December 2022 President's Letter

Written by National Association of Women Judges|December 02, 2022|Monthly Update Archive

toni-clarke.pngWe are just over a month out from the NAWJ Annual Conference in Detroit. Thank you to Judge Michelle Rick and Zenell Brown, and their committee for putting on an excellent Annual Conference. The programs were excellent, the Party with a Purpose was fabulous, and the Native American dancers were outstanding.

It's been a busy couple of weeks. On November 9th I had the pleasure of attending and introducing a District 4 Bar-to-Bench Program, co-sponsored by the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia. This program is a great opportunity for attorneys who aspire to the bench to hear from judges who provide
insight on the process of obtaining a judgeship. All of the NAWJ Districts are encouraged to host this program in their Districts. The committee assignments have been completed. Thank you to all who have volunteered to be on a committee.

On November 17th, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Investiture of the Honorable J. Michelle Childs to the United States Court of Appeals for The District of Columbia. Judge Childs was sworn in by Associate Justice the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson. It was awe-inspiring to say the least. Two phenomenal black women on the two most influential courts in the country.

November is Native American Heritage Month, or as commonly referred to as American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month. One of my initiatives for this year is to have a program for each Heritage Month, informing our members of the issues facing those being recognized and celebrated. On November 30th, in honor of Native American Heritage Month, NAWJ, in cooperation with Our Children’s Trust, presented a webinar entitled The Fundamental Rights of Indigenous Youth, the Climate Crisis, and Access to Justice; educating us on the unique harms that vulnerable and Indigenous youth face from the destabilization of our climate, and the recent rights-based climate litigation bringing attention to these issues. It offered a different perspective on the effects of climate change. I hope you joined us for the webinar. It will be available on our website for those who missed it.

As I’m sure many of you have heard, we lost a treasured and stalwart member of our NAWJ family. Shortly after the Annual Conference, Judge Judy Chirlin suffered a massive stroke from which she did not survive. Judge Judy, as she was affectionately known, was instrumental in getting our international judges to our annual conferences. She, along with others, worked tirelessly to get the Afghan women judges out of Afghanistan, saving many of their lives and the lives of their families. Judge Judy always met everyone with a hug and a smile, and a willingness to help. There is a void in our collective hearts with her passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.

With the Holiday season approaching, I wish you all a safe, healthy and joyous holiday season!

Judge Toni E. Clarke (Ret)

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