NAWJ Monthly Update November 2013

Written by National Association of Women Judges|November 01, 2013|Monthly Update Archive

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November 2013

In This Issue:

It was my honor and privilege to be sworn in as NAWJ's new President on October 12, 2013 at our annual conference in New Orleans, LA! I wish to thank our out-going President, Joan Churchill, for her leadership and for the phenomenal programs and work of NAWJ during her tenure. It has been a pleasure to serve with her.

I am excited and I look forward to the coming year. The theme I have chosen for my term as President is "NAWJ: Ensuring Access to Justice for All". Through cutting-edge judicial education, community outreach, leadership development and mentoring programs, I will work to continue NAWJ's mission of promoting the rule of law through innovative and inspired programming that will promote diverse judicial leadership, fairness and equality in the courts and equal access to justice. I will continue NAWJ's vital role of mentoring and encouraging a new generation of women to pursue careers in the law and in the judiciary. Additionally, I will work to expand NAWJ's partnerships and collaborative endeavors so that NAWJ's work can impact a wider audience.

NAWJ has been a vital part of my professional and personal development during my 17 years as judge, first as a magistrate judge, then as a Superior Court trial judge and now on the highest court of the District of Columbia - the Court of Appeals. My mother, Justice Laura D. Blackburne (retired) and I first joined NAWJ together in 1995 as the only mother /daughter judges in the country! I also wish to thank my husband Judge Robert Rigsby for his service as both a civilian judge on our District of Columbia Superior Court and as a Military Judge in the United States Army Reserves. Public service is a core value that has been instilled in me by my parents and one that my husband and I share and strive to pass on to our son. Since 1995, I have had the opportunity to grow personally and professionally through my work with NAWJ as a District 4 officer, on various NAWJ committees and through my service for the last five years on NAWJ's National Board of Directors. Above all else, I have valued the opportunity to meet and work with phenomenal women judges from across the country and around the world and to work with lawyers around the country on NAWJ's important program initiatives.

We have important and exciting work to do this year and I need your help. NAWJ has many committees and programs that offer unique ways to get involved around issues of importance to you. Pick one thing that interests you and feel free to share your ideas for new programs to address emerging needs! Please join me and get engaged in this wonderful organization! I look forward to serving as your new NAWJ President and working with you to "Ensure Access to Justice for All"!

Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby

Click here to read bio.

Danbury Prison To Remain
NAWJ Community Joins with Partners, Legislators
Services for Women in Prison to Increase

In 2012, ever present to the conditions of women in prison, NAWJ's Women in Prison Committee learned of the federal Bureau of Prison's (BOP) request for operating funds to create a new large women's prison in Aliceville, Alabama. The proposed isolated location meant that family visits would be very difficult for inmates outside of the region. Initial inquiries from the Women in Prison (WIP) concluded there was nothing it could do to change the BOP's plans.

Much to WIP's surprise and horror, in July 2013 the BOP announced it was going to close the only women's prison in the northeast, Danbury, Connecticut, and send most of the women to the new prison in Aliceville. Danbury has a residential drug program, a gynecologist on staff, and volunteer groups in a metropolitan area that provide services. Aliceville, despite the best efforts of its chamber of commerce, had very little.

The Committee contacted additional individuals and groups who might share its view that closing Danbury would be detrimental to the women inmates and their families, particularly children, who lived in the Northeast. The WIP put together a grass roots effort to keep Danbury open including Professor Judith Resnik and others at the Liman Center at Yale; Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE); Lynn Hecht Schafran, Legal Momentum; Nan Aron, Alliance for Justice; Judy Lichtman, National Partnership for Women & Families; Marcia Greenberger; and Piper Kerman, Board Member of the Women's Prison Association in New York.

On August 22, 2013, NAWJ President-elect Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, Judges Patricia Wald, Gladys Kessler, and Brenda Murray, Professor Brenda V. Smith, and Charlie Sullivan (CURE) met with Charles Samuels, BOP Director. On August 26, 2013, the same group met with Deputy Attorney General James Cole.

