Six Receive Director’s Award for Leadership, Excellent Service
Six federal Judiciary employees have received the 2017 Director’s Awards, which recognize outstanding performance in the federal courts nationwide.
The recipients were nominated by colleagues based on career achievements and contributions to specific projects that have benefited their home courts and the federal Judiciary as a whole.
“The Director’s Awards represent the very best achievements of the Judiciary’s exceptionally dedicated work force,” said James C. Duff, Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. “They recognize the recipients’ outstanding leadership, innovation and efficiency, and their commitment to delivering the best possible service to the public.”
The awards were granted in five areas: “Outstanding Leadership,” “Excellence in Court Administration,” “Excellence in Court Technology,” “Excellence in Court Operations/Mission Requirements,” and “Director’s Award for Extraordinary Actions.”
The Outstanding Leadership award, which had two recipients, is given to candidates who lead national endeavors to improve the federal Judiciary; exhibit exemplary stewardship of resources; lead innovations that improve service and use of resources; improve public access to and awareness of the role of the Judiciary; and enhance the image of the federal Judiciary.
The Excellence awards are based on a candidate’s demonstrated history of conducting court operations with economy and efficiency; fostering innovations that improve service locally or throughout the Judiciary; and enhancing the public’s awareness and image of the federal Judiciary.
The following are summaries of the 2017 recipients’ achievements:
David Tighe, Circuit Executive for the Tenth Circuit, has led a broad range of cost-saving and efficiency initiatives.
He has served on the Judiciary’s Budget and Finance Advisory Council, the Financial Managers Working Group, the Circuit Rent Budget Working Group, and spearheaded efforts to share administrative services throughout all units of the Tenth Circuit
“Dave has long exemplified the attributes of a great leader, both locally and nationally,” wrote Court of Appeals Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich in Tighe’s nominating letter, “earning the respect of judges, colleagues and staff.”
As a member of the Senior Judge Working Group, Tighe played an integral role in developing new standards for certifying staffing for senior judges. He also worked with smaller bankruptcy courts to consider consolidating administrative structures with district and other bankruptcy courts.
Tighe also has sponsored and led circuit-wide and national conferences on employee dispute resolution and handling misconduct and disability matters.
Kathleen Campbell, Clerk of Court for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, has led innovative use of staff sharing on a national scale, and helped pioneer services for those filing without lawyers.
A nominating letter written by Chief Bankruptcy Judge Sheri Bluebond called Campbell “a respected leader among her fellow bankruptcy clerks and an invaluable resource to the bankruptcy community.”
Using JShare, a Judiciary online service, Campbell’s court offered such services to other courts as staff development and training, information technology, web design, and space and facilities. Providing these services on a contract basis enabled other courts to accomplish important goals without hiring new staff, while minimizing layoffs in the Central District of California.
Partnering with the Districts of New Jersey and New Mexico, and the Administrative Office, Campbell’s court helped create electronic self-representation software that dramatically reduced filing errors. The court, which has a large percentage of filers who lack a lawyer, has actively communicated its self-representation services to the public.
Excellence in Court Administration
Steven Larimore, Clerk of Court for the Southern District of Florida, has reduced building space, operated a busy court smoothly and efficiently, and worked with bar leaders to promote awareness of the federal Judiciary.
“He has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills that have allowed him to effectively govern one of the nation’s most demanding trial courts,” Chief District Judge K. Michael Moore wrote, adding that Larimore’s achievements “have had an impact well beyond the district.”
Larimore, who has served on numerous national advisory committees, led an ambitious space redesign in which the district gave up 47,000 square feet of space in three buildings, saving $1.4 million annually.
Excellence in Court Technology
Paul Neely, IT Security Officer for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida, is a nationally recognized leader in the development of IT security policies and assessments.
According to a letter signed by Traci E. Abrams, Bankruptcy Court clerk, and Karen K. Specie, chief bankruptcy judge, Neely “is a nationally recognized leader in the development of information technology security policies and assessments. Paul’s diligent research, work and documentation in IT security, along with his willingness to share his knowledge and experience, has allowed courts [nationally] to meet critical IT security requirements.”
A security guide he wrote for his court is used as a template for other courts to follow. It is especially noted as being “written in plain language and easily understandable by staff,” the letter said. “The utilization of Paul’s talents allowed the Judiciary to better ensure that its employees and constituents remain free from the delays and costs” associated with security breaches.
Excellence in Court Operations/Mission Requirements
Sara Mainquist, Pro Se Law Clerk for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, has helped her court, and federal courts across the country, better manage lawsuits filed by prison inmates who do not have a lawyer.
According to a letter signed by Chief District Judge Lee Rosenthal, Senior Judge Nancy F. Atlas, and District Judge Keith P. Ellison, Mainquist “is, quite simply, the model of what a pro se law clerk should be.”
Mainquist trains all new pro se law clerks in the Southern District of Texas, which has one of the nation’s highest state and federal inmate populations. In addition to handling a full case load, Mainquist helps manage the case flow of other pro se law clerks, to ensure efficient case allocation. She also provides assistance to court staff districtwide, and handles especially complex cases.
Nationally, she has assisted efforts to improve management of staffing and financial resources in pro se prisoner cases, serving on management review teams and as a subject matter expert for staffing formula revisions.
Director’s Award for Extraordinary Actions
Karen Frost, Intensive Supervision Specialist for the Pretrial Services Office of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, was credited with saving the life of a defendant, through her cool-headed response to a suicide attempt.
On Dec. 14, 2016, Frost received a phone call at 9 p.m. from the defendant, who was despondent and said she had no reason to live. During the call, Frost heard what sounded like a pill bottle.
After learning that the defendant had swallowed 30 pills, Frost called the sheriff’s department on a second phone, while continuing a conversation with the defendant. She advised law enforcement of the home’s layout, and said she had not seen firearms on the premises.
The defendant fell unconscious and was placed on life support. Thanks to Frost’s quick response, she was revived, and gradually improved after receiving mental health treatment. The defendant eventually was sentenced to five years’ probation.