NAWJ Monthly Update February 2018

Written by National Association of Women Judges|February 09, 2018|Monthly Update Archive

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February 2018

In This Issue:



I hope that this message finds you well.

It is with regret that I inform you that the NAWJ Executive Committee accepted the written resignation of Justice Rebeca Martinez and Judge Beckie Palomo as co-chairs of the 2018 San Antonio Annual Conference. Justice Martinez and Judge Palomo were unable to continue their service as co-chairs and NAWJ is sincerely grateful to them for their energy, enthusiasm and diligence in planning this conference. Vice President of Districts, Judge Orlinda Naranjo, will pick up the baton and continue the work of Justice Martinez and Judge Palomo. Judge Naranjo, in consultation with myself, has selected the theme of "Shaping the Future of Justice in the Emerging Legal Landscape," for the 2018 San Antonio Annual Conference, which is in keeping with the focus of my presidential term and the state of current affairs. We extend sincere thanks and appreciation to Justice Martinez, Judge Palomo and Judge Naranjo.

The committee list for 2018 has been complied and will be released next week. I again thank those who stepped up to chair a committee, as well as those who joined committees. It is never too late to join a committee and I encourage you to become more involved. Please contact our Executive Director, Marie Komisar, in the event of any needed changes or revisions to the committee list.

February is Black History Month, which resonates with a sense of pride for me and other members of this community. However, this month should resonate with us all because the past and present contributions of Black men and women have benefitted this nation in every facet of society. NAWJ owes its existence to the late Hon. Vaino Spencer, a Black woman, who along with Hon. Joan Dempsey Klein, was bold enough to dream and establish an organization that ensures equal access to justice for all. Every NAWJ member stands on the shoulders of the late Hon. Vaino Spencer and we will be sure to remain the leading voice for women jurists.

NAWJ pays homage to the late Hon. Jane Bolin, the first Black female jurist in the United States; the late Hon. Thurgood Marshall, the first Black justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; the late Sheila Abdus-Salaam, a dedicated NAWJ member and first Black woman appointed to the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court; as well as the countless number of known and unknown Black men and women and past and present NAWJ members who blazed their own personal and professional trails to make a difference in their respective communities.

February is also known for Valentine's Day. This day is usually associated with romantic love where people exchange cards, chocolates, flowers, jewelry and other gifts as signs of affection. In these troubling times where the level of discourse has been reduced to ad hominem attacks, bullying and name calling, my hope is that we use Valentine's Day and every day to express agape love – good will, kindness, compassion and benevolence towards one another.

Love is a powerful force which will always overcome darkness and hate.


Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy
President, National Association of Women Judges

April 12-14, 2018

Registration Fees:
$125-$425 Early-bird rates end February 28, 2018

Host Hotel Rates:
$249 per night, plus applicable state and local taxes, single or double occupancy.

Click here to find hotel and registration information.

Glamour.Com's Examines the 'Me Too' Movement's Effect
on Women in the Judiciary

Last month, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, a member of Michigan's Ingham County Circuit Court, became famous for her remarks in the sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar, a former gymnastics doctor convicted of multiple sexual assaults. Kaylen Ralph's article examines the Code of Conduct for United States Judges and views Judge Aquilina's remarks through the lens of the boundaries of impartiality, and number of nominees President Donald Trump has sent to Congress. NAWJ, founded on a mission to increase the numbers of women in the judiciary, finds a place in Glamour.Com's story on what it means to be a female judge. A number of women judges are quoted for comment. Here's what NAWJ President Kennedy had to say:

"When judges take an oath, it is not to please any particular individual or entity," she says. "It's really to uphold the law, to apply the law no matter how it comes out. Certainly, judges will always be criticized—there will always someone who doesn't like a particular decision, that's part and parcel of the job. But the bottom line is that we judges took an oath and we have to stand by that oath to be independent and impartial decision-makers no matter who that decision hurts or helps."

Read Glamour.Com's article 'Why Judge Rosemarie Aquilina Is the Appropriate Avenger for the 'Me Too' Movement' here.

