NAWJ Monthly Update September 2016

Written by National Association of Women Judges|September 09, 2016|Monthly Update Archive

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September 2016

In This Issue:

National Association of Women Judges
The Honorable Lisa Walsh
NAWJ President

President's Message September 2016

Greetings from NAWJ.

The 2016 NAWJ Annual Conference and Meeting in verdant Seattle is just a month away. Each year we have the opportunity to visit a different part of our country and visit with judges who share our experiences, but approach their jobs perhaps in a different or creative way. Washington's judges are special. They have always been the innovators of our country. They have sought creative and courageous ways of responding to the challenges and issues that affect the justice system and the people we serve. Over the last two years, NAWJ has been honored to work with the judges and justices in Washington, and the resulting program reflects a host of new issues and approaches to the acute issues of today. The resulting programs, speakers, and activities are truly unparalleled. This conference includes one of the most inspiring and cutting-edge programs we have ever produced. If you have not yet registered, I sincerely encourage you to do so now. To register, please click here. Moreover, AlaskaAir is offering conference attendees a 7% discount on travel to, and return from, Seattle. The discount is valid for travel between Oct 2 and Oct 12, 2016. Travelers may book online at and use the code: ECMX122.

Highlights of our upcoming conference also include the opportunity to recognize the exceptional persons among us who have demonstrated leadership, support of women and minorities in the legal profession, and commitment to the mission of NAWJ. I will have the honor at our Gala dinner of presenting awards to the following outstanding women who enhance the membership and goals of NAWJ. Please be sure to read on for full biographies of these inspirational women.

The Justice Joan Dempsey Klein award will be presented to Judge Judith Chirlin (ret.), who has tirelessly worked for the betterment of NAWJ by increasing our international judge presence to the robust and incredible program it is today. At each conference, NAWJ welcomes many women from around the world to convene with us, to develop solutions to problems in their countries, and to develop relationships with us. Our experience is, in turn, enhanced by the relationships we develop, the conversations we have with these incredible women and the exchanges on matters of common interest. Our ability to so successfully host the IAWJ Biennial Conference this past year stems in great part to the work that Judge Chirlin has done over the past many years.

The Justice Vaino Spencer Award will be presented this year to Judge Karen Donohue. Judge Donohue joined NAWJ and immediately immersed herself in critical leadership roles. She served as State Chair for Washington State. She served on the ad hoc committee for Website development, and this year, was appointed project manager for the NAWJ website which was launched in the New Year. She served as education chair for the Seattle Conference, in which she led a committee that has set a cutting-edge lineup. In Washington, she has been involved in the Women in Prison Committee, helped select and celebrate law school scholarship recipients, and organized several social, meet and greet membership drives in Seattle area. She certainly deserves recognition for outstanding leadership in promoting the vision, core values and mission of NAWJ.

The Florence K. Murray Award will be presented to Ms. Elizabeth Hernandez and her firm, Akerman LLP. This award was instituted by its namesake, the Honorable Florence K. Murray, for presentation to a non-judge who, by example or otherwise, has influenced women to pursue legal careers, opened doors for women attorneys, or advanced opportunities for women within the legal profession. Since she co-chaired the Friends Committee for the Miami NAWJ Conference in 2012, Liz Hernandez has personified the attributes celebrated by the Florence K. Murray Award. She mentors and champions women in and out of her firm, has taken a seat on the NAWJ Resource Board, has supported the efforts of the Informed Voters Project since its inception and supported efforts to increase diversity on the bench in her native Miami.

The Mattie Belle Davis Award will be presented this year to a troika of members who have certainly gone above and beyond service in pursuit of the mission of NAWJ. Judge Cheryl Gonzales, Judge Betty Williams and Judge Brenda Murray have devoted their professional lives to improving the lives of women who are serving sentences in prison. Through efforts in both the state and federal detention systems, making connections at the highest policy-driven levels as well as developing and implementing programs carried out by NAWJ members, they are ever-vigilant in their mission to ensure that women serving prison sentences return to their communities better connected to their families and children and with the tools necessary to overcome problems stemming from trauma and addiction. They truly deserve our praise and our appreciation.

