NAWJ Monthly Update December 2013

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

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December 2013

In This Issue:

It has been a busy and exciting first month and a half as your new NAWJ President! As we begin the holiday season, I pause to reflect on what a privilege we as judges and lawyers have to serve our communities through the work we do in our respective courts and law offices around the country. But NAWJ also provides us with a unique opportunity to more broadly "Ensure Access to Justice for All" through NAWJ's education, outreach and mentoring programs. During this holiday season, let us all continue to give the gift of our service.

On November 6, 2013, I attended the Welcome and Kick-Off Reception for our Mid-Year Conference, at the beautiful venue of the Morgan, Lewis and Bockius' downtown Washington, DC office. Many thanks to our dynamic host committee co-chairs, Beverly Perry, retired Vice-President of PEPCO, Grace Speights, partner at Morgan Lewis and Bokius and Barbara Johnson, partner at Paul Hastings, for generating such enthusiastic support and excitement for the Mid-Year Leadership conference!

Many thanks to our San Diego 2014 Annual Conference Co-Chairs Tamila Ipema and Margie Woods and our stellar San Diego Friends Committee for inviting me to the Friends Committee reception hosted at the San Diego Bar Association offices on November 14, 2013! Thank you to Justice Judith McConnell for her gracious introduction of me to the San Diego bench and bar! The beautiful sunny weather and warm hospitality were a wonderful preview of what we all have to look forward to next October in San Diego. The San Diego committee has a phenomenal educational program planned with Justice Sonya Sotomayor as our keynote speaker! While in San Diego, I had the opportunity to see a screening of a gripping documentary about the Mexican judicial system, "Presumed Guilty".

On November 21, 2013, I represented NAWJ at the U.S. Supreme Court, at the National Center for State Court's Annual Rehnquist Dinner. I was joined by our immediate past president, Joan Churchill.

November 21st was a very busy evening, because I also represented NAWJ at the iLive2Lead Awards reception, where our former NAWJ President, Vanessa Ruiz received the "Trail Blazer Award"! I had the pleasure of introducing Vanessa and talking about NAWJ and some of our exciting programs! iLive2Lead is an exciting international leadership development program for teen girls from around the world! They were very excited to learn about NAWJ's Color of Justice and Mentor Jet programs, which may provide some great opportunities for collaboration between our two organizations. I also described the important work of the IAWJ and its many judicial members from around the world.

On November 25, 2013, I represented NAWJ as a panelist at the New Jersey Judicial College's annual educational program in Teaneck, NJ. The panel was titled "Glass Ceilings, Sticky Floors, the Intersections of Race and Gender: Women of Color Navigating the Legal Profession".

Other highlights this month include:
  • Bi-weekly meetings of the Informed Voters Project (IVP) Core Leadership Team to support the phenomenal efforts of IVP Chair, Justice Joan Irion. The IVP project has garnered support from many partners and is preparing to roll out its important civic educations program about the importance of a fair an independent judiciary.
  • Outreach and invitations to our dedicated NAWJ Resource Board Members to participate on monthly District Director conference calls and to participate on NAWJ committees. Many thanks to our outstanding Resource Board Co-Chairs, Elaine Metlin and Karen McKeown-Johnson!
  • Outreach to NAWJ Past Presidents, on whose shoulders we stand.
  • Working on making NAWJ committee assignments to engage and maximize the participation of NAWJ members.

Have a peaceful and blessed holiday season! Thank you for your service and for the important work that you do in "Ensuring Access to Justice for All!

Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby

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

You may also inform Craig Evans if you can no longer participate on any of your assigned committees.

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

Midyear Conference logo

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

Register online or download and fax this registration form.
Conference registration fees:
$425 for NAWJ Members ($375 before February 13)
$525 for Non-Members Judges ($475 before February 13)
$375 Guest Rate (Guests are spouses and children of conference attendees.)

Room Reservations: Click here or call (202) 429-0100.
NAWJ Rate*: $199/night, plus applicable taxes, single or double occupancy, available until February 24, 2014.
* The NAWJ block usually sells out. Reserve today to ensure reservation.

Hon. Anna Blackburne-Rigsby


Barbara L. Johnson, Esq., Partner, Paul Hastings LLC
Beverly L. Perry, Esq. Pepco Holdings, Inc (Retired)
Grace E. Speights, Esq., Managing Partner, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP

President Obama Honors Judge Patricia Wald
with Medal of Freedom in White House Ceremony

The White House announced this summer that President Barack Obama would award the Medal of Freedom to the Honorable Patricia Wald, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The President hosted the 2013 award ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Nov. 20th, where Judge Wald was recognized for her lifetime of accomplishments.

Click here to view the ceremony. Click here to read his remarks.

