NAWJ Monthly Update November 2020

Written by National Association of Women Judges|November 02, 2020|Monthly Update Archive

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Monthly Update

November 2020
Volume 18, Issue 10

We made it to November.

This month we celebrate the principles of democracy upon which our nation was founded by voting in the presidential election. We celebrate our Veterans and Military members. And we give thanks for all the wonderful things in our lives. Given the events of 2020, this Thanksgiving will certainly take on new importance for many.

I’m thankful and truly honored to serve as the NAWJ President for the coming year. I’m thankful for the leadership provided by our out-going President, Bernadette D’Souza. It has been a pleasure to serve with her.

I’m thankful for all of the wonderful friendships and bonds I’ve made through this incredible organization.

I’m thankful for the amazing group of women who will serve as our new officers and board members. We have a lot to do in the next year and, fortunately, have already hit the ground running. I look forward to working with each of them. Information about future webinars, podcasts, new projects, and revised committee structures will be coming soon. Please mark your calendars for the November 10th webinar featuring Professors Michele Goodwin and Ariela Gross, both of whom are experts on civil rights and race. They will engage in a discussion, moderated by Judge Terrie Roberts, on the law’s role in advancing racial injustice from an historical perspective.

I’m thankful for all of our members and ask that each of you renew your commitment to ensuring that NAWJ remains vibrant and relevant. We have many committees and programs that offer opportunities for involvement in areas that interest you. Please join a committee or help put on a program in your community. And please contact me to share your ideas about how we can Advance Justice Like Never Before – the theme I’ve chosen for 2020-21.

Hon. Karen Donohue
Judge, King County Superior Court
NAWJ President


The NAWJ 42nd Annual Conference included a one-day program with International Federation of Peace and Sustainable Development (IFPSD). Mrs. Sally Kader, Founder and President of the IFPSD, hosted the day with her distinguished guests from nations around the world. Speakers included United Nations former and current ambassadors and peacekeeping officials sharing what work has been done to bring gender equality within the UN, and within the nation communities it serves. The afternoon included a presentation from Junie Joseph, an expert on transitional justice issues in South Africa, and a panel on Sexual Harassment in the Courts, with Judge Michelle Childs, Judge Toni Clarke, Dahlia Lithwick, Donna Melby, and moderated by Kelly Dermody. The program was organized by Mrs. Kader, co-chaired by Judge Bernadette D’Souza and Col. Linda Strite Murnane, Co-Chair of NAWJ’s Military and Veteran Judges Committee. Click here to read the full recap.


The global pandemic prevented NAWJ members from meeting in person, however, President Bernadette D’Souza was determined members stay connected. She worked with staff to bring together members, colleagues, and friends online to discuss relevant topics, conduct member business, and recognize achievements during the Annual Awards presentation.  Attendees heard from Elaine Weiss on the 19th Amendment and her research on that topic. Dean Erwin Chemerinsky provided an extensive update on the Supreme Court.  The final session was a series of breakout rooms by topic including Racial Bias, COVID in the Civil Courts and Criminal Courts, the Judicial Leadership Pipeline, and the 19th Amendment.

From Thursday, October 15 to Friday, October 16, 2020 members followed their Zoom links to meet with fellow committee members, District Directors, and attend the Annual Membership Meeting to elect the 2020-2021 NAWJ Officers.  Click here for a complete recap.


The conclusion of this year's Annual Conference involved the swearing in of the 2020-2021 Officers, Special Directors, and District Directors.  Click here to view the list of all 2020-2021 Board of Directors.


NAWJ is developing a proposal for a State Justice Institute grant with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) regarding the impact of the pandemic on the state courts' response to mental illness. In March of this year, the Boards of Directors of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators took action to establish a new Task Force to assist state courts in their efforts to more effectively respond to the needs of court-involved individuals with serious mental illness. The work is supported by funding from the State Justice Institute.

Our intention is to provide educational workshops and papers for courts across the U.S.  Please contact Interim Executive Director Laurie Denham at if you are interested in being part of this initiative.


