Portraits and sculptures of 37 judges who have served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit have been donated to the Court over the years. Normally a judge's law clerks - present and past - collect the funds required to commission an artist to paint a judge's portrait at the time the judge takes senior status, moves to a higher Court, or dies. Most of the portraits grace the walls of the Court of Appeals Courtroom. The portrait of Judge Elijah Barrett Prettyman, the former Chief Judge of the Court for whom the Courthouse is named, is hanging just inside the Constitution Avenue entrance to the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse. All of the other portraits hang in a corridor just behind the Courtroom. Additionally, sculptures of three Court of Appeals judges have been donated to the Court and are included in this exhibit. The sculptures are also on display in the Courthouse.
Typically, a judge and his or her family present the judge's portrait to the Court at an official ceremony attended by the judge's colleagues on the Court, current and former law clerks, friends, and family. At the ceremony, selected judges, lawyers, clerks, and others talk about the judge and her/his career and service. Fortunately, some of the portrait ceremonies were recorded, and transcripts are available. In such cases, the complete transcripts are included in the Society's exhibit.
Photographs of the portraits and busts for this exhibit were taken by Circuit Executive staff. Research about the portraits and portraitists was undertaken by Historical Society staff with assistance from the Circuit Librarian. Biographical information about the judges was provided by the Federal Judicial Center.
Unfortunately, it has not been possible to locate information about all of the portrait artists and sculptors. Research will continue, however, and should any additional information be found, it will be immediately added to the exhibit.
Funds collected for the painting of portraits are held by the Historical Society of the District of Columbia.Circuit. When each portrait or sculpture is donated, it becomes the official property of the Court.
This portrait exhibit is intended to memorialize the judges who have sat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.