NAWJ Monthly Update June 2013

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

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June 2013

(The June enewsletter that went out Friday inadvertently omitted photos of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Midyear reception. We are resending the President's report about the Midyear with those included.)

In This Issue:

The Midyear Conference

Click here to view photos.

"It doesn't get any better than this," - - was heard expressed in awe at our elegant Supreme Court reception while Chief Justice Roberts mingled with fellow members.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wearing her silver NAWJ Scales of Justice pin, then greeted us with a historical nod to the connection of the Supreme Court Building to the women's movement, given it was built on the site of what was formerly the location of the headquarters of the National Women's Party.

The reception followed a thoughtful discussion at the Court masterfully moderated by Professor Vicki Jackson of Harvard Law School, comparing judicial independence issues for judges on different types of special courts with those on general courts. Chief Judge Eric Washington of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, Judge Pauline Newman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Michael Ponsor, U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Massachusetts, Dana Marks, Immigration Judge and President of the National Association of Immigration Judges and Ann Breen-Greco, State Administrative Law Judge and Immediate Past Chair of the ABA Administrative Law Conference provided a panel from diverse types of benches. An earlier panel reviewed the latest Supreme Court immigration decisions, including one decided a few days earlier, to bring us up to date on that hot topic.

The Midyear Conference was a smashing success in every respect. We had record attendance, with our events at capacity. Superlative praise for the quality of our speakers and programs has spontaneously poured in. We covered a wide range of topics, including: the Violence Against Women Act, Tribal Court jurisdiction, Federal judicial appointments, judicial independence issues with a special focus on administrative and magistrate judges, historical discrimination against women's rights to inherit and pass benefits to others, immigration, and human trafficking. The conference was a financial success thanks firstly to the generosity of our wonderful Friends Committee -- co-chaired by Elaine Metlin of Dickstein Shapiro and Nicole Erb of White and Case --, Life Members who made special donations and Board members who contributed back their travel expenses, and secondly to the large number of you who registered to attend.

Our Midyear Conference began with our annual meeting on Capitol Hill in the House of Representatives with the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of District of Columbia our lead speaker, covered topics of mutual concern including the recent passage of the Violence Against Women Act, Federal judicial appointments, and lack of voting representation for residents of the District of Columbia. We were inspired and enthralled by ABA President Laurel Bellows, who gave the keynote, and by Interior Department Solicitor Hilary Tompkins who drew on her own experiences as a native American who chose to work for the Tribal justice system when she was a young lawyer. Former Maryland Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend put in a plug for the importance of our luncheon get together to further mutual understanding between members of the different branches of government. Senior Counsel Maggie Whitney from the Senate Judiciary Committee's majority staff shared the frustrations they face in trying to move nominations for judicial appointments.

A special feature was our joint program with the Shakespeare Theatre, which included a reading of the passage in Henry V which discusses Salic Law and its prohibition of women's rights of succession. This inspired us to consider the topic of barriers in modern times to women's rights to confer benefits on men, such as social security benefits for widowers and military housing benefits for husbands of female officers, which were considered in Supreme Court cases argued by Justice Ginsburg before she became a member of the Court. Well known attorney Abbe Lowell greeted us on behalf of the Bard Association of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. The law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski, L.L.P. (now Norton Rose Fulbright) again hosted us for an elegant reception at their office.

Our all day trafficking training program received such high acclaim that we have been invited to discuss ways we can:
  1. assist DHS [the Homeland Security Department] with its Blue Campaign to eradicate human trafficking, and
  2. partner further with the American Bar Association's Task Force on Human Trafficking.

In addition to our educational programs, tours, and receptions, there was of course a business side to the conference.

At the full Board meeting, Board Members exchanged their midyear reports. Committee chairs in town were all invited to present their reports, as well, and many attended to do so. Two votes of significance:
  • The Board voted a small increase in dues of $10/year effective June 1, 2013, with a second $10 increase to take effect January 1, 2015, coupled with an indefinite reduction in the rate of dues for first time members to $125, for the first year, to take effect immediately.
  • The Board voted to co-sponsor an ABA resolution to establish a network of U.S. judges regarding the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.
  • Members of the Resource Board conducted a meeting with members of our leadership. They adopted a Mission statement and left greatly energized to greater involvement.
  • The District Directors held a separate meeting.
  • The Committee Chairs held their first ever separate meeting. Committee Chairs Liaison Sandra Robinson led the meeting.
  • The Administrative Judiciary Committee met at the nearby offices of their chair Peg Mangan.
  • The conference Scholarship subcommittee found time to meet.
  • The Personnel committee met.
  • There was a no host get together of new judges at the hotel bar.
  • The Board of Directors of the IAWJ was meeting simultaneously. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley our International Director attended that meeting, as did some of our members who serve on the IAWJ Board of Managerial Trustees.

