Interview with Jeffrey Apperson, July 19, 2018

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:01 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: This is an oral history interview with Jeffrey Apperson, Vice President of International Relations for the National Center for State Courts and Chief Executive Officer for the International Association for Court Administration.

Segment Synopsis: Anu Kasarabada introduces Jeffrey Apperson and the topics of the oral history interview.

00:00:46 - Early life / Early career

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Partial Transcript: Um, so let's just start at the beginning.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson discusses his early life in Ohio, his service in the Air Force, and his experiences in college and law school.

Keywords: Law schools; Military service; Night schools; Public service; Zanesville High School

Subjects: Athletic ability; High Point University; Law clerks.; Midwestern State University (Wichita Falls, Tex.); Pi Kappa Alpha; Samford University.; Sheppard Air Force Base (Tex.); Tennis coaches; Tennis.; United States Air Force Academy Assembly; Zanesville (Ohio)

GPS: Zanesville (Ohio)
Map Coordinates: 39.946111, -82.012222
00:07:20 - Working on John Glenn's campaign in Washington, D.C.

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Partial Transcript: But what re--I really became interested in politics.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about his love of politics and public service, and how both spurred him to move to Washington, D.C., where he began his career on Senator John Glenn's presidential campaign.

Keywords: Attorney Adviser for the Inspector General Office; Chief Justice Burger; Ethical violations; Federal judges; Inspector General's Office; Investigations; Recession of 1982; Washington, D.C.

Subjects: Burger, Warren E., 1907-1995; Glenn, Annie, 1920-; Glenn, John, 1921-2016; Judges--United States.; Political campaigns.; Recessions.; Wallace, George C. (George Corley), 1919-1998.; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.904722, -77.016389
00:11:13 - Inspector General's Office for the federal courts

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Partial Transcript: So I, I had a friend, um, who was a chief probation officer in Rhode Island...

Segment Synopsis: Apperson describes how he obtained his first position in the Judicial Branch, as an attorney advisor in the newly created Inspector General's Office for the Courts. He then describes why Chief Justice Warren Burger created the office and how investigations worked.

Keywords: Attorney Advisors; Chief Justice Burger; Ethical violations; Federal judges; Inspector General's Office; Investigations

Subjects: Burger, Warren E., 1907-1995; Judges--United States.

GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.904722, -77.016389
00:18:50 - Alcee Hastings investigation

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Partial Transcript: Let's go to the Alcee Hastings investigation.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson discusses his role in the investigation of Alcee Hastings, the then-District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida. Hastings was later impeached by Congress. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1993 from Florida's 20th district.

Keywords: Allegations; Attorneys; Ethical violations; Reports; Restoration and forgiveness

Subjects: Hastings, Alcee L.; Impeachments.; Investigations.; Judges--United States.; Lawyers.

GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.904722, -77.016389
00:23:32 - Working at the Inspector General's Office

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Partial Transcript: Um, let's go back to your attorney general position.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about his three years working Judicial Branch's Inspector General's Office. He specialized in investigating probation courts, bankruptcy courts, and federal district courts.

Keywords: Attorneys; District courts; Financial management; Inspector General's Office; Judicial Conference; Political sensitivities; Probation courts; Travel vouchers

Subjects: Burger, Warren E., 1907-1995.; Investigations.; Judicial administration--United States.; Lawyers.

GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.904722, -77.016389
00:30:35 - Becoming bankruptcy clerk

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Partial Transcript: So you were there for three years.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about leaving his job at the Inspector General's Office to become Bankruptcy Clerk in Louisville, Kentucky.

Keywords: Bankruptcy clerks; Bankruptcy courts; Judge G. William Brown; Judge J. Wendell Roberts; Merritt S. Deitz

Subjects: Bankruptcy--United States.; Court administration.; Judges--United States.; Judicial Conference of the United States; Louisville (Ky.)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
00:34:40 - Reorganizing the bankruptcy court

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Partial Transcript: Let's go back to the start of your clerkship.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson describes the changes he made to the Western District's bankruptcy court within the first year on the job, as well as his relationships with the judges.

Keywords: Bankruptcy courts; Case administrators; Efficiency; Judge G. William Brown; Reorganization

Subjects: Court administration; Judge G. William Brown; Judicial Conference of the United States. Committee on Court Administration and Case Management

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
00:40:11 - Efficiency in bankruptcy court

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Partial Transcript: So what did that entail?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson describes how he changed the procedures of the bankruptcy court to make it more efficient. He discusses automation, deadline monitoring, the role of case administrators, and a daily judges' table meeting.