Professor Resnik and Lynn Schafran worked with Congressional staffers, Senators Richard Blumenthal (CT), Robert P. Casey, Jr., (PA), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (NY), Angus S. King (Maine), Patrick Leahy (VT), Edward J. Markey (MA), Christopher Murphy (CT), Bernard Sanders (VT), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Charles E. Schumer (NY), and Elizabeth Warren (MA), to write to BOP Director Samuels expressing concern.

The judiciary was amazing. U.S. District Court Chief Judges Carol B. Amon, Deborah Chasanow, Christopher C. Conner, Janet Hall, Joseph Laplante, Mary L. Lisi, Michael A. Posnor, Loretta A. Preska, Patti B. Saris, Jerome B. Simandle, William B. Skretny, Gregory Sleet, Mark L. Wolfe, John Woodcock, and Judge Rya W. Zobel, also wrote to Director Samuels.

On November 6, 2013, the BOP Director called the WIP and informed us that there would continue to be a 200-bed secured facility at Danbury with all existing services and program; a new 50-bed facility in Brooklyn, New York; and a committee of wardens to advise on best practices for treating women. NAWJ's status made this possible. Thank you to Joan Dempsey Klein and Vaino Spencer.

NAWJ Continues Plans for Hosting the IAWJ 2016 Biennial Conference
Washington, D.C. • May 26-29, 2016
Criteria for Selection of 2016 Biennial Co-chairs Announced
Volunteers for Committees Sought

Criteria for Selection of 2016 Biennial Co-chairs
The National Association of Women Judges is honored to host the 2016 IAWJ Biennial Conference in Washington, DC. The dates of the Biennial Conference will be May 26-29, 2016. (Thursday through Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in 2016).

Since this is a multi-year, multi-national, multi-organizational undertaking, it is important that the selection process be open and transparent and to that end, the following criteria will guide the process for selecting the co-chairs for the 2016 Biennial.

Applicants interested in serving as co-chairs should have:
  1. Demonstrated involvement in NAWJ and/or IAWJ
  2. Experience organizing NAWJ, IAWJ or other national, regional or state conferences
  3. International experience
  4. Excellent interpersonal skills
  5. Willingness to make a significant time commitment to participate in conference calls, electronic communication and in person meetings to advance the planning of the conference.

Additional considerations include:
  1. One co-chair should be based in Washington, DC in order to facilitate meetings and communications with NAWJ and IAWJ leadership
  2. Additional co-chairs should reflect national representation
  3. Interested persons should submit a brief letter of interest to NAWJ Executive Director Marie Komisar, by Friday, November 15, 2013.
  4. Decisions will be made by Dec 15, 2013.

The selection committee will include:
  • Judge Anna-Blackburne-Rigsby, President
  • Judge Julie Frantz, President-Elect
  • Judge Ann Bradley Walsh, International Director
  • Judge Gladys Kessler, Past President
  • Judge Amy Nechtem, Past President
  • Marie Komisar, Executive Director
  • Additional members may be added to the selection committee
  • Volunteer for NAWJ's 2016 IAWJ 13th Biennial International Conference Planning Committee

    NAWJ is creating planning committees for the 2016 IAWJ Biennial Conference. Volunteers may serve on the following committees: Friends; Education; Silent Auction; Publicity and Public Relations; Fundraising; "Goodie Bags"; Hospitality; Tours and Entertainment; Scholarships; Opening Ceremony; Social Events; and Volunteers.

    If you are interested in serving on the 2016 IAWJ Biennial Planning Committee, please notify Mary-Kathleen Todd of your interest and any volunteer preferences. Ms. Todd may be reached by email at

National Association of Women Judges
2014 Midyear Meeting and Leadership Conference
March 12-15, 2014

NAWJ's 2014 Midyear Meeting and Leadership Conference will be held in Washington, D.C. at The Westin Georgetown from March 12-15, 2014. Click here to download the registration form.