Also, of significance at this annual meeting will be the discussion at the business meeting on the morning of October 10th of proposed amendments to NAWJ Bylaws Article VI on the positions of District Director and State Chair, distributed in last month's newsletter, which you may view again below. Finally, the Resolutions Committee will be presenting a resolution directed at trial judges taking diversity into account when making appointments of lawyers. This resolution, also contained below, has been adopted by many national justice organizations, including the Conference of Chief Justices, the American Association for Justice, the Defense Research Institute, the Hispanic National Bar Association and others.

It has been truly the most exciting, inspiring, exceptional year of my professional life. Along with all of you, I look forward to the coming year, led by the brilliant and thoughtful Judge Diana Becton and our exceptional slate of officers who will take office on October 10, 2016. See you at the kickoff in Seattle October 6, 2016. Have a wonderful September.

Sincerely yours,

Lisa Walsh
President, NAWJ
11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade, Florida

September 7-8, 2016 - San Antonio, Texas State Judiciary Conference

October 5-9, 2016 - Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington

Faces of Justice
NAWJ 38th Annual Conference
October 5-9, 2016
The Sheraton Seattle Hotel • 1400 6th Ave. • Seattle, WA

Visit our webpage for more information. Click here.

Signup with Barbara Hutchinson at


8:20AM - 3:00PM
Ferry to Suquamish Tribal Museum, Tribal Court and Beach Glass Café lunch at Tribal Casino
Travel by Washington State Ferry across Puget Sound to beautiful gift shop and exquisite museum reflecting tribal history and culture; Court and jurisdictional discussion with NAWJ member Chief Suquamish Judge Cindy Smith. Prepayment of $35 required includes ferry, shuttle bus, & museum admission (lunch separate at Tribal Clearwater Casino overlooking Puget Sound, approx. $15). and Deadline to register is September 28, 2016.
Contact Sue Koptieff at for more information, or to sign-up.

Consignment & Boutique Shopping
Includes lunch aboard limo bus and stops at boutiques and upscale consignment shops who have included special offerings. Sign up here! Deadline to register is September 15, 2016.

Tour of Seattle Municipal Court
Art, architecture, probation and social services, and the latest technology and security design. Tour will include appetizers and refreshments. No fee to attend this tour. Deadline to register is September 28, 2016. Contact Sue Koptieff at for more information, or to sign-up.


12:15-4:00 PM
All tours on Saturday will depart and return during the afternoon free time (approximately 12:15-4:00PM), allowing enough time to get ready for the Gala.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitors Center
The Center is located in the Seattle Center. NAWJ has booked a tour for a small group. Deadline to register is September 28, 2016. Contact Sue Koptieff at for more information, or to sign-up.

Chihuly Garden and Glass
Visit the museum in the Seattle Center dedicated to the art and glass of Dale Chihuly. Deadline to register is September 28, 2016. Contact Sue Koptieff at for more information, or to sign-up.

Winery tour
Wind down with a few hours at some great Washington wineries near Seattle. Shuttle/bus and guides provided by Butler Tours. Fee is $144. Click here to sign up and for more information. Deadline to register is September 28, 2016. Contact Sue Koptieff at for more information.

$525 for Members who are First-Time Attendees
$595 for NAWJ Members
$695 for Non-Member Attendees
$575 for Spouse and Children of Attendees

Register online here, or download and fax this registration form.

The conference host hotel is the Sheraton Seattle Hotel. Call (888) 627-7057 • NAWJ Rate: $229/night,
plus applicable taxes, single or double occupancy.

For More Information Contact:
Meeting Planner: Barbara Hutchison at

2016 Justice Joan Dempsey Klein
Honoree of the Year
Honorable Judith C. Chirlin

The NAWJ Award Committee announces the Honorable Judith C. Chirlin the 2016 Justice Joan Dempsey Klein Honoree of the Year. She is the Executive Director of the Western Justice Center and a part-time neutral with Judicate West. She was appointed Judge to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1985, and retired September 30, 2009. Click here for her bio.

