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The Daily Washington Law Reporter

Daily Legal Intelligence Since 1874

Judge Biographies

Ugast, Fred B.

Retired Chief Judge Ugast was born in Washington, DC. He attended catholic schools in Washington and boarding school in Baltimore prior to enrolling at Catholic University for his undergraduate studies. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Catholic University in 1945 and then earned a Master of Arts in the same field from Catholic University in 1946. Retired Chief Judge Ugast was awarded his law degree from Harvard University in 1950.

After receiving his law degree, Chief Judge Ugast joined the Department of Justice as a trial attorney in the Lands Division until 1953. In 1954, he transferred to the Tax Division serving in the Criminal Section and Chief of the General Litigation Section until 1969 when he was promoted to Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Tax Division, a position he maintained until his appointment to the bench in 1973. While at the Department of Justice, Retired Chief Judge Ugast received several awards including the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service in 1971.

Chief Judge Ugast was appointed to the Superior Court bench by President Nixon in 1973. He served in all divisions of the court prior to assuming the position of Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division in 1981 where he remained until he became chief judge in 1986. He was reappointed to a second full term on November 26, 1986 after the DC Commission on Judicial Disabilities & Tenure found him to be well qualified for reappointment. He was redesignated chief judge for a second term in June 1990. He retired as chief judge on October 30, 1993 and assumed senior judge status commencing November 1, 1993, based upon court resources and availability; he sits as a trial judge.

Throughout his twenty years on the bench, Chief Judge Ugast served the Superior Court in numerous capacities. He was Co-Chairman of the Juvenile Mental Health Committee from 1978 to 1981; Chairman of the Advisory Mental Health Committee from 1977 to 1986; Committee Chairman of Pretrial Mental Examinations from 1976 to 1986; and Chairman of the Sentencing Guidelines Commission from 1984 to 1987.

During his tenure as chief judge, several innovative programs were initiated, including the one-trial-one-day jury service; the multi-door division; expanded data processing systems; improved use of court facilities; the Civil Delay Reduction Program which, in 1992 alone, reduced the pending civil action caseload by over 30%; and the Specialized Felony Drug Calendar. The Court also implemented a number of successful programs in the Family Division such as “Adoption Day in Court”; individual calendars for juvenile and neglect proceedings and a specialized calendar for complex domestic relations cases; and administrative and technological changes that increased child support collections from less $1 million to over $3 million each month.

Chief Judge Ugast’s administration also expanded access to justice services here at the Superior Court to all citizens of the District of Columbia. This was made possible through the creation of the Office of the Interpreter Coordinators, the addition of a Spanish child support hotline, and a language line interpretation service in the Landlord & Tenant Court. He also approved the installation of TDD telephones in the courthouse and Assisted Learning Devices in the courtrooms to aid hearing impaired citizens.

Retired Chief Judge Ugast received several awards and recognitions while on the bench. The District of Columbia Court designated a thirty-bed psychiatric center as the “Judge Fred B. Ugast Forensic Psychiatric Center”, and it also named a section of Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital, the “Chief Judge Fred B. Ugast Forensic Evaluation Branch” in honor of his exceptional work in the mental health field. He also received the Annual Recognition Award from the Washington Psychiatric Society in 1981 for his distinguished service in the area of mental health. Other awards include: the Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association Distinguished Fellow Award; the Middle Atlantic States Correctional Association Professional Service Award; the Catholic University of America Alumni Award; the Bar Association of the District of Columbia’s James C. Eastman Award; the Justice Tom C. Clark Award from the National Conference of Metropolitan Courts; the H. Carl Moultrie Award of Judicial Excellence; the National Bar Association of Black Women Attorney’s Sadie T.M. Alexander Award; and the National Center for State Courts’ Distinguished Service Award. Upon his retirement as chief judge, he received an Award of Merit from the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration of the District of Columbia. He received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Human Letters – Catholic University – 1994.

Retired Chief Judge Ugast has been involved extensively in the Washington community. He has served on committees to improve the treatment of mentally ill prisoners; to establish shelters and halfway houses for battered women, juveniles and others; to improve the city’s law enforcement policies; and to fund programs for DC inner-city school children. He served as President of the John Carroll Society from 1993 to 1995, and Chair of the Board of the Anchor Mental Health Association from 2000 to 2002. He serves as Vice Chair of the recently established Catholic University Community Services – 2005. He is a Knight of Malta.

Judge Ugast has served as the Judge in Residence at the Columbus School of Law of the Catholic University of America since 1994. 

Retired Chief Judge Ugast and Mary, his wife of 55 years, have six children and 14 grandchildren.