NAWJ Monthly Update February 2021

Written by National Association of Women Judges|February 03, 2021|Monthly Update Archive

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Monthly Update

February 2021
Volume 19, Issue 2

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State University in 1970. Six years later, President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month as a way to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
This year, in honor of Black History Month, NAWJ District 4 invites all of us to join them in the “21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge” hosted by the American Bar Association which begins Monday, February 1, 2021.  The goal of the Challenge is to assist each of us to become more aware, compassionate, constructive, engaged people in the quest for racial equity. Click here for access to the reading, videos, and podcasts. I’ve reviewed some of the essays and information on the ABA website and encourage each of you to do so as well.

As you will recall, the theme I chose for this year is Advancing Justice Like Never Before. I chose this, in part, as a recognition of the work all of us need to do to advance our justice system and address racial inequities that have been swept aside for too long. This is also one of the principles at the core of our mission. NAWJ members and committees are involved in this work and have many upcoming programs in development.

On February 22, 2021 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. PST the Fairness & Access/Ensuring Racial Equity in the Justice System Committee is hosting a webinar entitled “Racial Inequity in our Justice System: What Does it Look Like and What are we Doing About it?”  Our panelists will be Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby, Judge Vanessa Ruiz, former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and California Chief Justice Cantil-Sakayue. Please save the date for what will be a wonderful program.

I am participating in a Racial Justice Round Table sponsored by the National Judicial College and the National Center for State Courts on February 25th at 12:00 – 2:00 PST. Representatives from the Conference of Chief Justices, the ABA Judicial Division, the NAPABA Judicial Council, American Judges Association, NCJFCJ, the DEI Collaborative and ILGTQJ are also included as panelists.

NAWJ was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from SJI to develop a training for Judges to eliminate racism in the justice system. Further funding is being sought for this important initiative, which is being led by Commissioner Pennie McLaughlin and Judge Pam Washington.  

The Nashville Conference Planning Committee, under the leadership of Judge Barbara Holmes, had their third kick-off meeting recently. Judge Holmes introduced me as the third NAWJ president to be involved in the planning of the Nashville conference. Planning began during Judge Ipema’s term – which just goes to show the wonderful, thoughtful dedication that this group of amazing volunteers has. Many kudos to all of them.

February is also the month that the groundhog pokes his head above ground to see when spring will arrive. Since the release of the movie Groundhog Day, the holiday reminds us of Bill Murray living the same day over and over again – which is what a lot of us feel like we’ve been doing since the COVID shutdowns. The good news is that there will be many more vaccine options available to us soon and there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Please stay safe and healthy!
Warm regards,
Judge Karen Donohue
King County Superior Court
NAWJ President


The NAWJ 2021 Midyear Meeting will be held virtually, starting the evening of Thursday, April 15th with an interactive welcome reception.  On Friday, April 16th, we will hold two educational sessions in the morning, followed by board meetings in the afternoon.  More details on programming and registration will be announced soon.


NAWJ District 11, in partnership with the Hispanic Issues, Judicial, and Women And The Law Sections of the State Bar of Texas and Texas Women Lawyers, hosted a phenomenal webinar on January 21st, 2021.  The webinar highlighted four Texas Supreme Court Justices - Justice Jane Bland, Justice Eva Guzman, Justice Rebeca Huddle, and Justice Debra Lehrmann - who shared their stories and provided invaluable advice to those in the law community. Moderated by District 11 Director Judge Maria Salas-Mendoza, you can now view the webinar via your  MyNAWJ account.  Click here to access the webinar.


Natalia Heguaburo is the NAWJ Research Intern. She is a student at the University of Virginia School of Law. She received her BA in American Studies with highest distinction in 2019 from the University of Virginia, where she co-founded the Latinx Leadership Institute, an organization focusing on providing support and valuable career skills to first and second year Hispanic and Latinx students. Click here to learn more about Natalia.