NAWJ Announces Recipient of the
2016 Florence K. Murray Award
Elizabeth M. Hernandez, Esq. and Akerman LLC

The NAWJ Awards Committee announces this year's recipient of the Florence K. Murray Award to Elizabeth M. Hernandez, Esq. and Akerman LLC. Click here for Elizabeth M. Hernandez's bio. Click here to learn more about Akerman LLC.

NAWJ Honors Advocates for Women in Prison
2016 Mattie Belle Davis Awardees
Honorable Cheryl J. Gonzales, Honorable Brenda Murray, Honorable Betty J. Williams

One of the year's recipients of the Mattie Belle Davis Award is the Honorable Cheryl Gonzales (photo far left), the Housing Court's Supervising Judge for the Civil Court of the City of New York, Kings County. Judge Gonzales is currently District Two's Director, but she has long served as a key force in the New York Women in Prison Committee, organizing programs in many of New York's major detention center for women.

The second honoree of this year's Mattie Belle Davis Award is NAWJ Past President Administrative Law Judge Brenda Murray (middle photo). Ever since Judge Murray and other judges pressed the Senate Judiciary Committee for gender-specific policies for incarcerated women back in 1995, she has put forth a strong voice in offense to their neglect. Most recently, Judge Murray maintained this commitment in advocacy for the federal inmates transplanted from Danbury to Brooklyn (see last month's Update for their report on a recent visit to The Metropolitan Detention Center.)

Justice Betty J. Williams is this year's third honoree of the 2016 Mattie Belle Davis Award, was elected November 2013, to New York State Supreme Court, Kings County, having been appointed an Acting Supreme Court Justice March 31, 2009. Click here to read Justice William's bio.

2016 Justice Vaino Spencer Award Recognizes
Honorable Karen Donohue

The Honorable Karen Matson Donohue is this year's recipient of the Justice Vaino Spencer Award. She is a Judge on the Seattle Municipal Court, and she has been an active member of NAWJ since 2011. Many of you are aware of Judge Donohue's multi-year work planning education programs for this year's NAWJ annual conference in Seattle. But Judge Donohue had also been volunteering significant time to NAWJ as Project Manager of its new website. NAWJ's site would not appear has elegant as it does without the well-organized coordination and management of multiple parties.

American Constitution Society Announces
Gavel Gap - A Report of the Demographics of State Courts

From ACS:

We need to know more about state judges. In order to address this serious shortcoming in our understanding of America's courts, we have constructed an unprecedented database of state judicial biographies. Our dataset - the State Bench Database-includes more than 10,000 current sitting judges on state courts of general jurisdiction. Although state judges are public servants, little is known about them. Unlike their counterparts on the federal courts, much of the information is non-public, and in many instances, not even collected in a systematic way.

Using the State Bench Database, we examine the gender, racial, and ethnic composition of state courts. We then compare the composition of state courts to the composition of the general population in each state. We find that courts are not representative of the people whom they serve-that is, a gap exists between the bench and the citizens. We call this gap the Gavel Gap.

This study's principal findings are: Women have entered law schools and the legal profession in large numbers for the last forty years, but are underrepresented on state courts. Women comprise roughly one-half of the U.S. population and one-half of American law students. But, less than one-third of state judges are women. In some states, women are underrepresented on the bench by a ratio of one woman on the bench for every four women in the state. Not a single state has as many women judges as it does men.

Click here to read ACS's report, or visit their new website here.

Prioritizing School Safety: A New Curriculum for Colleges
and Universities to Address Sexual Assault
by Carrie Bettinger-Lopez
White House Advisor on Violence Against Women

On June 22, NAWJ held a meeting on Capitol Hill to raise awareness of sexual assault in the military and on college campuses. One of the meeting attendees, Carrie Bettinger-Lopez, recently issued news of new curriculum for college campuses.