The IAWJ Board joined us for our Thursday and Friday evening receptions. Members of the Shakespeare Theatre Bard Association joined us for our Thursday evening program and reception. Total attendance topped 200 at the Supreme Court events, 170 at our Thursday events, and 100 at the all-day training session on Saturday. We concluded with a tea party break, to bring the discussions to a gradual close, as we look ahead to continuing the discussions through our Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Other Recent & Upcoming Events

1. Canadian Chapter 2013 Conference

Following the NAWJ Midyear, I traveled to Montreal to participate in the 2013 conference of the Canadian IAWJ Chapter, presented jointly by the Canadian National Judicial Institute. While networking with the our sister Canadian Chapter just to our North, I was able to spend some time with Justice Eusebeo Munuo, IAWJ President, who was attending as well.

Following an opening reception at the Quebec Court of Appeal, a handsome old building which has been beautifully remodeled, we met for 2 ½ days discussing best techniques for communicating effectively with vulnerable litigants and learning about problem solving courts that work. The theme was: Living at the Margins: Judging Fairly, Judging Responsively. Particularly striking and impressive was the session on problem court solving court techniques, presented by Judge Karen Ruddy by video from her court room in the Yukon Territory. A conversation on the closing day with Retired Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dube, Canada's second woman on the Canadian Supreme Court, was breathtakingly frank and inspirational.

2. Joint Program with ABA Task Force on Human Trafficking
NAWJ and the ABA Task Force on Human Trafficking held a joint seminar on May 21 in Chicago. Judge Ann Breen-Greco, District Director for District 8, organized the seminar in her capacity as NAWJ Liaison with the ABA Task Force on Human Trafficking. Over 70 attended.

3. 2013 Infinity Project in Iowa
The Infinity Project will be hosted in Iowa on June 20, 2013. NAWJ will again be co-sponsoring, and I plan to attend to represent NAWJ. With the confirmation last month of Judge Jane Kelley of Iowa to the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, this is a special year. The Infinity Project has sponsored a rotating CLE and Summit meeting each year since 2008 in one of the states that comprise the 8th Circuit, the goal being to highlight the lack of women on the 8th Circuit, ensure a pipeline of qualified women applicants, and to engage Senators and the President to encourage the appointment of women to the 8th Circuit. Until the confirmation of Judge Kelly in April, there had only been one woman ever on the 8th Circuit, and none for several years. A number of Judge Kelly's new colleagues on the 8th Circuit plan to be there.

4. Kickoff Reception for 2014 Annual Conference in San Diego
June 26 will find me in San Diego for a kick off for the 2014 Annual Conference. Conference Chairs Judges Tamila Ipema and Margie Woods have the conference planning well under way.


1. The Board voted to Co-Sponsor a resolution proposed by the ABA Section of International Law to the ABA House of Delegates to encourage the establishment of a network of U.S. judges to facilitate application of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.

2. The Executive Committee voted to co-sponsor the 2013 Infinity Project described above, to be conducted on June 20 in Des Moines, Iowa. NAWJ Amicus Member, Professor Sally Kenney of the Newcomb College Institute at Tulane University, will present an ethics program regarding the importance of diversity on the bench. The program was organized by NAWJ Member and U.S. Magistrate Judge Celeste Bremer.

Committee Activities

NAWJ Committees are active and busy.

The Awards Committee has prepared its announcement for the 2013 NAWJ Annual awards - see the announcement below - and has expanded its consideration to include nominations for some outside awards. The Committee is presently considering whether to make a nomination for the prestigious NCSC Rehnquist Award.

The Audit Committee is preparing its annual review of the tax return and audit.

The New Orleans and San Diego Conference committees are hard at work on the 2013 and 2014 conferences respectively. I plan to attend a kickoff event of the San Diego conference in late June. A conference committee for the NAWJ Annual Conference 2015 in Salt Lake City is starting to get organized, under the leadership of Judge Michele Christiansen.

The Informed Voter Project of our new Elections Committee has prepared a proposed message for voters adopting the theme "Informed Voters. Fair Judges." with a tag line of "Justice free from Special Interest." Many Thanks to Justices Joan Irion and Judith McConnell for taking the lead on this.

The Human Trafficking subcommittee has a meeting scheduled to get working on its next steps following our successful all day human trafficking training at the Midyear. Program planning is under way for two sessions as part of the 2013 Annual Conference and a site visit to the Eden Shelter in New Orleans.

The International Outreach Conference Scholarship Subcommittee is preparing criteria and an announcement on Kaufman, and possibly other scholarships, for the 2013 Annual Conference this fall. The scholarships will be available for a few financially needy international judges.

A working group of the 2016 Biennial Proposal Special Committee is studying next steps following the IAWJ Board's response to NAWJ's proposal submitted in February.

A subcommittee of the Executive Committee is undertaking a comprehensive review of NAWJ policies, which has not been done for many years. Thank You to Immediate Past President, Judge Amy Nechtem, for agreeing to take this on.

Vacancy in Rural Courts Committee Chair

We need a chair for the Rural Courts Committee. This Committee seeks to ensure that judges who sit in rural areas at all levels of the judiciary are fully included and reflected in all aspects of NAWJ membership, leadership, networking and other activities, that the unique needs and interests of rural judges and their courts are reflected in NAWJ's educational programming, regional conferences and other initiatives, and that proposed legislation and other issues having an impact on rural judges and courts are fully addressed, and appropriate action taken, by the Executive Committee and Board.

