August 2021 President's Letter

Written by National Association of Women Judges|August 26, 2021|Monthly Update Archive

judge-donohue---circle.pngDear friends and colleagues,

Unlike 2020, 2021 is flying by! We are quickly approaching the much anticipated and long delayed Annual Conference in Nashville, TN. Our exceptional conference planning committee has a number of exciting events for the 42nd annual conference, including sessions on the First Amendment, Racial Bias, a Supreme Court update with Dean Chemerinsky, a Reenactment of the Tennessee Vote on the Ratification of the 19th Amendment and much more.  A complete agenda of events will be posted soon. Please register online.

Although the conference is the most anticipated event of the year, our webinars are providing exceptional education and information for our members. The “Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline” webinar on July 22nd was the first of a two-part series to discuss the correlation between the suspension and expulsion rates for youth of color and their subsequent disproportionate representation in the juvenile, foster care and family court systems. It was an informative and impactful session. If you were unable to attend, it is now available on the website to view. NAWJ members Judge Patricia Baca, Justice Marcy Kahn, Judge Kristin Rosi and Justice Helen Whitener were panelists on an ABA Judicial Division webinar discussing access, equality and equity for members of the LGBTQ+ community and relevant legal opinions. A link to this dynamic conversation is also available on our website.

Congratulations to NAWJ member Hon. Irma Gonzalez, one of the recipients of the 2021 ABA Margaret Brent Awards. Judge Gonzalez was the first Latina of Mexican heritage to be appointed to the federal bench. Prior to her appointment to the federal bench, Judge Gonzalez also served as a U.S. Magistrate judge and a San Diego County Superior Court judge. She currently is a neutral with JAMS. Oregon Attorney General and former NAWJ member Ellen Rosenblum was also honored with this prestigious award.

Laurie Denham and Judges Kristin Rosi, Barbara Holmes, Toni Clarke, Pamela Washington and I met on July 26th to discuss how the LGBTQ Committee’s proposed resolution will be addressed at the annual meeting. Many of you have already spent hours discussing the resolution, which was presented at a Special Meeting in April and postponed by a majority vote of the members in attendance to October.  These discussions have occurred in committee meetings and at District meetings and we are all familiar with the issue presented. Therefore, we agreed that we will model the procedure of the ABA House of Delegates, to some extent, and limit the number of speakers for and against the resolution. Judge Rosi will present the resolution and speak for five minutes. Four proponents of the motion will follow Judge Rosi, speaking for two minutes each. Five opponents of the motion will then have two minutes each to present their views. Judge Rosi will have two minutes to close.

Because we are limiting the number of speakers, we encourage proponents and opponents of the proposed resolution to present written materials outlining their position. Please submit written statements to Laurie Denham no later than Friday, August 27th. All materials will be submitted to members on September 7th. The vote will be held on October 9th. Members in good standing must register for the conference in order to cast their vote.

NAWJ’s staying power and the magnitude of impact that we can have on the justice system and our community depends upon our members. Membership has increased this year, including in states where we have not previously had members. The tradition of friendship and respect that we have for one another is carried out through respectful and important dialogue on many topics. We may not all agree on the methods of achieving our mission, but we all stand by it and strive “to promote the judicial role of protecting the rights of individuals under the rule of law through strong, committed, diverse judicial leadership; fairness and equality in the courts; and, equal access to justice.”

I look forward to seeing you in Nashville.

Warm Regards,


Judge Karen Donohue

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