senior Prosecutor and in December 1968 he became the first General Counsel – then called Legal Advisor – of the Metropolitan Police Department in the District of Columbia.
On June 26, 1969 he was appointed the first African American United States Magistrate – a position subsequently renamed by Congress as “United States Magistrate Judge” in the United States, in which capacity he served until December 1975. He then became the Legal Advisor for the United States Civil Service System and served as a principal legal advisor to the President of the United States on all civil service and personnel law issues in dealing with all bills pending before the U.S. Congress dealing with government reorganization and the federal personnel system.
In January 1980 he was again appointed United States Magistrate (now called United States Magistrate Judges) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, where he served until appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in November 1987. He retired in October 1998 from active Associate Judge status and became a Senior Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and continued to serve actively hearing cases until August 1, 2004. During this period Mr. Burnett also served as Judge-in-Residence to the Children’s Defense Fund, and as Co-Chair of its Judges’ program in the Children’s Defense Fund, where he advised on proposed legislation, ran seminars and conferences at the Alex Haley Farm retreat in Tennessee, and was a speaker or on panels.
While retaining the status of a Senior Judge, on August 1, 2004 he took a Sabbatical from the Bench and assumed the position of National Executive Director of The National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc. in which position he now serves. He served as an Adjunct Law Professor in Trial Advocacy at Howard University School of Law from 1998 – 2011. He also served as an Adjunct Law Professor at the Columbus School of Law, Catholic University, from 1997 to 2008. On February 15, 2013 he officially completely retired from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
Throughout his illustrious career, Mr. Burnett has received numerous awards and has been recognized worldwide for his outstanding leadership and commitment to the profession. In 1963 while Arthur was working as an Adviser directly to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, he received the Sustained Superior Performance Award for his work in keeping the Attorney General advised of developments in major government corruption cases and in monitoring the Martin Luther King Civil Rights Movement. In December 1978 he was awarded the Distinguished Civil Service Award for his work in advising the old U.S. Civil Service Commission and the President of the United States in securing the passage of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. In 1985 he was recognized by the American Bar Association’s National Conference of Special Court Judges as the Most Outstanding Special Court Judge in America for his leadership role as one of the United States Magistrates in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for his work in upgrading the old U.S. Commissioner system and leadership in converting the United States Magistrate system into the misdemeanor trial court in the federal system, giving real substance to preliminary hearings, reforming the arrest and search warrant operations and his leadership in education of Magistrate Judges and influencing legislative developments. In 1999 he was recognized as being one of the three (3) Most Outstanding General Jurisdiction Judges hearing all types of cases in America by the American Bar Association’s National Conference of State Trial Court Judges for his judicial performance on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. In 2005 he was Awarded the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession Spirit of Excellence Award for his civil rights history and judicial performance, one of the highest and most prestigious Awards given by the American Bar Association. In 2009 he was acknowledged as a WAYMAKER in the American Bar Association Judges’ Journal for his civil rights history and judicial performance in an extensive interview of his life’s history. Finally, in 2010 he was recognized by Cambridge’s Who’s Who as one of the most knowledgeable experts in the United States on the drug laws and policies of this Nation and the application of the criminal and juvenile justice system and related healthcare issues involving treatment for substance use disorders and mental health conditions.
Now retired, Mr. Burnett continues to serve as the National Executive Director of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc. and as a citizen volunteer advisor to several offices in The White House and to a number of Federal Government Departments and Agencies. He was recently appointed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia to a part-time position as a Member of the District of Columbia Commission on Fathers, Men and Boys. He serves on a number of other non-profit entities dealing with youth, substance abuse, mental health conditions, and juvenile and criminal justice issues.
Looking back, Mr. Burnett attributes his success to his integrity, his passion for the law and the support of his lovely wife and family. For the future he will continue to grow as a professional, fight for justice and continue to improve lives anyway that he can.
For more information on Judge Burnett please visit: https://ballotpedia.org/Arthur_Burnett_Sr.
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