NAWJ Monthly Update March 2021

Written by National Association of Women Judges|March 04, 2021|Monthly Update Archive

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Monthly Update

March 2021
Volume 19, Issue 3

Dear Colleagues and Friends,
One year before the formation of NAWJ, in 1978, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (CA) Commission on the Status of Women called for a “Women’s History Week.” March 8th, International Women’s Day, was the focal point of the observance. The following year, Sarah Lawrence College hosted national leaders of organizations for women and girls to participate in the Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. President Carter, who did much to increase the number of women on the federal bench, issued the first Presidential Proclamation during the week of March 8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week. The celebrations of the achievements of American women spread rapidly and in 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month.

This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is “Choose to Challenge.” The theme for Women’s History Month is “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced” as an extended celebration of women winning the right to vote. Keeping these two themes in mind, I decided to come up with a list of five women in history who chose to challenge or refused to be silenced that I would invite to a dinner party. Limiting the list to five was extraordinarily difficult, but I chose Nina Simone, Harriet Tubman, Sandra Day O’Conner, Billie Jean King and Kamala Harris - each of whom have advanced justice in their own way.  

Nina Simone overcame poverty and discrimination to earn the title “The High Priestess of Soul.” In the early ‘60s she recorded the song “Mississippi Goddam” which is a moving civil rights protest song written in response to the murders of Emmett Till and Medger Evans, as well as the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Unfortunately, Ms. Simone’s later life was troubled but her talent was enormous and her influence undeniable. Slave, abolitionist, Union Army scout and spy, woman’s suffragist and political activist – Harriet Tubman is a true shero. Sandra Day O’Connor was, of course, the first – what that must have entailed. The stories of being the first woman in an institution that had been dominated by white males for nearly two hundred years would be amazing to hear over a lengthy dinner.  Full disclosure: I’m a tennis fan and played frequently before taking up my current positions, so Billie Jean King’s advocacy for gender equality and social justice – and her triumph over Bobby Riggs -earn her a spot at the table. And finally, Madame Vice President. Full stop. I get goose bumps even typing that title. Drop me a line and let me know who you’d include at your dinner party. There is still so much to do to achieve gender and racial equity – I’m sure there are many who would add to an interesting dialogue.

Shifting gears, our committees are really active this year. This is where we are most effective and I’m grateful to all for the amazing work that you are accomplishing. NAWJ members have also been busy participating in webinars, recording podcasts, and planning programs. I was honored to participate in the Racial Justice Roundtable, sponsored by the National Judicial College and the National Center for State Courts on February 25th.  On February 22nd, Commissioner Nadia Keilani and the Racial Equity section of the Fairness and Access Committee hosted the excellent webinar “Racial Equity in Our Justice System: What Does it Look Like and What Are We Doing to Ensure it?”. If you were unable to attend, please take the time to watch it. It is available on the website, as are our other exceptional webinars.

Podcasts regarding the impact of the pandemic on criminal and immigration courts, as well as the impact of technology on our work can be found on More topics will be added in the coming months. Thank you to Judge Mimi Tsankov and Judge Brandy Mueller who have taken the lead on our podcasts thus far, to those who have participated and to Judge Liz Lee who outlined a series of  future programs at the request of Judge Bernadette D’Souza. Future webinars will explore juvenile justice and domestic violence and “Post Pandemic Justice, Virtual, in Person or a Hybrid” which Judge Elizabeth White is developing along with members of our Resource Board for presentation this spring.

Finally, we are now six weeks away from the virtual Midyear Meeting, which will be held the afternoon/early evening of April 15th and all-day April 16th. We will open with hosted discussions between Resource Board members and judges on a variety of topics, followed by an interactive Welcome Reception. On Friday, we will have two education sessions: Racial Inequities as a Judicial Officer - The Personal Stories of Three African-American Justices and Thriving as a Judge and as a Person During and After the Pandemic. These sessions will be followed by
reports from committee chairs and the board meeting. Registration is open. Please mark your calendars and see the Save the Date announcement elsewhere in the Monthly Update for more information.
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.  This year's educational sessions include Racial Inequities as a Judicial Officer: The Personal Stories of Three African-American Justices and Thriving as a Judge and as a Person During and After the Pandemic.

Registration is now open.  Click here to view the full agenda and reserve your spot today!


