Appointed: October 23, 1984
Born in New York City, Ms. Kollar-Kotelly lived for ten years in South America
where her father worked for the Agency for International Development and its predecessor
agencies. She attended bilingual schools in Mexico, Ecuador, and Venezuela, and
completed three years of her high school education at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory
School in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Kollar-Kotelly received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Catholic
University in 1965, and a J.D. degree from Catholic University ?Law School in 1968.. She
is a member of the Bar of the District of Columbia.
After graduating from law school, Ms. Kollar-Kotelly served as a law clerk to the
Honorable Catherine B. Kelly, Associate Judge of the District of Columbia Court of
Appeals. She then spent over three years as an attorney in the Department of Justice,
Criminal Division, Appellate Section. In that capacity, she wrote appellate briefs and argued
in various federal circuits, including the District of Columbia, as well as prepared briefs in the
United States Supreme Court.
Twelve years ago, she became Chief Legal Council to Saint Elizabeths Hospital,
presently an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services and the public
mental hospital for the District of Columbia. Although initially she was the sole attorney, over
the years she has expanded the legal staff and functions of the legal office in order to
provide legal advice to the Superintendent and other clinical and administrative staff on all
aspects of the operation of the Hospital, as well as to represent the Hospital in federal court
and the Supreme Court. Practicing a philosophy of preventive law, her advisory role has
not been limited to mental health law, but has concerned a broad spectrum of substantive
issues similar to those handled by a small law firm with a general practice.
Because of her particular expertise in mental health law, she has developed a
unique relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, permitting her to appear regularly in a
variety of preceedings in the Superior Court, in addition to handling civil suits in the United
States District Court, including two class action suits which set national precedents in mental
She has made a significant contribution to the education of mental health
professionals and the legal community. She has made presentations at the annual meetings
of the American Psychiatric Association; at programs sponsored by the American Academy
of Psychiatry and the Law, the Washington Psychiatric Society, and the D.C. Mental Health
Association; at programs sponsored by the Superior Court Judicial Conference; and as a
speaker at various law schools.
Since 1974, she has been a member of the Ugast Forensic Committee and the
Mental Health Rules Committee on the Superior Court. She has also worked on various
legislative proposals with the D.C. City Council, particularly the Committee on Human
Services chaired by Councilmember Polly Shackleton. In addition, she has served on
various Mayoral Task Forces.
In 1981, she was awarded the Saint Elizabeths Hospital Certificate of Appreciation,
and this year is receiving the Award for Meritorious Achievement from the Alcohol, Drug
Abuse, and Mental Health Administration of the Department of Health and Human
Ms. Kollar-Kotelly is married to John T. Kotelly, a partner in the law firm of Dickstein,
Shapiro, and Morin.