April 2022 President's Letter

Written by National Association of Women Judges|April 01, 2022|Monthly Update Archive

1. The Midyear Meeting

judge-e.-white.pngThe mid-year meeting was held on March 10-12, 2022, at the Renaissance in Arlington, Virginia. We had over 85 members in attendance and the meeting was a big success. The opportunities for networking abounded and the survey revealed a high degree of satisfaction. Here are just a few of the comments:  “The Midyear was great!”, “The program was very good this year.”,  and “This was my first midyear meeting and it was fabulous.” 

We had a productive Board meeting followed by “Planting the Seed,” a mentoring program for local law school students in the DC/Virginia area.

At the Opening Reception, we celebrated International Women Judges Day and honored three Afghan Women Judges with NAWJ memberships. We also provided each Judge with $1,000 in gift cards, courtesy of our members, to help them restart their lives in the U.S. Efforts are ongoing to help them get fellowships to LLM programs or pursue other opportunities in the legal profession.  

Jen Klein, the Executive Director of the White House Gender Council, spoke with me at a fireside chat on the Biden Administration’s efforts to improve the lives of women and children. It was serendipitous that the Violence Against Women’s Act was reenacted the day before. You may remember that NAWJ was instrumental in getting VAWA enacted previously. Also, fortuitously on March 11, Congress voted to provide increased funding for maternal and child health programs, tribal programs, public education and programs addressing mental health crises.  This provided ample subject matter for a fascinating conversation with Ms. Klein.

Our plenary speaker, Julia Olson with Our Childrens Trust, spoke about her efforts to address climate change by representing children who have experienced the negative impact of our warming planet and on whose behalf Our Childrens Trust seeks redress in Court. Her presentation was rewarded with a standing ovation and excellent reviews in our survey.

Judge Vanessa Ruiz was presented with the Lady Justice Award at the plenary lunch for her ongoing efforts to help the many Afghan women Judges who are still unable to leave Afghanistan.

Panels on Technology, Life After the Bench and Self Represented Litigants rounded out the program.

The meeting ended with the interactive session “Racial Disparity in the Courts: Strategies to Combat Racial Inequality in the Courts and Criminal Justice System.”  This course was funded by a grant from the State Justice Institute and developed by Judge Pam Washington, Commissioner Pennie McLaughlin, Judge Cheryl Rios, Judge Maria Puente-Porras, and Judge Edwina Mendelson. The session was informative, engaging and impactful.  Judge Washington did a great job as a presenter. Click here for photos.

2. The Domestic Violence Committee and the American Law Institute

Two meaningful Zoom calls between members of NAWJ’s Domestic Violence Committee, myself, and members of the American Law Institute (“ALI”), I of NAWJ, resulted in my signing a letter on behalf of NAWJ to the ALI asking them to adopt a definition of “consent” in sexual assault cases which does not put the burden of proof on the victim to show lack of consent.  We are hopeful that the revised Model Penal Code reflects our input.  Thanks to Judge Bobbie McCartney, Judge Tracey Fleming-Davilier, Judge Amy Ronayne Krause, and Lynn Hecht Schafran for all of their important work in this effort.

3. More Committees and Upcoming Webinars

The Immigration Committee is sponsoring a webinar entitled “Immigration Update – Issues and Current Developments” on April 12.

The Administrative Judiciary Committee is sponsoring a webinar entitled  “Paths to the Administrative Judiciary Bench” on April 21 which features a panel of Administrative Law Judges from Immigration Courts,  Labor Departments, an Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, an Employment Services office, and the California Department of Insurance, among others.

The Judicial Independence Committee is sponsoring a webinar “Why Courts Are Under Attack and What Judges Can Do About It” is scheduled for April 26.

Committee meetings are scheduled. To find out when, you may access the Master Calendar on our website. If you’re not currently on a committee, consider attending a meeting of a committee you’re interested in joining. You may be motivated to become more involved in something you care about.  

4. Newsworthy Activity

NAWJ is celebrating President Biden’s nomination of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Supreme Court. On March 22, I appeared live on Newsy, a national 24-hour internet news station and spoke of NAWJ’s Color of Justice and Mentor Jet programs and how they inspire students and the impact of Judge Brown Jackson’s nomination on young women of color.

I submitted a video tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg who was honored posthumously on the occasion of her birthday on March 15 by the National Judicial College. Several bar leaders also submitted moving video tributes. Justice Goodwin Liu of the California Supreme Court spoke of his time clerking with RBG on the Supreme Court.  

On April 6 I will be a panelist in a Women’s Leadership Forum sponsored by the National Conference of Bar Presidents’ 21st Century Lawyer Committee entitled “A Conversation with Women Bar Leaders.

NAWJ members are busy and thriving. As always, I love hearing your ideas and getting your input.

Hon. Elizabeth A. White (ret.)
President, NAWJ

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