About the speaker:
The remarkable legal career of the Honorable Arthur L. Burnett, Sr., Retired Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, has afforded him a direct role in the civil rights movement and legislative reform.
He graduated summa cum laude from Howard University and attended New York University Law School where he was a Founder’s Day Award recipient and served as Associate Research Editor of the Law Review, graduating in the top 10% of his class from in 1958.
In 1963, he served as a liaison for Attorney General Robert Kennedy. He kept the Attorney General advised of developments in Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Movement and was awarded the Sustained Superior Performance Award for that work.
In 1969, he was appointed the first African American U.S. Magistrate – a position renamed by Congress as “United States Magistrate Judge” – and served in this position until 1975.
In 1978, as Legal Advisor for the United States Civil Service System, he served as a principal legal advisor to the President of the United States. Judge Burnett had a direct role in crafting and securing passage of the Civil Service Reform Act, and received the Distinguished Civil Service Award for that work.
Beyond his active role in civil rights, Judge Burnett is recognized as an expert in drug laws and policies and their application in the criminal and juvenile justice system and mental health treatment. He has served a number of non-profit organizations focused on these issues, including as Judge-in-Residence to the Children’s Defense Fund and Co-Chair of its Judges’ program; as National Executive Director of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc.; as a Member of the District of Columbia Commission on Fathers, Men and Boys; and as Adjunct Law Professor in Trial Advocacy at Howard University School of Law.
The American Bar Association acknowledged Judge Burnett as a WAYMAKER in 2009 for the key role he played in civil rights history and for his exemplary judicial performance.