On the evening of November 6, NAWJ President Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, District of Columbia Court of Appeals, hosted a kick-off for the planning of the 2014 Midyear Leadership Conference at the offices of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Washington, D.C. Over 150 people attended to support NAWJ's new President and plan for the Midyear Conference. A special thank you 2014 Host Committee Chair Morgan Lewis's Washington, D.C. Office Managing Partner Grace Speights, and Co-Chairs Barbara L. Johnson, Esq., Partner at Paul Hastings LLC, and Beverly L. Perry, Esq. Photos above and here.

New Orleans Proves a Cornucopia of Sociolegal Revelations,
Member Industry and Good Times
NAWJ Celebrates its 35th Annual Conference
Judging and all that Jazz Photo Albums on View Here

After two years of planning and leadership, 2013 Annual Conference Co-Chairs Hon. Mary Becnel (40th Judicial District Court) and Hon. Bernette Joshua Johnson (Louisiana Supreme Court) successfully and joyfully gathered judges, attorneys, authors, educators, New Orleneans, Louisianans, members of the wider legal and women's communities to discuss current issues including human trafficking, sexual assault in the military, women in prison, assisted reproductive technology, the new politics of judicial selection, and life after judicial service. Additional planning committee members included: Judge Tiffany Chase, Orleans Parish Civil District Court; Judge June Berry Darensburg, 24th Judicial District Court; Judge Bernadette G. D'Souza, Orleans Parish Civil District Court (Family); Judge Vanessa Guidry-Whipple, First Circuit Court of Appeal; Judge Phyllis Montgomery Keaty, Third Circuit Court of Appeal; Professor of Political Science Sally J. Kenney, Tulane University Newcomb College Endowed Chair; Judge Rosemary Ledet, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal; Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal; Kathryn Venturatos Lorio, Leon Sarpy Distinguished Professor of Law, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law; Judge Ethel Simms Julien, Orleans Parish Civil District Court; Judge Sylvia Steib-Dunn, Office of Workers' Compensation; and Judge Laurie A. White, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.

Highlights included a welcoming reception hosted by the Louisiana Supreme Court at the Court, and excursions to the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women and Eden House, a two-year residential program for women who have been commercially and sexually exploited. Through Eden House, women receive wrap-around services such as counseling, education, and job training.

The annual conference is always a time to share. During its annual business meeting, committees convened to share news and advancements in the ongoing areas of human trafficking, domestic violence, women in prison, international exchange, and in new projects of voter education and tribal judges membership outreach. Board leadership reported work of the past year, and new board members were sworn in.

Outstanding members were recognized with NAWJ's Annual Award. The Honorable Bernette Joshua Johnson, Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, accepted this year Justice Joan Dempsey Klein Award, during the Friends Luncheon. The award recognized Justice Johnson's assistance to women judges in becoming more proficient in their profession, her persistence in solving the legal, social and ethical problems associated with the judiciary, and working to increase the number of women serving as judges. The Honorable Patricia Ann Hurst, Superior Court of the State of Rhode Island, was also recognized at the Luncheon. She was honored with the Norma Wickler Excellence in Service Award for her devotion to assuring that NAWJ's finances are in order and compliant with tax, audit and regulatory requirements. During the Banquet, Professor of Political Science Sally Kenney, was honored with The Florence K. Murray Award for her service to NAWJ, and to the cause of gender diversity in the judiciary through her teaching, research and activism. This year's Justice Vaino Spencer Leadership Award recognized Justice Joan K. Irion, Chair of NAWJ's newly formed Judicial Elections Committee, for her entrepreneurial creation of NAWJ's 'Informed Voters. Fair Judges' Project. Click here to learn more about the project. The Mattie Belle Davis Award Judge Tamila Ebrahimi Ipema. Judge Ipema presented the first NAWJ Color of Justice and MentorJet programs for the community of San Diego, California in 2011. This program is being continued on an annual basis. Judge Tamila Ipema sits on the San Diego County Superior Court in California.

The Banquet was capped by the swearing-in of NAWJ's 34th President Honorable Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, Judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. A full list of this year's Board of Directors may be found later in this Update.