NAWJ Member Heather L. Rosing Elected First President
of California Lawyers Association

NAWJ Member Heather L. Rosing, Esq. was elected the first President of the California Lawyers Association (CLA). The California Lawyers Association is the new home of the Sections of the State Bar of California, as well as the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA), effective January 1, 2018. In October of 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 36 into law, effectively separating some of the professional promotion activities of the State Bar of California into CLA, a private non-profit entity. The organization's mission is to promote professional advancement of attorneys practicing in California. Heather Rosing is Chief Financial Officer and Shareholder of Klinedinst PC, a business law firm with five offices across the West Coast. She currently serves as the President of the California Bar Foundation, California's largest scholarship resource for diverse law students and is highly active in the legal community. Ms. Rosing has also served as Vice President of the State Bar of California, and President of the San Diego County Bar Association.

She has been stalwart in her participation in various NAWJ events, such as Success Inside & Out project at Las Colinas Women's Facility, and the 2017 Midyear Meeting, as well as the Color of Justice and Mentor Jet programs. NAWJ is extremely proud of Heather's accomplishments and is grateful for her invaluable support. Congratulations, Heather!

For more information and background on Ms. Rosing and the CLA please visit:

New Member Spotlight
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan

District Attorney Summer Stephan has devoted her life to protecting children and families and providing justice to the voiceless and most vulnerable. She is a national leader in the fight against sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Summer Stephan has served as Deputy District Attorney in San Diego County for 27 years. During this time, she combined extensive courtroom experience with over 15 years of management and leadership experience. She rose through the ranks to appointments as Chief of the District Attorney's North County Branch, and Chief of the Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking Division, a Special Victims Unit she pioneered.

In 2017, she was appointed District Attorney. Managing a professional staff of over 1,000 employees, Ms. Stephan leads the second largest District Attorney's Office in California, serving San Diego County and its over three million residents spread throughout cities and communities from the U.S.-Mexico border to the Riverside County line. District Attorney Stephan uses her nearly three decades of experience to set public safety priorities and collaborate with law enforcement and communities to maintain San Diego County as one of the safest urban regions in the United States.

District Attorney Stephan holds leadership positions in public safety on the national state and local level, including being selected as one of only two prosecutors in California to serve on Governor Schwarzenegger's Task Force for High-Risk Sex Offenders and Sexually-Violent Predators. She chaired the San Diego County Human Trafficking Advisory Council, and also spearheaded the innovative "Know the Price" campaign, which focused on reducing sexual assaults of college students.

District Attorney Stephan is the recipient of numerous local, state and federal awards, including an FBI commendation for organized crime prosecution, the outstanding achievement award for the complex prosecution involving the sexual assault and murder of an elderly woman. She was named "Angel of Anti-Human Trafficking" and "Modern Day Abolitionist. She also received the prestigious 2016 "Voices for Justice" award by the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice. This year, she received the Lifetime Legacy Award by Women of Influence and the Community Impact award by North County Lifeline.

She has supported NAWJ for many years before becoming a member through her participation in Color of Justice, Mentor Jet, Success Inside & Out programs. Welcome to NAWJ, District Attorney Stephan! We salute you for your noteworthy professional achievements and support of NAWJ!

NAWJ Women in Prison Committee Visits Newly Renovated
Federal Satellite Law Facility in Danbury, CT

On January 18, 2018, NAWJ Women in Prison Committee Co-Chairs Supervising Judge Cheryl J. Gonzales (New York), Judge Brenda P. Murray (Washington, D.C.), Judge Betty J. Williams (Ret.) (New York), and member Acting Justice Robin S. Garson (New York), organized a follow-up visit to Danbury, CT, where the Federal Bureau of Prisons houses women offenders. (Judge Laura Swain's memo reporting April, 2017 findings may be found here.)

You can read a report of last month's visit to the Danbury facility here. The Committee found a general sense of relief amongst the detainees on being housed back at the newly renovated Danbury Federal Satellite Law Facility (FSL) rather than in the older, poorly maintained Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, where they lived temporarily until Danbury's facilities were upgraded.

Danbury FSL now contains a new building dedicated to programming, with rooms for health services, classrooms, exercise, reading (library), and a reception area for small children. This is the Bureau of Prison's first ever programming facility considered a "therapeutic community, including a Residential Drug Abuse Program, Mental Health Step Down Program, Resolve Program (trauma treatment) and a Peer Support Program. All inmates housed there are required to participate in this Female Integrated Treatment (FIT) program.

