NAWJ Monthly Update June 2020

Written by National Association of Women Judges|June 08, 2020|Monthly Update Archive

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Monthly Update

June 1, 2020
Volume 18, Issue 5


During these uncertain times, NAWJ is working to connect with our members and provide meaningful programming online until we can gather safely together again.  We ask you to consider making a special contribution to support NAWJ so that we can continue offering webinars and podcasts focusing on the impact of the pandemic on our courts.  A percentage of each contribution will go to support the work of the International Association of Women Judges. Any support is greatly appreciated and a giant thank you to all of you who have already generously donated. Please submit your donation before June 5, 2020.
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The NAWJ Awards Committee requests nominations for this year’s Honorable Joan Dempsey Klein Honoree of the Year Award and Florence K. Murray Award. Awards will be presented during NAWJ's Annual Conference, October 12-15 in Nashville, Tennessee. To submit a nominee for one or both of these awards, please complete our nomination form here.  Nominations should be submitted no later than JULY 24, 2020. To learn more about these award, click here
Hon. Cindy Davis and Hon. Ariane Vuono are the co-chairs for the Awards Committee.  If you have any questions on the awards or the nomination process, please contact Janelle Mihoc, Member Coordinator at


If you have an interest in, or expertise with, Artificial Intelligence issues, let us know!  Please contact Hon. Karen Donohue at
Hon. Deborah Israel, Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Charlene Larche-Mason, New Orleans City Attorney's Office, New Orleans, LA
Hon. Karen Ortiz, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, New York, NY
Hon. Tiffany Palmer, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia, PA
Hon. Tracy Perzel, First Judicial District Court of Minnesota, Hastings, MN
Hon. Catherine Pratt, Los Angeles Superior Court, Compton, CA
Hon. Susan Ufberg, Jus
tice of the Peace Court, New Castle, DE
Hon. Mindy Walker, Jefferson County District Court, Port Townsend, WA
Hon. LaShawn Williams, Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 3, Houston, TX


This section is to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of those in our NAWJ community, as well as keep 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 that we can include in upcoming NAWJ communications. 

NAWJ Past President, The Honorable Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, Honored with the ABA's Prestigious Margaret Brent Award - On May 1, 2020 the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession reported NAWJ Past President and Chief Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the Honorable Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, is among this year’s Margaret Brent Award honorees. Click for more details. 

The Honorable Nancy Gertner and The Honorable M. Margaret McKeown Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences - Longtime NAWJ members and federal Judges Nancy Gertner (Retired) and M. Margaret McKeown were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on April 23, 2020. The Academy is committed to interdisciplinary, nonpartisan research that provides pragmatic solutions for complex challenges. Click for more details. 

NAWJ President, the Honorable Bernadette D’Souza, Appoints NAWJ Members to the Advisory Council of the National Association for Court Management’s “Courts in the Era of #WeToo” Education Initiative - “Courts in the Era of #WeToo” will highlight the need for court education and resources to address the need to address sexual harassment, transgender, and LGBTQ issues in the nation’s courts. The National Association for Court Management’s partners include  National Association of Women Judges and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Appointees include Hon. Marcella Holland, Senior Judge, Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland; Hon. Anita Josey-Herring, Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia; Hon. Sheva Simms, Judge, Shreveport City Court, Louisiana; Hon. Elizabeth Allen White, Judge, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles; Hon. Pam Washington, Judge, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Alaska. Click here to more details. 

NAWJ President, the Honorable Bernadette D’Souza, Appoints the Honorable Lisette Shirdan-Harris NAWJ Domestic Violence Liaison to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges - The Honorable Lisette Shirdan-Harris has been appointed by NAWJ President, Hon. Bernadette D’Souza NAWJ, Domestic Violence Liaison to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Click here for more details. 

Women in Prison News: Maryland's Second Chance for Women Sounds Off on Distress for the Women Inside - Women in Prison Committee Co-Chair, ALJ Brenda Murray, serves on the Advisory Board of Second Chance for Women, an organization dedicated to preparing inmates for successful parole board hearings. Second Chance operates in the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCIW) and was founded in 2009 by Mary Joel Davis. The group recently created its first newsletter which includes a letter from Executive Director Mary Joel Davis describing the horrific conditions in which the women in prison live due to the Governor’s ‘stay-at-home’ order. Click to read more about the distressing conditions. 

Judicial Independence Collaborative Workgroup - NAWJ, the California Judges Association, and the American Judges Association announce the completion of a collaborative resource guide for judicial independence. The Resource Guide is available on the CJA Website or click here
The Honorable Mary Hotard Becnel began her legal career as an official court reporter.  She worked for Judge C. William Bradley, her mentor, who began his judicial career by hearing war crimes cases in Austria following World War II.  After attending the University of New Orleans night school and graduating from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, Mary practiced law with her husband who wholeheartedly supported her career and encouraged her to run for a judgeship.  She was elected to the Louisiana’s 40th Judicial District Court in 1993, a general trial bench, and retired in 2017. Read more about Judge Becnel's experience and her leadership with NAWJ. 


Courts on the Frontline: Providing Access to Justice While Protecting Public Health During a Pandemic - On May 13, 2020, using the increasingly popular Zoom platform, NAWJ presented its first webinar, Courts on the Frontline: Providing Access to Justice While Protecting Public Health During a Pandemic. The panel, moderated by NAWJ Past President Hon. Lisa S. Walsh (11th Judicial Circuit of Florida), included Hon. Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby (District of Columbia Court of Appeals), Hon. Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye (State of California), Hon. Chief Justice Susan Christensen (Iowa Supreme Court) and Hon. Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack (Michigan Supreme Court). Click here for more details and link to webinar recording. 

Courtroom Tools for Addressing Human Trafficking, Domestic and Sexual Violence, and Child Exploitation in the Time of COVID-19 Moderated by Arizona Hon. Elizabeth R. Finn (Glendale City Court), a panel including Hon. Pamila Brown (District Court of Maryland, Howard County); Hon. Virginia M. Kendall (United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois); District Attorney Summer Stephan (San Diego County, California), and Christi Wigle, CEO of United Against Slavery. Click here for more details and link to webinar recording. 

Unsheltered at Home: COVID-19, Guns and Domestic Violence - On May 20, 2020 in partnership with the ABA Standing Committee on Gun Violence, NAWJ presented an informative webinar of best practices on how courts and advocates can focus on victim safety, gun violence, access to courtsa and other issues relating to domestic violence and coronavirus. Panelists included, President Judy Perry Martinez, American Bar Association; Hon. Bernadette D'Souza, Family Court Judge, Parish of New Orleans and President, National Association of Women Judges; Paige Flink, CEO, The Family Place; Carolyn Thomas, Domestic Violence and Gun Violence Survivor; Moderator: Angela Adkins Downes, Law Professor, UNT Dallas College of Law. Click here for more details. 


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.

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