NAWJ's "Judging and all That" Conference took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 9-13, 2013 at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Over 400 persons attended, including international judges from around the world.

Pin/Pendant Designed Especially for the New Orleans Conference for Sale
by Dominique Giordano Jewelry

NAWJ Pin/Pendant


This new pin/pendant has been co-designed by New Orleans Annual Conference Co-Chair Judge Mary Hotard Becnel and jewelry designer Dominique Giordano. It is made of sterling silver with fresh water pearls. It also comes in a gold version for women lawyers.

The jewelry designer is graciously donating 10% of sales back to NAWJ. If you have questions or want to order email, download order form here or visit


The National Association of Women Judges swore in officers for its 2013-2014 year at its Annual Gala Banquet and Business Meeting on Saturday October 12th in New Orleans. The announcements were made nearing the end of one of NAWJ's most celebrated conferences. Judging and all that Jazz, the Association's 35th Annual Conference which took place in downtown New Orleans, from October 9-13, 2013, at host hotel The Ritz-Carlton. The Annual Business Meeting and Gala recognizes the Association's year of achievements, and formally inducts new board members for the upcoming year.


Hon. Anna Blackburne-Rigsby
District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Washington, D.C.

Hon. Julie E. Frantz
Multnomah County Circuit Court
Portland, Oregon

Vice President, Publications
Hon. Ariane Vuono
Massachusetts Appeals Court
Boston, Massachusetts

Vice President, Districts
Hon. Lisa S. Walsh
Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida
Miami, Florida

Hon. Marcella A. Holland
Circuit Court for Baltimore City
Baltimore, Maryland
Hon. Diana Becton
Contra Costa County Superior Court
Martinez, California

Immediate Past President
Hon. Joan V. Churchill
Immigration Court (Retired)
Chevy Chase, Maryland

Finance Committee Chair
Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy
New York State Supreme Court
New York, New York

Projects Committee Chair
Hon. Sue Pai Yang
New Jersey Workers Compensation Court (Retired)
Bridgewater, New Jersey


District 1 (ME, MA, NH, PR, RI)
Hon. MaryLou Muirhead
Boston Housing Court
Boston, Massachusetts

District 2 (CT, NY, VT)
Hon. Betty J. Williams
Kings County Criminal Court
Brooklyn, New York

District 3 (DE, NJ, PA, Virgin Islands)
Hon. Sheila Woods-Skipper
Court of Common Pleas, 1st Judicial District
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

District 4 (DC, MD, VA)
Hon. Toni E. Clarke
Circuit Court for Prince George's County
Upper Marlboro, Maryland

District 5 (FL, GA, NC, SC)
Hon. Diana S. Eagon
Hennepin County District Court (Retired)
Nokomis, Florida

District 6 (AL, LA, MS, TN)
Hon. Joy Cossich Lobrano
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal
New Orleans, Louisiana

District 7 (MI, OH, WV)
Hon. Margaret A. Clark
Brown County Probate/Juvenile Court
Georgetown, OH

District 8 (IL, IN, KY)
Hon. Ann Breen-Greco
Illinois State Board of Education
Chicago, IL

District 9 (IA, MO, WI)
Hon. Karen A. Romano
Iowa District Court
Des Moines, Iowa

District 10 (KS, MN, NE, ND, SD)
Hon. Debbie Kleven
Northeast Central Judicial District
Grand Forks, North Dakota

District 11 (AR, OK, TX)
Hon. Orlinda Naranjo
419th District Court
Austin, TX

District 12 (AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY)
Hon. Terry Fox
Colorado Court of Appeals
Denver, CO

District 13 (AK, HI, ID, MT, WA, OR)
Hon. Catherine Easter
Anchorage Superior Court
Anchorage, AK

District 14 (CA, NV)
Hon. Tamila E. Ipema
San Diego County Superior Court
Carlsbad, California


International Director
Hon. Ann Walsh Bradley
Wisconsin Supreme Court
Madison, Wisconsin