Stephanie Huerta-Ramirez is the NAWJ Marketing Intern.  A first-generation student studying at the University of Washington, Stephanie is double majoring in Sociology and Law, and Societies & Justice. This past semester Stephanie interned with the Worker Defense Committee at Casa Latina, a non-profit organization that serves the Latinx immigrant community. She worked with potential employers to ensure the safety of workers during their job and studies the State of Washington’s worker rights laws. Click here to read more about Stephanie.

Hon. Patricia Baca, 346th District Court. El Paso, TX
Hon. Beth Boniface, Third Judicial District, Morristown, TN
Ms. Monica Briseno, Elkins Kalt LLP, Los Angeles, CA
Mrs. Katherine A. Chin, Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman, P.L., Coral Gables, FL
Hon. Laurie A. Clark, Denver Juvenile Court, Denver, CO
Ms. Elizabeth A. Davies, New Jersey Division of Law, Southampton, NJ
Hon. Dedra Davis, 270th District Court, Houston, TX
Hon. Patricia Donahue, Central District of California, Los Angeles, CA
Hon. Genesis E. Draper, Harris County Criminal Court At Law No. 12, Houston, TX
Hon. April Farris, First Court of Appeals, Texas, Houston, TX
Hon. Marlene A. Fernandez-Karavetsos, 11th Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Miami, FL
Ms. Grace A. Fox, Sims Funk PLC, Nashville, TN
Hon. Yahara Lisa Gutierrez, 65th District Court, El Paso, TX
Hon. Vickie L. Henry, Massachusetts Appeals Court, Boston, MA
Hon. Lakshmi S. Herman, Miami Immigration Court, Miami, FL
Ms. Amy H. Hsu, Suffolk County Surrogate's Court, Riverhead, NY
Hon. Rebeca A. Huddle, Supreme Court of Texas, Austin, TX
Ms. Amani Kancey, Goodwin Procter, Miami, FL
Hon. Jim F. Kovach, Harris Co. Civil Court At Law No. 2, Houston, TX
Hon. Jessica Mangrum, 200th District Court of Travis County, Austin, TX
Ms. Kayla Mosquera, HMB, Miami, FL
Hon. Tracy Nadzieja, Maricopa County Superior Court, Scottsdale, AZ
Ms. Isabella Oishi, Law Student, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC
Hon. Robbie S. Partida-Kipness, Fifth Court of Appeals, Dallas, TX
Hon. Miriam A. Perry, 15th District Court, Ann Arbor, MI
Hon. Veronica Rivas-Malloy, Court of Appeals, First District of Texas, Houston, TX
Ms. Dianne Sheridan, Retired, San Anselmo, CA
Mrs. Lena E. Silva, Beck Redden LLP, Houston, TX
Hon. Jennifer L. Smith, Criminal Court, Div. IV, 20th Judicial District of TN, Nashville, TN
Hon. Aimee Sutton, King County Superior Court, Kent, WA
Hon. Dinsmore Tuttle, Colorado State District Court, Ft. Collins, CO
Hon. Jessica Y. Vazquez, County Criminal Court at Law Number 4, El Paso, TX
Hon. Fran J. Watson, City of Houston Municipal Court, Houston, TX
Hon. Theresa Whelan, Suffolk County Surrogate's Court, Riverhead, NY


This section recognizes those in our NAWJ community, and keeps our members apprised of notable news going on around the country. Please share any news from your district, yourself, or a member within the NAWJ community on this form so we can include in upcoming NAWJ communications. 

The Honorable G. Helen Whitener Named Judge of the Year by National Black Law Student Association's Western Region  - NAWJ member and Washington State Supreme Court Justice G. Helen Whitener was named Judge of the Year by the Western Region of the National Black Law Student Association and honored at the Western Regional Convention's 53rd Annual Awards Gala on January 9, 2021. Click here to read the full press release.

