March 2022 President's Letter

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

judge-e.-white.pngThe mid-year meeting, March 10-12, 2022, will be in person! I can’t wait to see many of you at the Renaissance in Arlington, Virginia adjacent to Washington D.C. We will celebrate International Women’s Day at our Opening Reception on March 10 and celebrate the recent arrival of three Afghan women Judges. We will honor our own Judge Vanessa Ruiz with the Lady Justice Award fat the plenary lunch on March 11 for her ongoing efforts to help the many Afghan women Judges who are still unable to leave Afghanistan.

The educational programming includes our keynote speaker, Julia Olson with Our Childrens Trust who is leading the fight against climate change in our courts. Jennifer Klein, the Executive Director of the White House Gender Council, will speak at a fireside chat on the Biden Administration’s efforts to improve the lives of women and children.

Committee meetings are in full swing and we are putting together a master calendar which members can access to see when and what meetings are occurring across the country. Vice President of Districts Pam Washington and Committee Liaison Heidi Pasichow will be coordinating so that District Directors can promote the work of our committees.   

The ”Racial Disparities in the Court” webinar aired on January 26 without a glitch and will be featured prominently at the midyear on March 12. We hope to have this training provided to courts across the country soon. The IVP’s program “Why the Courts are Under Attack and What Judges Can Do About It” is airing March 18.

Judge Mimi Tsankov, our Vice President of Publications who also serves as President of the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) testified before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, at the hearing “For the Rule of Law, An Independent Immigration Court” on January 20. She has played a significant role in advocating for H.R. 6577, The Real Courts, Rule of Law Act of 2022, a bill that transitions the nation’s immigration court system into an independent judiciary, consistent with Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

On January 24, NAWJ co-sponsored along with IAWJ and the ABA International Law Section’s International Human Rights Committee the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer highlighting lawyers who are particularly at risk. This year the focus country was Columbia.  In the past, so-called “focus countries” have included Azerbaijan (2021), Pakistan (2020), Turkey (2019 & 2012), Egypt (2018), China (2017), Honduras (2016), The Philippines (2015), and Iran (2010).              

NAWJ is celebrating President Biden’s nomination of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Supreme Court. I was interviewed on Newsy and quoted in NOW on the nomination and promptly issued a press release.

On February 27, NAWJ co-sponsored along with Women of Color in Law, a webinar featuring two Afghan women Judges who described their life before and after the Taliban takeover. We are reaching out to them and helping in whatever way we can.

The Chairs of the Domestic Violence Committee and Human Trafficking Committee met with representatives of the American Law Institute to discuss the proposed Model Penal Code’s definition of victim in a sexual assault case. NAWJ along with many other organizations, including the Association of District Attorneys, have expressed concerns about the definition. I am pleased that our discussion has opened the door to a revision and a further meeting is planned.

As NAWJ’s representative to the CCJ/COSCA Blueprint for Racial Justice's Improving the Bench, Bar and Workforce Working Group chaired by Justice Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, I am part of a wonderful group of judges, justices and court administrators working to improve diversity in the courts. The group is brainstorming lots of fantastic ideas, including the development of a national CCJ/COSCA “access to judicial experience” pilot portal/common process to allow interested and diverse students and recent graduates to look for and hopefully apply to intern or clerk at various courts and with court administrative offices. The group is launching three subcommittees: (1) an education committee to liaise with colleges and law schools and plan panels to encourage diverse students to apply for state court clerkships and internships; (2) a “common application” subcommittee to brainstorm the logistics around a national CCJ/COSCA “access to judicial experience” pilot process; and (3) a judicial training committee to prepare a toolkit and webinars to offer resources to equip judges to support interns and law clerks. I am proud to be NAWJ’s representative on this committee.

I have joined Judge Michelle Rick and her planning committee on several Zooms and can report that the October Detroit Conference will be amazing.

It has been a busy and inspiring time to be your President. As always, I love hearing your ideas and getting your input.

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

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