DC Courts Mourn the Loss of Former Judge Sylvia Bacon

DC Courts mourn the loss of the Honorable Sylvia Bacon, who died on April 29 at the age of 91 in Washington, D.C.

President Richard Nixon appointed Judge Bacon in 1970, and she retired as an associate judge of the Superior Court on July 9, 1991. The president went on to shortlist Judge Bacon for the U.S. Supreme Court, cementing her place in history as one of the earliest women to be considered for such a position.

“Her presence alone,” said D.C. Superior Court Judge Heidi M. Pasichow, a former clerk of Judge Bacon’s, “showed her energy — her focus — on paving the path.”

Before coming to the bench, she was a trial attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and handled both civil and criminal matters. She also served as associate director of the President’s Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia and served as an attorney for the Department of Justice.

Judge Bacon took an active role in the improvement of the judicial process in her time on the bench, and served on the District of Columbia Commission to develop sentencing guidelines.

Judge Bacon also served on several national commissions and task forces, including the Council on the Roles of Courts and the National Task Force on Juvenile Justice. She actively furthered legal education for the bench and bar in her time as a faculty member and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Judicial College, as well as by serving as president of the Board of Regents of the National College for Criminal Defense.

The South Dakota native graduated from Vassar College and Harvard Law School. She also earned an LL.M. from the Georgetown University Law Center and attended the London School of Economics.

“Whenever you hear the name of Judge Sylvia Bacon, the same words and descriptions are always in the conversation, like dedicated, committed, caring and compassionate,” said Judge Anita Josey-Herring, the Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. “Judge Bacon was an educator and mentor to so many – both in and outside the courthouse – and her legacy on this Court will live on for generations to come by those that work here and for the thousand that we serve every year.”