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U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance to be Honored at U.S. Supreme Court with America's Highest Federal Judiciary Award

PHOENIX, Sept. 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation announced today that Judge Sarah S. Vance, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, is the 2022 recipient of the federal judiciary's highest honor – the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award.

Judge Vance will be honored at a ceremony opened by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in the Supreme Court courtroom, followed by a reception and dinner. 

Justice Kavanaugh, appointed to Chair the Devitt selection committee for 2022-23 by Chief Justice Roberts, chose judges from the lower courts to assist him in selecting this year's honoree. His committee consisted of Judge Britt C. Grant, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and Judge Christopher R. Cooper, United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Judge Vance was nominated by Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn, United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Her nomination was supported by more than 60 federal judges who presented lengthy documentation and praise for their colleague's outstanding performance, dedication, and service to the rule of law for the last 26 years.

In acknowledging her honor, Justice Kavanaugh said, "Judge Sarah Vance is an extraordinary federal judge who has devoted her career to improving the administration of justice and safeguarding the American rule of law.  In her home state of Louisiana, she has served as a federal district judge for almost three decades, including as Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Louisiana from 2008 to 2015."  

Justice Kavanaugh added, "Judge Vance is well known for her razor-sharp intellect, astounding work ethic, sound judgment, and superb judicial temperament. Judge Vance has also played a vital role in the administration and governance of the federal judiciary, including as a member of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference, as Chair of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, and a member of the Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group, among many other contributions." 

Judge Vance said in a statement, "I am overwhelmed at the thought of joining the pantheon of judges who have received the Devitt Award. My heartfelt thanks go to Justice Kavanaugh and the Devitt Award Committee for choosing me for this singular honor. My entire judicial career has been a happy collaboration with my law clerks and staff, and the many dedicated judges and staff members who worked beside me in the Eastern District of Louisiana." She added, "The Devitt Award is the capstone of a judicial career that has already been highly rewarding. The news that I would receive it leaves me elated and immensely grateful that I have had the opportunity to serve as a federal judge."

The award was established in 1982 by Dwight D. Opperman while he was Chairman and CEO of West Publishing Company – creators of WestLaw. Mr. Opperman, the legal and judiciary community's greatest innovator and philanthropist of his day, was encouraged by Chief Justice Warren Burger to create an award that would honor the unsung heroes of the American judiciary. The Devitt Award epitomizes the highest standard of the federal bench.  Dwight Opperman passed away in 2013, but the award continues in perpetuity through the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation, chaired by Julie Opperman.  

"Judge Sarah Vance follows in the footsteps of the 2020-2021 Devitt Award honorees, Senior U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel, who grew up in Nazi Germany and later became the first woman to serve as a director of the Federal Judicial Center; and trailblazer and role model in the legal profession, Judge Julia Gibbons, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit," Julie Opperman said. "Judge Vance's incredible story began in Donaldsville, Louisiana, when she was born to a WWII veteran father and Italian immigrant mother. Her parents' belief in the American dream, and their daughter's determination and dedication to do the work, made her not only first in her class at Louisiana State University and Tulane Law School, but also positioned her at the very top of the American judiciary."

Justice Kavanaugh stated, "With my fellow selection members, Judges Britt Grant and Christopher Cooper, I am honored to recognize and thank one of America's most distinguished judges, the Honorable Sarah Vance."

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SOURCE Dwight D. Opperman Foundation