The Honorable Robin D. Pittman Honored by Loyola University - NAWJ member Hon. Robin D. Pittman, two-time Loyola University New Orleans alumna, has been named the 2020 Adjutor Hominum Recipient, the highest honor bestowed to Loyola graduates. Judge PIttman was also recently appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to the Louisiana Judiciary Commission.  Judge Pittman, a native New Orleanian, has been serving as Judge for Orleans Parish Criminal Court, Section F, since January 2009.

The Honorable Tanya R. Kennedy Receives New York State Bar Association Award - NAWJ Past President Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy is the recipient of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) 2021 John E. Higgins, Esq. Diversity Trailblazer Award. Justice Kennedy received the award during NYSBA's Annual Virtual Meeting on January 19, 2021, during the Constance Baker Motley Symposium sponsored by the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. Justice Kennedy is an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department.

Klinedinst PC Names Heather L. Rosing CEO - Klinedinst PC announces the largest leadership change in the firm's 37-year history. NAWJ member Heather L. Rosing takes over as CEO and President from firm founder John D. Klinedinst, who will serve as Chair Emeritus. Shareholders Arthur S. Moreau, III and Susan S. Nahama have also been elevated to Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, respectively. Click here to read the full press release.

The Honorable Randa Trapp to be Inducted into San Diego County Women's Hall of Fame - NAWJ Member Judge Randa Trapp will be inducted into the San Diego County Women's Hall of Fame on March 21, 2021.  Judge Trapp is being inducted under the category Trailblazer -  women who were first in their fields or whose individual accomplishments paved the way for other women.

The Honorable Ari Tobi-Aiyemo Presenting on African Women and the Law -  Join NAWJ member Hon. Ari Tobi-Aiyemo, a retired magistrate judge from Nigeria, West Africa, on February 11, 2021, in a conversation that will focus on the pre-colonial to post-colonial experiences of African women in law, from a jurisprudential viewpoint. Click here for presentation details and to register. 
NAWJ is grateful for the 2021 Resource Board Members and Landmark Sponsors who generously supported our organization.

Resource Board Members
Nicole Erb, Esq. (Co-Chair), White & Case LLP
Sarah London, Esq. (Co-Chair), Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP
Elizabeth Cabraser, Esq., Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP
Kelly Dermody, Esq., Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP
Andrea Bear Field, Esq., Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
Patricia Hollenbeck, Esq., Duane Morris LLP
Jamie Zysk Isani, Esq., Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
Robert Kaufman, Esq., Proskauer Rose LLP
Heather McDevitt, Esq., White & Case LLP
Diane McGimsey, Esq., Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
The Honorable Mary Becnel, Retired
Ron DaLessio, CourtCall
Dawn Jayma, The Killino Firm, PC
Linda Leali, Esq., Linda Leali, P.A.
Thomas Leighton, Thomson Reuters
Afsoon McClellan, LexisNexis
Donna Melby, Esq., Paul Hastings
Elaine Metlin, Esq., Retired
Christopher Poole, JAMS
Cathy Winter-Palmer, Retired
Landmark Sponsors
The Honorable Mary Becnel
Robert Kaufman
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Thomson Reuters Corporation
White & Case LLP

JAMS, Inc.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP


Did you know you can support NAWJ when you are shopping through Amazon?  AmazonSmile is a way for you to support a charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you.  AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to NAWJ when you select us as your charitable organization of choice.  Get started today by enrolling as an AmazonSmile customer or selecting NAWJ as your organization of choice if you are already enrolled.


A new study shows that Washington state girls of color are placed in detention disproportionately.  Click here to read the full press release from January 28, 2021 on the study that was sponsored by the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission.


Since its formation in 1979, NAWJ has inspired and led the American judiciary in achieving fairness and equality for vulnerable populations. 

NAWJ’s mission is 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.



NAWJ Webinar | Racial Equity In Our Justice System: What Does It Look Like and What Are We Doing To Ensure It?
February 22, 2021

SAVE THE DATE | 2021 Virtual Midyear Opening Reception
April 15, 2021

SAVE THE DATE | 2021 Virtual Midyear Meeting
April 16, 2021

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