It is important that we have this committee covered. No prior experience is necessary. Committee Chairs Liaison Sandra Robinson would be happy to get you started. Please let me know if you would be willing to chair it.

Join the National Association of Women Lawyers for our 2013 Annual Meeting & Awards Luncheon

NAWJ Member Professor Judith Resnik Honored with Arabella Babb Mansfield Award

JULY 25, 2013
The Waldorf Astoria New York Hotel
301 Park Avenue
New York, New York

National Association of Women Judges Joins as a Co-Sponsor!

Join over 800 leading women lawyers from across the country at the National Association of Women Lawyers' 2013 Annual Meeting & Awards Luncheon held on July 25, 2013 at the historic Waldorf Astoria New York Hotel in New York, New York. NAWL will honor those who have made significant contributions to diversifying the legal profession as well as its members, who have devoted their time and efforts to NAWL. In addition, you will have the opportunity to participate in interesting and timely CLE programs along with networking events, including NAWL's Networking Night of Giving benefitting inMotion.

Click here for comprehensive Annual Meeting information.
Join the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession for Its 23rd Annual Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Awards Luncheon

Sunday, August 11, 2013

12:00 noon-2:00 p.m.
San Francisco, California
(During the ABA Annual Meeting)


Honorable Mazie K. Hirono, Senator, U.S. Congress, Honolulu, HI
Sara Holtz, Founder & CEO, ClientFocus, San Francisco, CA
Honorable Gladys Kessler, Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Washington, DC
Marygold Shire Melli, Voss-Bascom Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison, WI
Therese M. Stewart, Chief Deputy City Attorney, City and County of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Order tickets/tables - Individual tickets costs $125. Reserved tables seating 10 are available for $1,500. Table placement will be made on a first-come, first-served basis. To reserve a table, contact Beverly Tate at 312-988-5668 or email Download the invitation here.

NAWJ President-Elect Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby Honors NAWJ Past President Justice LaTia Martin

NAWJ Member Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam Honored as First African-American Woman Appointed to the New York State Court of Appeals

On Monday, June 3rd, the New York Chapter of NAWJ held its Annual Summer Dinner to honor NAWJ member Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, and Judge Jenny Rivera, for their appointments to the New York State Court of Appeals. Judge Abdus-Salaam is the first African-American woman to serve on the New York State Court of Appeals. NAWJ President-Elect Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby travelled from Washington, D.C. to recognize NAWJ Past President Justice La Tia Martin's ten years of service to NAWJ's Board of Directors. Now Bronx County Supreme Court Justice, she was NAWJ's 29th President. Also in attendance was NAWJ Vice President of Publications, Judge Tanya R. Kennedy, New York State Supreme Court.


The Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA) held its 29th Anniversary Awards Gala on Friday, May 10, 2013 at Gotham Hall in New York, NY. The theme of the Gala was "Celebrating Visionaries and Leadership." The Honorable Cheryl J. Gonzales, Housing Court Judge, New York County and the Honorable Alvin M. Yearwood, Acting Supreme Court Justice, Bronx County served as the Co-Chairs of the MBBA Gala Committee. (Pictured with her husband is this year's MBBA Jurist of the Year, Justice LaTia W. Martin, Supreme Court, Bronx County, and NAWJ Past President for 2008-2009.)
Click Your Heels- A Virtual March for Gender Equity

Chisa Putnam, longtime NAWJ member and Color of Justice Program presenter, is a member of the ABA Gender Equity Taskforce. She sends along the following announcement: The ABA Gender Equity Task Force needs NAWJ's participation and promotion of our virtual march for gender equity.

Participating is as simple as clicking your heels three times. Click on the link to the website. Click the vote button next to the red shoes and click the submit button. Then you have "Clicked" your heels for gender equity.

Why is this important and what is the point?

The visual of hundreds of thousands of people descending on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the sea of people coming together for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 has become an iconic representation of people standing in concert to effect change. While nothing can ever replace the historic transcendence of that day, in this new millennium a virtual voice carries the same power and ability to effect change as a physical presence.

Like in 1963, people of today still struggle with the ability to be treated equally in the work place. What is gender equity? It is equal pay for equal work. It is paternity leave without stigma. It is flexible time to meet personal and family needs, while still being able to participate and make a productive contribution to the work place. It is the recognition of the differences between men and women without diminishing the value and contribution each provide. In a word, it is "fairness."

Our march started on Equal Pay Day on April 9th and will continue to run through the ABA's Day of the Woman on August 10th 2013.
NAWJ Districts 3, 4 and its Maryland Chapter will join for a Beach Brunch on Sunday July 14, 2013 in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Contact District 3 Director Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper at for more information.

NAWJ 35th Annual Conference will take place October 9-13, 2013 at The Ritz Carlton in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The 2014 International Association of Women Judges Bi-Annual Conference will take place May 6-9, 2014 in 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.

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