Written by National Association of Women Judges|February 05, 2024|Monthly Update Archive
I am writing to you from the American Bar Association Midyear Conference in Louisville, KY. Here, I have enjoyed talking to other legal leaders throughout the country and seeing our many members who are active in both organizations, especially since—quick reminder—NAWJ members get a $50 discount on ABA dues. But more importantly, with preparations for our own Midyear Conference coming together, I am happy to say registration is now open. Sign up today at nawj.org to join us in Austin, April 4–6!
For this conference, we are putting together several exciting educational sessions. This year, we received a $30,000 grant from the State Justice Institute for a program we are calling “Beyond the Basics: Domestic Violence and the Judiciary.” Through this program, we hope to increase awareness about and insight into the complexities of cases involving domestic violence in all parts of our justice system, including criminal, civil, family, and specialty courts. Because domestic violence is so common yet so misunderstood, we must educate all court personnel to ensure the safety of victims and of our community. Our first live training program will be held at the Midyear.
When I was sworn in as president, I also promised to focus on judicial security, a topic we will explore in two sessions at the Midyear. During our morning plenary session on Friday, April 5, my friend and colleague, Judge Julie Kocurek, will tell the story of the terrible attack she suffered in the driveway of her home on November 6, 2015. Her story was featured on CBS’s 48 Hours in a segment entitled “Live to Tell: The Vendetta.” In 2017, the Texas Legislature passed the Judge Julie Kocurek Judicial and Courthouse Security Act to bolster the protection of Texas judges. She will share with members her experience and how she has learned to keep judges safe. Following her presentation, we will hear from John Muffler, a former United States Marshall Service Chief Inspector and national expert on threat assessment, personal security, and the specific challenges of judicial security.
Finally, I am thrilled to announce that we are collaborating with Equality Texas, a statewide organization promoting LGBTQIA+ equality, to develop a session about the issues faced by transgender individuals in Texas and throughout the U.S. Specifically, the session will incorporate materials from Equality Texas’s TransVisible Project, which describes itself as “a public education campaign to reduce prejudice against transgender Texans by effectively communicating their powerful stories.” Transgender people face heightened discrimination, leading to challenges including disproportionately high levels of poverty, unemployment, inadequate medical care, incarceration, and violence. Better education and accurate information about the transgender community can help us judges make informed decisions that affect the lives, health, and well-being of transgender people. NAWJ board member Judge Victoria Kolakowski will be working with Equality Texas to design this program.
This is just a sampling of what we have in store. NAWJ strives to provide effective, innovative judicial education that supports our mission of ensuring equal access to justice. Our Midyear Conference will be no exception. I’m excited to see y’all in Austin.
President, National Association of Women Judges