A year as chair of the American Bar Association Judicial Division
As my year as Judicial Division (JD) chair is coming to a close I am reflecting on all the opportunities I have had to work on justice and the rule of law and particularly on my theme: Fostering Creative/Collaborative Leadership Globally to Ensure Fairness in Justice Systems. My theme has especially envisioned working with judges and administrative tribunals across the world with a focus on the United Nations’ declaration of the International Decade for People of African Descent – 2015-2024.
I attended the Central Panel Directors’ Conference (almost half the states in the U.S. have central panels of the administrative law judiciary in those states) in Des Moines, Iowa, and the Appellate Justice Institute in Long Beach. I attended the ABA Anti-Trust Judicial Law and Economics Institute for Judges, addressed the Association of Administrative Law Judges conference, met with the ABA Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline (Pipeline Council), with Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration representatives, and with the Regional Judicial Outreach Liaisons and ABA Judicial Fellows, when they met in Chicago.
In furtherance of my theme, in Vancouver at the ABA Midyear, we visited a community court and interacted with Canadian provincial and First Nation judges and members of the British Colombia Council of Administrative Tribunals. I met with judges from Tunisia and the country of Georgia, gave a presentation to Macedonia judges by teleconference on the rule of law and the functioning of our six conferences of the Judicial Division, which includes federal trial judges, appellate judges, state trial judges, specialized court judges, the administrative law judiciary and a lawyers conference.
A highlight of my year as Chair was in Washington, D.C., presenting judges and lawyers to be sworn into the bar of the US Supreme Court.
I also attended the Section of International Law’s (SIL) United Nations Day. This year the UN launched its Global Judicial Integrity Network, with Chief Justices, senior judges and judicial professionals from around the work. The network is a platform for judges to share good practices and lessons learned, to support each other, and to join forces in developing new tools and guidelines for strengthening integrity and preventing corruption in the judicial system. As such, it will also provide access to a large online database featuring thousands of resources, good practices, and other judicial documents for immediate reference. I have contacted one of the two U.S. delegates, a federal trial judge in Chicago, to find out how the JD can be involved in this important initiative.
In Dublin, Ireland, I met with a justice of the high court-criminal to discuss her work in extradition and being subjected to personal attacks on the basis of one of her decisions. I also had the opportunity to attend the SIL’s Africa Committee conference in Cape Town, South Africa, with a focus on the rule of law, which attracted participants from ten countries. While in Cape Town, I met with the Dean of the University of Cape Town Law School and also visited the magistrate court and spent time with the chief magistrate, visiting a number of courtrooms.
During my year as JD Chair I had the opportunity to discuss the work of WATL and to laud all that WATL is doing. I am privileged to have been re-appointed to the ISBA’s Women and the Law Committee and I look forward to supporting and continuing the work of WATL.