Established by the President in 2014, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault Task Force produced Not Alone, a report on federal activities and resources to address campus sexual assault. In addition to these resources, the task force developed a student mobilization campaign. In September 2014, President Obama and Vice President Biden unveiled It's On Us, a campaign to engage all college students, and especially young men and bystanders, in preventing sexual assault. Over the past two years, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and its component federal agencies have produced guidance, model policies and procedures, training and technical assistance resources, funding opportunities, and public messaging materials concerning sexual assault in educational spaces. Many of these resources can be found in its 2015 Resource Guide.

For more details on these tools, and to read Ms. Bettinger-Lopez's full news release, click here.

(Caption: L-R: Judge Theresa Igoche (High Court of Benue State, Makurdi); Judge Ijeoma Ojukwu (Federal High Court);
Judge Karen Romano; Judge Binta Nyako (Federal High Court and Vice-President of IAWJ);
and Judge Patricia Mahmoud (Kano State High Court)

Judicial Independence and Human Right in the U.S.
Judge Karen Romano Hosts Judges and Academics from Nigeria
as part of the U.S. State Department's Visitor Leadership Program

District Nine member Judge Karen Romano met with a group of ten judges and law professors from Nigeria on August 11, 2016. The group visited Washington, D.C. before arriving in Des Moines, Iowa, and also stopped in Atlanta, GA. The international visitors were participating in the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program. The title of the groups visit was Judicial Independence and Human Right in the U.S. The group visited the Polk County Courthouse and met with Judge Romano, District Court Administrator Christopher Patterson and Clerk of Court Supervisor Cindy Johnson. The four women judges in the group are members of the IAWJ and the Nigerian Association of Women Judges. The group included Judge Binta Nyako the current Vice-President of IAWJ.

"Freedom through Words Book Club"
The Brainchild of San Diego Commissioner Pennie McLaughlin
Garners Recognition with Plaque in Jail Library

The local women's jail in San Diego would like to mount a plaque recognizing the work of the NAWJ in their new jail library. The San Diego judicial community has led active book club with the women for a year, and they have collected over 1,000 books to stock the shelves of the women's jail. The women inmates are quite grateful, and asked that NAWJ be recognized on their library wall for its contributions.

NAWJ Announces 2016-2017
Board of Directors Nomination Slate

The nominated slate is an ensemble of seasoned, experienced and dedicated NAWJ members from diverse regions and backgrounds. It will be another great year of board leadership!

In accordance with the NAWJ Bylaws, the Nominating Committee presents the following:

Hon. Diana Becton, Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County
(automatically assumes office)

Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy
New York State Supreme Court, New York County

Vice President, Districts
Hon. Marilyn G. Paja
Kitsap County District Court, Washington

Vice President, Publications
Hon. Jane Spencer Craney
Morgan Superior Court 3, Indiana

Hon. Tamila Ipema
Superior Court of California, San Diego County

Hon. Kathy J. King
Supreme Court, Kings County, New York

Judge Julie E. Frantz, Multnomah County Circuit, Chair
Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Judge Bernice Donald, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Justice Nan Duffly, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Senior Justice Dana Fabe, Alaska Supreme Court
Judge Jennifer Gee, U.S. Department of Labor
Judge Marcella Holland, Circuit Court for Baltimore City (Retired)
Judge Gladys Kessler, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Judge Brenda Loftin, St. Louis County Circuit Court (Retired)
Justice Judith McConnell, California Court of Appeal
Chief Justice Amy Nechtem, Massachusetts Juvenile Court
Judge Vanessa Ruiz, District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Justice Bea Ann Smith, Texas Court of Appeals (Retired)

Proposed NAWJ Bylaws Amendments

At this year's annual business meeting on October 8, 2016 during the annual conference, the Bylaws Committee will offer the following amendments found below. (You may view the changes as they appear in the current bylaws here.)


Section 6.

