The American Bar Association has announced that Judge J. Rich Leonard of
the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina is
the 2011 recipient of the Robert B. Yegge Award, which will be presented at the
annual meeting in Toronto on August 4. The Award is given annually to a judge or
lawyer who has made an outstanding contribution to judicial administration in the
United States. Judge Leonard was recognized for his two-decade effort to assist
in developing and overseeing the electronic case filing and public access systems
of the federal courts, his pioneering program to make the digital audio recordings
of federal court proceedings available to the public over the Internet, his efforts
at training and educating court officials and attorneys in the U.S. and abroad, his
chairmanship of the current task force to assist in the design of the next
generation of federal case management systems, and his editorship of the
American Bankruptcy Law Journal. The Award is made possible by an endowment
from the family of Dean Emeritus Robert B. Yegge of the University of Denver Law
School, a national pioneer in the field of judicial administration.
Judge Leonard has spent his career in the federal courts in eastern North
Carolina. He began in 1979 as the Clerk of Court for the United States District
Court, became a United States Magistrate Judge in 1981, and joined the United
States Bankruptcy Court in 1992 where he served as chief judge from 1998-2005.
In 1995, President Clinton nominated him for a seat on the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, but his confirmation was blocked by Senator
A native of Welcome, North Carolina in Davidson County, he graduated
from the University of North Carolina, where he was a Morehead Scholar, and
Yale Law School. Judge Leonard is the father of five children, and is married to Dr.
Whitney Cain, an associate professor of psychology at Peace College.