Keywords: Automation; Case administrators; Efficiency

Subjects: Bankruptcy--United States; Case management; Court administration; Technology

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
00:43:54 - Relationships with bankruptcy judges

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Partial Transcript: I wanna get into that more, but let me ask you a few more questions about, um, the Bankruptcy Court.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about how he interacted with Judge Wendell Roberts and Judge G. William Brown, and how the Clerk of Clerk relates to judges on a small court.

Keywords: Bankruptcy courts; Clerks-of-Court; Judge G. William Brown; Judge J. Wendell Roberts

Subjects: Bankruptcy--United States; Court administration; Friendship; Judges--United States

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
00:51:10 - Relationship between district courts and bankruptcy courts

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Partial Transcript: Can you talk about the politics of some of those appointments?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about appointments to the Bankruptcy Court, and the dynamics between district judges and bankruptcy judges.

Keywords: Article III federal judges; Bankruptcy courts; Chapter 11 bankruptcy; Chapter 9 bankruptcy; Court consolidation; Judge Ed Johnstone; Judge G. William Brown; Judge J. Wendell Roberts; Relationships

Subjects: Bankruptcy--United States; District courts--United States.; Judges--United States.

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
00:56:02 - Testifying before Congress

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Partial Transcript: I did testify in Congress on the 1991 bankruptcy legislation.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about providing testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about bankruptcy legislation in 1991, in his capacity as the president of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Clerks. He was possibly the first bankruptcy clerk to do so. Apperson recalls how that came about, including serving on the Board of the American Bankruptcy Institute alongside Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Keywords: Bankruptcy courts; Bankruptcy legislation; National Conference of Bankruptcy Clerks; Senate Judiciary Committee

Subjects: American Bankruptcy Institute; United States. Congress.; United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary; Warren, Elizabeth.

GPS: Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.892533, -77.005319
00:59:22 - Bankruptcy filings in the Western District

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Partial Transcript: I want to ask you about, you've alluded to this before, that being a clerk on the bankruptcy court gave you a real interesting perspective on the local economy.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson discusses how bankruptcy filings changed in the Western District during his time as a clerk-of-court, and how the judges' preference for Chapter 13 filings may have influenced the court's dockets.

Keywords: Bankruptcy clerks; Bankruptcy courts; Bankruptcy judges; Chapter 12 bankruptcy; Chapter 13 bankruptcy; Chapter 7 bankruptcy; Percentage plans

Subjects: Bankruptcy--United States; Court calendars; Public policy.

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:03:44 - Organizing power of bankruptcy judges

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Partial Transcript: And by the way, there was always a lot--a little bit of jealousy there because the bankruptcy judges had a great lobby.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson describes the influence that bankruptcy judges wield despite their lack of Article III powers.

Keywords: Bankruptcy courts; Retirement benefits

Subjects: Bankruptcy--United States; Judges--United States.; Lobbying; National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges (U.S.); Postemployment benefits; United States. Congress.

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:11:14 - Electronic court records

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Partial Transcript: So, um let's start transitioning into the district clerkship.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson discusses how the bankruptcy court's reputation in electronic records brought him to the attention of the Western District Court judges. In Apperson's view, it was under his leadership that the Western District's bankruptcy court became the first court in the country to implement technology for court records.

Keywords: Bankruptcy clerks; Bankruptcy courts; Case management; Court administration; Efficiency; Ross Anderson; Technology in courts

Subjects: Computer systems.; District courts--United States—Administration; Electronic records.; Judges--United States.; Louisville (Ky.); Technology; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:18:06 - Applying for district clerkship

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Partial Transcript: So, when did you start thinking about becoming district clerk?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson discusses his decision to apply for the district clerkship and the application process.

Keywords: District clerks; Judge Allen; Judge Charles Ralph Simpson III; Judge Ed Johnstone; Judge John G. Heyburn; Judge Ronald E. Meredith

Subjects: District courts--United States--Administration.; District courts--United States.; Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Interviews.; Judges--United States.

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:25:37 - Relationship with Judge Meredith / Judge Heyburn's influence

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Partial Transcript: So, actually I think I solved a problem for them.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about his relationship with Judge Meredith and the influence Judge Heyburn had on his hiring as district clerk.