If you are not already following NAWJ on one of our social media platforms now is an opportune time. We are developing a strategy to build awareness of NAWJ and increase membership engagement through social media. Your participation is essential! Member news, event reminders, and relevant judicial content will be posted regularly. Please follow and make comments or “like” posts on any or all the accounts below:
If you have any questions regarding access to these social media platforms or have recommendations for posts, please contact

Hon. Michelle Barakat, 11th Judicial Circuit Court, Miami-Dade County, Miami, FL
Hon. Julie Bernard, Massachusetts Trial Court, Brockton, MA
Hon. Christina DiRaimondo, 11th Judicial Circuit Court, Miami, FL
Yadhira Gonzalez-Taylor, Esq., City of New York, Department of Education, New York, NY
Patricia Henrys, Esq., The Henrys Firm, P.A., Miami, FL
Hon. Lody Jean, 11th Judicial Circuit Court, Miami, FL
Lauren Lofton, Esq., Yoka & Smith, LLP, Los Angeles, CA
Hon. Theresa Neo, 6th Judicial District Court, Duluth, MN
Hon. Jacqueline M. Woodward, 11th Judicial Circuit Court, Miami, FL
Commissioner Melissa Zabor, Maricopa County Superior Court, Phoenix, AZ


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. 

 Judge Marilyn G. Paja and Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud Drive Model Anti-Harassment Policy to Washington State Courts  - NAWJ members Judge Marilyn G. Paja and Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud, co-chairs of Washington State's Gender and Justice Commission, issued their Model Anti-Harassment Policy to Washington State Courts. Click here to read the Policy.  

NAWJ Past President Judge Bernadette D’Souza Discusses Family Law, Path to the Bench with University of Virginia Law Students - On Thursday, September 24, the University of Virginia Law School Chapter of the American Constitution Society (ACS) and Virginia Law Women (VLW) virtually hosted Judge Bernadette D’Souza, NAWJ President and Judge for the Family Court of the Orleans Parish Civil District Court. Judge D’Souza encourages students to become involved in clinics, policy advocacy, and other community service projects while in law school. “Just because you’re not a lawyer does not mean you cannot advocate for people in your community.” Morgan Maloney ’22, the Director of Programming for ACS, arranged the event. “I think it is so important for all law students, but especially students from underrepresented communities, to think about careers in the judiciary while still in law school,” Ms. Maloney said. “I hope that the event inspired some students who had not formerly considered a career as a judge to begin to think about that as a potential career path.”

Judge Faye Chess Helps Girl Scouts Earn Democracy Badge - NAWJ member Judge Faye Chess served as the main speaker for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s democracy week workshops October 26-31. Judge Chess, who serves on the Seattle Municipal Court, worked with five groups of Girl Scouts six age levels (grades 2-12) to teach them about local and federal government and help them earn their Democracy Badge.

Commissioner Pennie McLaughlin Honored by California Judges Association, San Diego County Bar Association - NAWJ Board member Commissioner Pennie K. McLaughlin (San Diego Superior Court) was the recipient of two awards in September. She was honored by the California Judges Association as its 2020 recipient of the Alba Witkin Humanitarian Award for her humanitarian work, and she was recognized by the San Diego County Bar Association as its 2020 Service Award honoree for working in the community to help others.  Click here to read more.

Resource Members in the News- NAWJ Resource Board member Thomas C. Leighton of Thomson Reuters has been selected to receive the prestigious 2020 American Inns of Court A. Sherman Christensen Award, which recognizes those who have provided exceptional leadership to the American Inns of Court movement. Another NAWJ Resource Board member Sarah London of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein has been named by The Recorder to its second annual list of "California Trailblazers."  Click here to read more on both honors.

Remembering Maryland Member, Judge Sue-Ellen Hantman- The Honorable Sue-Ellen Hantman of Columbia, Maryland, and a long-term member of NAWJ, passed away on Friday, October 2, 2020.  A former Assistant State's Attorney, she also sat on the Maryland District Court for Howard County, and following her retirement established a mediation practice.
NAWJ is grateful for the 2020 Resource Board Members and Landmark Sponsors who have 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

NAWJ and Detroit Mercy Law School Host Virtual MentorJet

Thank you to an enthusiastic planning committee of NAWJ District 7 Director, Judge Michelle Rick (29th Circuit Court), and NAWJ Michigan State Chair and Court Administrator Zenell B. Brown, and Jeanette Heacox, both of the Third Circuit Court, and Detroit Mercy Law School student Rebecca Zarras,  who is Vice-President of the school’s Women's Law Caucus.  Click here to read more about the mentors in the program book.

Remembering District Court Judge Rebecca Cryer

The Norman Transcript in Norman, Oklahoma painted a well written picture of District Court Judge Rebecca Cryer.  You can read the entire article here.  There were also lovely tributes written by the Choctaw Nation Judicial Branch and New York Times.


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 Injustice 101: The Law's Historical Role in Establishing and Maintaining Racial Injustice
November 10, 2020

MentorJet with Michigan State University College of Law
November 12, 2020

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