A longtime member of NAWJ, Judge Patricia Wald is one of the most respected appellate judges of her generation. Following her graduation from Yale Law School where she was one of 11 women in her class, Justice Wald became the first woman appointed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She served as Chief Judge from 1986-1991. She later served on the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Judge Wald currently serves on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

Myrna S. Raeder

"Professor Myrna Raeder, a faculty member of the Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles for nearly 35 years, passed away on November 16. A prominent national figure in legal education and the advancement of criminal justice, Professor Raeder was one of the most highly regarded experts in evidence and a leading advocate for gender equity in the legal profession and the criminal justice system." Upon learning of Professor Raeder's passing NAWJ Past President Judge Gladys Kessler remarked "she was a dear sweet person, a feminist of very long standing, totally devoted to bettering the lives of women in prison and had just attended the program at the White House, and was active in our fight to preserve Danbury for women and their families."

Myrna Raeder received one of the American Bar Association's highest honors, the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, in 2002. In speaking of her close colleague of over 30 years, Professor Catherine Carpenter said, "Myrna was a leader among women in the academy before there were Women's groups, and certainly before there was a critical mass of women in legal education. She embodied what it meant to be a trailblazer. Her network was vast, and was only surpassed by her knowledge and passion for women's and children's issues."

Read more about Professor Myrna Raeder here.

A memorial service in Professor Raeder's memory will be held in January. The family has requested that donations made in her memory be to the Myrna Raeder Scholarship Endowment Fund at Southwestern. Information regarding the fund may be obtained from Associate Dean Debra Leathers at

Give to NAWJ's Annual Giving Campaign
Click here to find a link to secure donations.

It is that time of year when NAWJ asks all its members to dig deep in their pockets and make an extra contribution to our beloved organization as part of your holiday season giving. Please be as generous as you can, and if your dues are up for renewal, please renew promptly and add an additional donation.

The theme chosen this year by NAWJ President Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby is "NAWJ: Ensuring Access to Justice for All". Through cutting-edge judicial education, community outreach, leadership development and mentoring programs, NAWJ will continue its 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. NAWJ will also continue its vital role of mentoring and encouraging a new generation to pursue careers in the law and in the judiciary. Additionally, NAWJ will continue to expand its partnerships and collaborative endeavors so that NAWJ's work can impact a wider audience. NAWJ needs your continued support to accomplish these goals.

NAWJ is involved, as you know, in extraordinary activities on behalf of those whose voices are not readily heard in the justice system. We do this through national and local conferences, through our projects and training programs, and the work of our committees.

Through our involvement with the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), founded by NAWJ, and our International Outreach Committee we are also engaged in work internationally to promote the Rule of Law. In fact, NAWJ will host the 2016 Biennial Conference of the IAWJ in Washington, DC.

Our activities are expanding, but our resources are not. Fundraising is proving to be more and more difficult and our dues cover only a small fraction of our expenses. A holiday donation from you would be a big help, either individually or via a family foundation or other grant-making organization with which you may be involved. These are challenging times for the issues at the core of NAWJ's mission. We have a lot of work to do. Our Districts and Committees are up and running, ready to carry out our work for the coming year. Let's join together to support NAWJ's financial needs to get it done.

Please note that we have added a new feature on our website, which allows members to make a general contribution to NAWJ, or to designate that your contribution go toward one of your favorite NAWJ programs or projects.

Very Best Wishes for a Wonderful Holiday Season for you and yours,

Marie Komisar
NAWJ Executive Director

Two New NJEP Curricula: Courts' Language Choices in Sexual Assault Cases
and Medical Forensic Sexual Assault Examinations

The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) has released two new curricula: Raped or "Seduced?" How Language Helps Shape Our Response to Sexual Violence and Medical Forensic Sexual Assault Examinations: What Are They and What Can They Tell the Courts? Both curricula are available on the web and can be used in judicial education programs, webinars, or reviewed by individuals online.

Click to read Legal Momentum's more detailed release on its "Raped or Seduced?" program here, and its Medical Forensic program here.


NAWJ Past President Judge Amy Nechtem and Justice Joan Irion, Chair of the NAWJ Judicial Elections Committee and creator of NAWJ's Informed Voters/Fair Judges project, were invited to attend the annual conference of the Bulgarian Judges Association Union of Judges (BJA) this past October. The membership of over 1000 men and women is representative of all levels of the judiciary and provides its members affiliation with the International and European Association of Judges which has been in existence for some twenty years.

Bulgarian Judge Ekaterina Nikolova, a member of the Board of the Union of Judges in Bulgaria, was among the international attendees at the NAWJ conference in Miami, 2012, and extended this exciting invitation to Judge Nechtem and Justice Irion to speak on issues of judicial independence, juvenile justice and NAWJ's association mission and strategic planning. The meetings were held in the ancient city of Plovdiv and in the stunning capital city of Sofia.

Our judges were able to impart timely information regarding initiatives taken in the United States to safeguard judicial independence, an area of pressing concern for the Bulgarian judiciary. Comparisons and insights were exchanged concerning the vast differences in the juvenile justice systems in our countries. The extraordinary member participation among NAWJ's thirty committees provided the BJA with framework to address its own equal access to justice challenges.