Keywords: Court families; District clerks; Judge John G. Heyburn; Judge Ronald E. Meredith

Subjects: District courts--United States--Administration.; District courts--United States.; Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Relationships; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:29:36 - Reorganizing the Western District courts as district clerk

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Partial Transcript: What was the clerk's office like w--at the time, when you joined the District?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about the politics of reorganizing the clerk's office during his early years with the District Court. He also describes one of his first major initiatives, the restoration and modernization of the divisional courthouses.

Keywords: Barbara Cravens; Case administrators; Change management; Judge Charles Ralph Simpson III; Judge Gordon; Judge John G. Heyburn; Restoring court houses; Staff morale; Transition periods

Subjects: District courts--United States--Administration.; District courts--United States.; Electronic records.; Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Judges--United States.; Records--Management.; Relationships.; Technology.; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:38:27 - Supporting district court staff

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Partial Transcript: So--and I also had staff...

Segment Synopsis: Apperson describes his staff's role in the administration of the Court and his interest in their professional development. He describes how his own relationships helped and were helped by his staff's leadership and expertise.

Keywords: Leadership; Working groups

Subjects: District courts--United States—Administration; Morale; Professional development; Relationships

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:41:22 - Involvement in national electronic records initiatives

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Partial Transcript: Also, I was involved on the public--I was on the Committee for Public Access to Court Electronic Records when it was formed.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about his work to develop free public access to court electronic records, helping the courts transition to personal computers, and outreach efforts to educate the Western District's bar on the courts' database system, Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF). He also reflects on the role of technology in the Court's higher mission.

Keywords: Bar associations; Cyber offices; Databases; Efficiencies; Personal computers

Subjects: PACER Service Center (U.S.); Sperry Corporation (1979-1986). Sperry Division; Technology

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:47:33 - High profile cases

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Partial Transcript: Um, when you have--when the Court had, you know, high profile cases, um--

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about how the Court manages high-profile cases in the Western District and the work of the Clerk's Office during those times.

Keywords: Collateral; Conversations; District clerks; Fee deposits; Judge Allen; Judge Ed Johnstone; Judge John G. Heyburn; School desegregation cases

Subjects: District courts--United States; Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Judges--United States; Law clerks; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District); United States. Federal Reserve Board

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:52:56 - District court assignment processes / Injunctions

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Partial Transcript: I was more involved at the policy level than the case disposition or the case decision-making level.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about how cases were assigned in the Western District, and injunctions issued by the Court.

Keywords: Case assignment orders; District clerks; Injunctive relief; Judicial conferences; Policy decisions; Random assignment

Subjects: Court calendars; District courts--United States.; Injunctions.; Judges--United States.; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:56:48 - District clerk's office

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Partial Transcript: And did it give you any particular, um, insight as to the particular judicial-making process that each of these judges would go through?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson discusses how his position as Clerk gave him a better understanding of the work of district judges and case management.

Keywords: Case management systems; Dismissing court cases; District clerks; Filings; Multi-district cases; Order processes; Perfecting a record; Plea bargains; Pro se law clerks; Suppression cases

Subjects: Judges--United States.; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
02:04:19 - Relationships around the Western District

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Partial Transcript: You talked about, you know, having to, um, keep tabs on all of these judges who are dispersed.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson discusses how he worked with staff, magistrate judges, district judges, and circuit judges spread throughout the Western District. He talks about staying in the houses of district court judges as he traveled through the region, and the importance of deputy clerks and various administrative committees in managing the District.

Keywords: Circuit judges; Committees; Community defenders; District clerk staff; District clerks; Judge Joseph H. McKinley; Judge Thomas B. Russell; Magistrate judges; Sixth Circuit

Subjects: Judges--United States.; Owensboro (Ky.); Paducah (Ky.); United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
02:10:17 - Views on international justice issues

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Partial Transcript: I always thought that we could manage our, um, cases in, uh, Guantanamo.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about the universal values embedded in the Constitution and how that informed his perspective on trying cases from the Guantanamo Detention Center and his perspective on judicial processes worldwide.

Keywords: Fair trials; Guantanamo cases; International jurisdiction courts; Stateless jurisdiction

Subjects: Detention of persons Cuba Guantánamo Bay Naval Base; Fort Campbell (Ky. and Tenn.); Fort Knox (Ky.); Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp.; International courts.

02:12:50 - Leaving the Western District

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Partial Transcript: When I left the Western District job, there were really some incredible conversations.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson describes why he decided to leave his position as Clerk of Court, and the district judges' role in helping him come to that decision.

Keywords: International courts; Judge Ed Johnstone; Judge G. William Brown; Justice

Subjects: District courts--United States—Administration; Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Judges--United States.; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)