On February 22, 2021, the NAWJ Fairness and Access Committee presented their second webinar highlighting the role of race and ethnicity in our justice system.  The distinguished panelists were: Hon. Cheri Beasley, Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina; Hon. Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, Chief Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals; Hon. Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California; and Hon. Vanessa Ruiz, Senior Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Click here to view the webinar.

Mr. Robert Ackley, Ackley Law, Libertyville, IL
Hon. Mary Lou Alvarez, 45th District Court, Texas, San Antonio, TX
Hon. Kori Lynn Ashley, Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Milwaukee, WI
Hon. Kathy G. Bergmann, NYS Supreme Court. Riverhead, NY
Ms. Grace Casas-Rowe, Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Miami, FL
Hon. Tara Clark Newberry, Eighth Judicial District Court Nevada, Las Vegas, NV
Hon. Angelita Dalton, Davidson County, TN Criminal Court, Nashville, TN
Hon. Christina F. DeJoseph, Onondaga County, Syracuse, NY
Hon. Ana Escobar, Davidson County General Sessions, Brentwood, TN
Hon. Elisabeth Espinosa, Miami-Dade County Court, Miami, FL
Hon. Donna-Marie E. Golia, UCS New York State, Douglaston, NY
Hon. Michaelle Gonzalez-Paulson, 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami, FL
Hon. Julie Goodman, Fayette Circuit Court, 22nd Circuit, Division 4, Lexington, KY
Hon. Marguerite T. Grant, Massachusetts Appeals Court, Boston, MA
Hon. Shera Grant, 10th Judicial Circuit of Alabama, Birmingham, AL
Hon. Amparo Guerra, Texas First Court of Appeals, Houston, TX
Hon. Marissa L. Gunn, D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Patricia A. Harris, U.S. Army, Fairfax, VA
Hon. Lynne Hobbs, Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles, CA
Commissioner Catherine Hohenwarter, Yolo Superior Court, Woodland, CA
Hon. Joscelyn Jones, Alameda County Superior Court, Brentwood, CA
Hon. David S. Keenan, King County Superior Court, Seattle, WA
Hon. C. Renee Little, North Carolina 26th Judicial District, Charlotte, NC
Hon. Christy R. Little, General Sessions Court, Division II, Madison Co., Jackson, TN
Hon. Thomas Logue, Third District Court of Appeal, Coral Gables, FL
Hon. Bronwyn Miller, Third District Court of Appeal, Miami, FL
Miss Kumbukeni Mjuweni, Delaware Law School, Havertown, PA
Hon. Shanta Owens, 10th Judicial Circuit of Alabama, Birmingham, AL
Hon. Dweynie Paul, Kings County Civil Court, Brooklyn, NY
Hon. Annabell Perez, 41st Judicial District Court, El Paso, TX
Hon. Lisette M. Reid, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami, FL
Ms. Shamim Shivji, Shamim Shivji Law, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Hon. Susan Solheim, State of Minnesota, Fargo, ND
Hon. Monica Thompson Guidry, Executive Office of Immigration Review, Houston, TX
Hon. Marisa Tinkler Mendez, 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami, FL
Ms. Krisina J. Zuniga, Susman Godfrey, Houston, TX


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 Samantha Jessner Elevated and Honored by ABA - In October 2020, Judge Samantha Jessner made history when she was elected as the Assistant Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. She is the first woman of color to ever hold that position, and only the third woman in the court’s 140-year history.  She was also recently selected as an honoree for the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center's distinguished Women of Legal Tech list of 2021. Click here to read more.

The Honorable Joan Weber Selected for California Women Lawyers Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award - Judge Joan Weber, a longstanding NAWJ member, and Past President of the California Judges Association was selected as this year’s California Women Lawyers (CWL) Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award honoree. Click here to read more.

The Honorable Margo Lewis Hoy Honored by American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers for Southern California - Judge Margo Lewis Hoy was awarded Judicial Officer of the Year award by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers for Southern California.  Click here to read more.
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.


Interested in expanding your face mask "wardrobe"?  Nikki Gersten would love the opportunity to work with NAWJ members to create handmade-to-order and custom items, such as her RBG face mask.  She will donate a portion of her sales back to NAWJ.  Nikki is Founder and Design Director of Robot Bunnies, a fashion creation company where "modern design meets artisanal technique in whimsical and wonderful lifestyle products for humans big and small".  Robot Bunnies is a philanthropic organization that made and donated blankets to Babies at the Border who were separated from their families.


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.

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