Insert as the first paragraph under this section (6):

It is the responsibility of each District Director upon assuming the position of District Director to review the duties of the position contained in the NAWJ Board of Directors Manual, and to particularly note the commitment to (1) participate in the monthly conferences calls, (2) attend the Midyear and Annual Board of Directors Meetings, and (3) to participate by a mode of communication which enables simultaneous audio exchanges if an irreconcilable conflict or emergency prevents in person attendance at a Midyear or Annual Board Meeting.

To assist the Directors in fulfilling their responsibilities throughout their respective districts, and to establish and maintain close communication within the District as to the issues being addressed by the NAWJ organization, District Directors may annually select a NAWJ member in each state within their District to serve as a State Chair. District Directors shall assign specific tasks to the State Chairs, and shall be advised of and authorize NAWJ activities and events undertaken by the State Chairs. State Chairs shall not assume the voting rights of the District Director.

AMEND the existing paragraph under Section 6 to read:

A District Director who is unable to attend a Midyear or Annual Board of Directors meeting for which a quorum is required due to an irreconcilable conflict or emergency situation, and further is unable to participate by a mode of communication which enables simultaneous audio exchanges in a Board of Directors meeting, has the authority to designate in writing a member of the district or a current Board member as a proxy. The document bearing the name of the proxy shall be transmitted to the President prior to the commencement of the meeting (or prior to the substitution of the proxy during a meeting.) If the proxy is a current Board member, the proxy shall assume all voting rights of the District Director for the duration of the meeting. If the proxy is not a current Board member, the proxy shall be encouraged to attend and participate in the discussions, but shall not assume the District Director's voting rights.

NAWJ Leads Affiliate Organizations with Resolution to
Diversify Trial Court Appoints

The NAWJ Executive and Resolutions Committees has approved the following resolution, which shall be presented for a vote at the Annual Business Meeting on October 8, 2016 in Seattle. In the wake of the Board drafting and approving this language, the following national voluntary bar and judicial organizations have approved our resolution within their respective organizations: The American Association for Justice, The Defense Research Institute, The Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Conference of Chief Justices. The following organizations are considering this resolution within their organizations: The National Bar Association, The American Board of Trial Advocates, and the American Bar Association, Judicial Division.


Whereas, in exercising discretionary judicial authority to appoint lawyers to various positions (e.g., lead counsel for plaintiff classes; special masters; receivers; trustees; hearing officers; referees; mediators and arbitrators; guardians; and counsel for indigent defendants), trial courts have not appointed women lawyers, minority lawyers and lawyers in small law firms to such positions in numbers commensurate with their representation in the legal profession;

Whereas, there are ample numbers of such diverse lawyers who are experienced and highly qualified for appointments by trial courts;

Whereas, the justice system as a whole has become increasingly diverse, including diverse judges, juries and litigants;

Whereas, research establishes that diversity enhances creativity and innovation, and leads to better decision-making and problem solving;

Whereas, a fundamental underlying goal of the justice system is to provide equal treatment and opportunity for everyone; and

Whereas, litigants and the justice system as a whole benefit from greater diversity in trial court appointments;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that, in exercising their appointment powers, our trial courts, both federal and state, should be mindful of the importance of diversity and should make appointments that are consistent with the diversity of our society and the justice system.

Sail with NAWJ from Boston to Montreal
on Holland America's ms Maasdam
May 20-27, 2017

2017 New England Cruise Schedule
Saturday - 20 May 2017
Depart 4:00 pm Boston, Massachusetts

Sunday - 21 May 2017
Arrive 7:00 am Bar Harbor, Maine - Depart 3:00 pm

Monday - 22 May 2017
Arrive 9:00 am Halifax, Nova Scotia - Depart 6:00 pm

Tuesday - 23 May 2017
Arrive 11:00 am Sydney, Nova Scotia - Depart 6:00 pm

Wednesday - 24 May 2017
Arrive 11:00 am Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island - Depart 6:00 pm

Thursday - 25 May 2017
Cruising the Gulf of Saint Lawrence

Friday - 26 May 2017
Arrive 7:00 am Quebec - Depart 6:00 pm
Cruising the Saint Lawrence River

Saturday - 27 May 2017
Arrive 7:00 am Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Interior Stateroom $759
Ocean-View Stateroom $959
Vista Suite $2,199

Taxes, fees and port expenses are an additional $210 and subject to change. *Assuming double occupancy. Single occupancy 200% of cruise fares.