ABA Delegate
Hon. Norma Shapiro
U.S. District Court, Eastern District
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

New and Newly Interested Members
Signup for NAWJ Committees

All NAWJ members, regardless of membership category, are encouraged to participate in NAWJ Committees for the upcoming 2013-2014 year. If you have not done so already, please email committees of interest to you to Craig Evans at See complete list of open committees below:

Administrative Judiciary Committee
Amicus Committee
Bylaws Committee
Conference Site Selection Committee
Domestic Violence Committee
Ethics Committee
Fairness and Access Committee
Federal Judges Committee
Human Trafficking Committee
IAWJ 2016 Planning Committees (see subcommittee lists above)
International Outreach Committee
International Courts Subcommittee
Judicial Exchanges/Visits Subcommittee
International Parental Abduction Liaison Network Committee
Judicial Academic Network/ Judicial Education Committee
Judicial Elections
Judicial Independence Committee
Judicial Selection Committee
Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Committee
Media and Public Relations Committee
Membership Outreach and Retention Committee
Data Review Subcommittee
Tribal Judges Outreach Subcommittee
Military Courts Committee
New Judges Committee
Projects Committee
Resolutions Committee
Retired/Senior Judges Committee
Rural Courts Committee
Web Site Improvements Special Task Force
Women in Prison Committee

Early-bird registration open until December 31, 2013!

Early-bird registration is now open for the International Association of Women Judges' 12th Biennial International Conference - Justice For All. The Conference will be held in Arusha, Tanzania from May 5 - 9, 2014. The event is an inspirational, professional and personal opportunity to learn from and connect with IAWJ members from around the world.

Early-bird registration fee is available until December 31, 2013. We hope that you will take advantage of this opportunity and register early! Many people are already making their travel arrangements and planning personal safaris to tour incredible sites such as the Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti, Tarangire, and the Kilimanjaro Mountain and discover exotic Tanzanian wildlife.

You can find more information about the conference, the agenda, special hotel rates, member organized and licensed tour listings and visa information on the IAWJ website.

We anticipate a great turnout and look forward to seeing you there!

2014 IAWJ Conference Tour Offerings-Private Tours
NEW - Post Conference Offering

May 10-16, 2014 (6 nights/7 days)
Click here to download the Small World Travelers brochure.


A South Africa trip designed for women judges on their way to Tanzania for the 2014 IAWJ Biennial Conference in Arusha is being planned by Judge Bev Cutler (U.S.) through Stanford University Educational Travel. If at least 10 travelers sign up, the trip will go forward. The approximate dates are April 26 - May 5. The tour guide will primarily speak English, and will focus on persons and places of interest to women judges. It will include a three-day safari. Click here to read the package of information. Contact Judge Cutler at for more information.

NAWJ Past President and active member Hon. Carolyn Temin has collaborated with Premier Tours to create an exciting tour for IAWJ conference attendees. It will require 10 participants in order to keep the price as quoted. It will begin and end at a hotel in Arusha where you can stay for the entire conference. Participants will be able to store their luggage at the hotel and not take it on the safari.

Land arrangements (including flights in Tanzania): $3755.00 per person sharing, approximate. This price is based on ten people traveling together. Should the number of participants decrease, Premier Tours reserves the right to adjust prices accordingly. Click here to read the complete announcement. If you have any questions please call Judge Temin at (267) 577-3401 or email her at

Please note that these will be private, non-NAWJ trips.

NAWJ's 2014 Midyear Meeting and Leadership Conference will be held in Washington, D.C. at The Westin Georgetown from March 12-15, 2014.

The 2014 International Association of Women Judges Bi-Annual Conference will take place May 5-9, 2014 in Arusha, Tanzania. Click here for more conference details.

NAWJ 36th Annual Conference will take place October 15-19, 2014 at Westin Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, California.

NAWJ will hold its 37th Annual Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dates are yet to be determined.

The International Association of Women Judges Biennial will be hosted in the United States by the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) in Washington D.C. from May 26-29, 2016.

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