Judges Nechtem and Irion also attended a meeting on 'Judicial Reform Review', aimed at achieving the goal of sustaining an efficient, transparent, and accountable judiciary. The America for Bulgaria Foundation hosted the meeting, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Justice and the U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria were among the many participants.

"We were proud and privileged to represent NAWJ in Bulgaria and to support a global effort in securing a respected, independent judiciary worldwide. We extend our sincere appreciation to our gracious hosts."

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.

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

Past President Hon. Brenda Stith Loftin
Retiring at Year's End

After many years of service on the bench, the Hon. Brenda Stith Loftin will retire from the St. Louis County Circuit Court. She will continue to provide leadership to NAWJ, the level of which was recognized in her 2010 Justice Vaino Spencer Leadership Award honor. Judge Loftin created NAWJ's signature Color of Justice Program, which has advanced the NAWJ mission of enhancing diversity on our nation's bench and in our justice system. She also showed vision in moving forward with the creation of NAWJ's Long Range Strategic Plan; a living document recently revisited that incorporates NAWJ's vision for the future, core values and guiding principles. Judge Brenda Stith Loftin was appointed by Governor Mel Carnahan in March 1993 as a Circuit Judge in the St. Louis County Circuit Court. Her judicial experience includes assignments in the Family Court, the Civil and Criminal Division and the Jury Trial Division. Prior to being appointed judge, she served as Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney in St. Louis County from 1989 to 1993, as well as a solo practitioner representing clients in state and federal court with emphasis on civil and criminal litigation. Judge Loftin was President of NAWJ for its 2006-2007 year.

Judge Loftin is busy planning another presentation of Color of Justice for 50 young girls in St. Louis. The program is planned for early 2014.

Congratulations to Judge Betty Williams

On November 5, 2013, longtime NAWJ member and Women in Prison Co-Chair Judge Betty J. Williams was elected to the New York State Supreme Court and will assume her new position January 2014. Judge Williams currently presides in the Misdemeanor Brooklyn Treatment Court (MBTC) and Part 70 (felony), Kings County Criminal Court. MBTC and Part 70 follow the national drug court model, where long term substance abuse offenders are given the opportunity to receive treatment instead of incarceration. Judge Williams was re-elected to Kings County (Brooklyn) Civil Court in November 2010 (first elected in November 2000) and has been assigned to Kings County Criminal Court since January 1, 2001. She was appointed Acting Supreme Court Justice on March 31, 2009.

Judge Williams played an instrumental role in the opening of the Kings County Criminal Court Career and Education Center on September 25, 2009 and the Brooklyn Youth GED Program on March 1, 2010. The Center provides career educational services to all drug court participants. Judge Williams is also Chairperson Emeritus of NAWJ's New York Chapter Women in Prison Committee. Judge Williams has organized, facilitated, and participated in numerous prisoner workshops from 2001 to present which address topics including parole, non-traditional jobs for women, housing, and correctional facilities for women throughout New York State - Bayview, Taconic, Beacon, and Albion Correctional Facilities.

Congratulations to Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper

Judge Woods-Skipper, who currently sits on the Court of Common Pleas, First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, was recently elevated to its President Judge. She was appointed by the former Governor Tom Ridge and unanimously confirmed by the Pennsylvania State Senate in December 1998, and later re-elected to her second ten-year term. She was appointed Supervising Judge for the Criminal Division of the First Judicial District in November 2008, where she has been instrumental in creating and overseeing innovative programs in the Criminal Division that have reduced the prison population and increased efficiency in the processing of criminal cases. She currently presides over the newly created First Judicial District Mental Health Court. Judge Woods-Skipper was appointed by Governor Rendell to the State Council for Interstate Compact for Adult Offenders, and was also appointed by the late Justice Cappy, and re-appointed by Justice Castille, to the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing. She was also selected to serve on the Mental Health Advisory Commission (MHAC) of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency. Judge Woods-Skipper is a native Philadelphian who attended Philadelphia High School for Girls, the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University School of Law. Judge Woods-Skipper holds leadership roles in the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges and the American Judges Association and is a frequent speaker on criminal justice topics.

NAWJ 36th Annual Conference
Protecting and Advancing Meaningful Access to Justice
October 15-19, 2014 • San Diego, CA
The Westin Gaslamp Quarter

Keynote Speaker:
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Register online here, or download and fax this registration form.
Conference registration fees:
$595 for NAWJ Members ($550 before March 15)
$525 for Members who are First-Time Attendees
$695 for Non-Members Judges
$575 Guest Rate

Room Reservations: Click here or call (619) 239-2200.
NAWJ Rate: $219/night, plus applicable taxes, single or double occupancy

Hon. Tamila E. Ipema • Hon. Margie G. Woods

Click here to reach the conference webpage. Judges Tamila E. Ipema and Margie G. Woods of the San Diego County Superior Court will be your hosts as Conference Co-Chairs. Contact them at and For more information, please contact Mary Kathleen Todd in Washington, D.C. by phone (202) 393-0222 or email

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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