Download and complete this cruise cabin reservation form and mail, fax or email to:
Nancy Curtis, 2334 Vista Valley Lane, Vista, California 92084. Fax: 760-295-7733

NAWJ registration fee includes an education session, reception after disembarking in Montreal with Canadian members of IAWJ, and a cruise memento.

After December $150 NAWJ/IAWJ Members/Guests

Complete and fax/ mail/email this registration form to:
National Association of Women Judges
1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1138
Washington, D.C. 20036.
Fax: (202) 393-0125.

Registration must be received by NAWJ no later than your final payment to the cruise line.

For more details, or to inquire about roommate matching, contact cruise coordinator Nancy Curtis at

Landmark Sponsor GEICO

Part of NAWJ and GEICO's partnership provides insurance discounts to NAWJ members. Contact GEICO for a free quote on auto insurance to see how much you could be saving. And, don't forget to mention your NAWJ affiliation; you could qualify for an exclusive member savings opportunity. Visit (special portal here) or call 1-800-368-2734 for your free rate quote. GEICO can also help you find great rates on homeowners, renters, motorcycle insurance, and more.

Calendar of Programs and Events
Texas State Judiciary Conference hosts a reception for NAWJ at the JW Marriott on September 7th at 6:00 pm. Contact Judge Rebeca Martinez at

Constitution Day celebration in Miami at the North Dade Justice Courthouse on September 9th at 12:00 pm featuring remarks by Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley, Southern District of Florida.

Judging Statutes: Interpreting Congress' Laws Under the Constitution, a conversation with Judge Robert Katzmann, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Professor Emily Gold Waldman, Pace University School of Law. Sponsored by ConSource in recognition of its Seventh Annual Constitution Day celebration on September 15 at the New York Historical Society (170 Central Park West, NYC). RSVP to

MentorJet at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School on September 27. Contact District Director Judge Michelle Rick for more information:

NAWJ 37th Annual Conference will take place in Seattle, Washington from October 5-9, 2016 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel.

MentorJet at the University of Michigan Law School on October 6. Contact District Director Judge Michelle Rick to volunteer:

Faces of Justice, a first event in Michigan for approximately 60 social studies students from Lansing schools to instill in young people a vision where they see themselves as the 'faces of justice'. NAWJ will partner with the State Bar of Michigan, Diversity and Inclusion, and Equal Access Initiative Location: Hall of Justice in Lansing, Michigan. Contact District Director Judge Michelle Rick to volunteer and for more information:

Happy Hour for the Balance of Power. Guest speakers: Judge Kevin Emas, Florida Court of Appeal, Third District; Justice Barbara Pariente, Florida Supreme Court; and Judge Sarah Zabel, Florida's 11th Judicial Circuit. October 25, 6:00-8:30 pm at Novecento, Miami, Florida. Free for judges. RSVP to Victoria Pajaujis at

National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges host Breakfast MeetUp with NAWJ to share the benefits of NAWJ membership with the larger Bankruptcy Judicial Coros on October 27 at 7:30 am at the Cavalier Restaurant in Hotel Zetta in San Francisco. RSVP to or (612) 664-5280.

MentorJet at the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School on November 3 at the Lansing campus. Contact District Director Judge Michelle Rick to volunteer:

MentorJet at the Michigan State University Law School on November 15. Contact District Director Judge Michelle Rick to volunteer:

NAWJ 38th Annual Conference will take place in Atlanta, Georgia from October 11-15, 2017 at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel.

NAWJ 39th Annual Conference will take place in San Antonio, Texas from October 3-7, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk.

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