Jim, the son of a naval officer, was born on Parris Island on September 19, 1935. Six
years later Jim’s father was the Public Works Officer on Ford Island, Pearl Harbor,
Hawaii. Jim’s house was located just two battleship lengths away from Battleship Row;
thus, Jim and his family became eyewitnesses to history when the Japanese attacked
Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
In 1942 Jim’s father was transferred to Rhode Island. Jim spent his remaining childhood
in Rhode Island attending public schools including the University of Rhode Island from
which he graduated in 1958 with a BS degree in Accounting. Upon graduation he took a
job with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as an internal auditor. While
working for USDA Jim attended the Georgetown Law Center where he graduated from
its evening division in 1965 with a Juris Doctor degree.
In 1966 and 1967 Jim was assigned to the USDA’s Overseas Audit Branch and became
the Supervisory Auditor-in-Charge of the Branch in 1967. Jim participated and/or
supervised audits in Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela, Chile, Kenya, Israel, India, Iran,
Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In 1968 Jim joined a small group that conducted a management review of the DC Court
System that was requested by the Senate Judiciary Committee and funded primarily by
the Ford Foundation. The study resulted in major recommendations for reorganizing the
courts in the District of Columbia as well as major recommendations for changes in the
courts’ policies and procedures particularly those relating to case management. At the
conclusion of the study the US District Court for the District of Columbia hired Jim in
1969 as the Chief Deputy Clerk of the Clerk’s Office with a mandate to begin
implementing many of the study recommendations. In 1970 when the Clerk retired the
Court appointed Jim as Clerk. Jim served as Clerk until he retired in 1991.
During Jim’s tenure the Clerk’s Office provided major assistance to the Court as it
converted from a master to an individual calendar system. The Clerk’s Office also was of
major assistance to the Court in a number of highly publicized cases including the
Watergate, Pentagon Papers, AT&T, John Hinckley, and Oliver North cases. His Office
was also a leader in computerizing not only the Clerk’s Office but also Judges’
courtrooms and chambers. Additionally, the Clerk’s Office became noted for its
utilization of modern management techniques and its employee centered programs that
rewarded outstanding performance, gave cash for suggestions that led to improvements
and allowed employees very flexible work schedules. The Office’s Career Development
Program produced many capable supervisors and managers several of whom became
Clerks of other Courts and one of whom, Nancy Mayer-Whittington, was appointed
Clerk to succeed Jim when he retired. She became the first female and first non-lawyer to
become Clerk since the Court was founded in 1801.