Gaps in important and necessary services for successful rehabilitation and reentry for detainees remain. Women complained of the length of time to see a doctor, an inability to fill prescriptions, and little to no dental care. Detainees also called for increased vocational and educational programming.

Recent Developments
Yale Law School's Arthur Liman Professor of Law Judith Resnik, and Alix M. McLearen, Ph.D., the Bureau of Prison's Administrator for Female and Special Populations Bureau, were amongst the visiting delegation. After their visit, they coordinated the onsite offering of an education opportunity where half the students in the class are in prison and half the students are matriculates from the university. The class, taught by James Forman Jr., a Professor of Law at Yale Law School, examines criminal justice issues. All students get the same assignments.

Again, you are encouraged to read the full report. A complete list of attendees may be found inside.


On Friday, January 12, San Diego Commissioner Pennie K. McLaughlin and NAWJ President-Elect Superior Court Judge Tamila Ipema, along with the President of Grossmont College, other college staff, and officials from Las Colinas Detention Facility, participated in a ceremony to recognize the college level coursework completed by the incarcerated women.

Commission McLaughlin wrote a moving account of her day's experiences which may be found here.

Florida Members Create Book Club for
Inmates at Homestead Correctional Institution

NAWJ Florida members Hon. Andrea Wolfson and NAWJ Past-President Hon. Lisa Walsh have launched a Book Club at the Homestead Correctional Institution, a women-only facility in Florida City. Judge Wolfson and Judge Walsh delivered copies of Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train to the facility, and held book club discussion with 11 inmates. The Warden, Marie Boan, and the Program Services Division of the Department of Corrections enthusiastically agreed to institutionalize the book club program. The program was well-received by women and staff. More women have signed up for the book club than can be accommodated. The adjacent men's facility is also interested in beginning a similar program.



In October 2017, William C.E. Robinson, Esq. was honored with NAWJ's Mattie Belle Davis Award. This award recognizes a member who has gone above and beyond his or her role as an NAWJ member and volunteers to help make a difference in the organization, furthers its mission, and is dedicated to furthering and supporting women in the legal profession.

William has led GEICO's support of NAWJ since 2014, when he joined the Resource Board. Throughout his career, William has worked to promote fairness and equality in the legal field for people of varying socioeconomic backgrounds and has invested time and energy in a number of charitable organizations. Currently, he serves as a Commissioner on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Equal Access to Justice Commission. He was previously a board member of the New York Urban League.

From January 2001 until December 2007, William served as senior corporate counsel in the Office of General Counsel for GEICO. Since December 2007, he has served as Corporate Secretary for GEICO Corporation and its various subsidiaries. His mission in this role is two-fold: (1) provide corporate secretary services to the GEICO Companies and their Directors and Officers, including corporate governance oversight, records retention and maintenance, and various insurance department filings; and (2) provide the Human Resources Department with legal counsel relating to the legal compliance and other aspects of labor and employment issues confronted by the GEICO Companies.

He has been a presenter to several labor and employment law firm associations and in-house corporate counsel associations in the areas of labor and employment, e-discovery and complex class actions. He is also co-author of Corporate Counsel Solutions, Employment Policies and Practices (published by LexisNexis in 2007).

NAWJ extends its sincere thanks to William Robinson for his steadfast support of and commitment to NAWJ.

Landmark Sponsor GEICO

The partnership between NAWJ and GEICO provides insurance discounts to NAWJ members. Contact GEICO for a free quote on auto insurance to see how much you could be saving. Remember to mention your NAWJ affiliation since you could qualify for an exclusive member savings opportunity. Visit (special portal here) or call 1-800-368-2734 for your free rate quote. GEICO also can help you find great rates on homeowners, renters, motorcycle insurance, and more.

Calendar of Events
NAWJ New Jersey will present Color of Justice at Rutgers Law School in Newark on March 3, 2018.

NAWJ District Six Conference "Celebrating Our Women Judges" March 5-8, 2018, Shreveport, Louisiana. Contact District Director Judge Sheva Sims at for more information.

NAWJ Midyear Meeting, "The Emerging Legal Landscape: Navigating a Path to the Future," April 12-14, 2018, New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. Contact Conference Planner Wanda Mann at for more information.

NAWJ 40th Annual Conference, "Shaping the Future of Justice in the Emerging Legal Landscape" will take place in San Antonio, Texas from October 3-7, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk.

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