About Us

Who We Are

The Council of Appellate Staff Attorneys (CASA), housed under the ABA Judicial Division Appellate Judges Conference (AJC), is a nationwide network of state and federal appellate court attorneys, including central staff attorneys, in-chambers staff attorneys, career law clerks, and other lawyers employed by the appellate courts.

Since 1976, the Council of Appellate Staff Attorneys has been dedicated to addressing the unique needs of appellate court staff attorneys. 

Our Mission

CASA is devoted to the professional development of appellate court attorneys and the exchange of information about state and federal appellate courts and procedures. The Council sponsors and develops continuing legal education seminars and promotes the use and enhanced visibility of appellate court attorneys, and examines and fosters discussions on proposals for improvement of the appellate courts.

CASA is committed to ensuring the highest quality possible in all sponsored programs and publications, to extending services and opportunities for involvement to appellate court attorneys throughout the appellate court system and to enhancing quality and integrity of the appellate process.

Issues of Importance

  • Reducing appellate court delay;
  • Providing leadership on improving judicial salaries, retirement plans and working conditions;
  • Developing important ABA policies relating to judicial administration;
  • Remedying inadequate resources for appellate courts;
  • Improving public perception of the courts;
  • Enhancing judicial independence; and
  • Promoting Fair and Impartial Courts.

As the American population becomes more sophisticated and as public discourse becomes more critical, the courts and judicial system are being increasingly scrutinized. Membership in CASA is a way for you, as a vital member of the legal community, to ensure that your voice and concerns are heard and acted upon. Through the national voice that the ABA provides, CASA plays a leading role in defining, supporting and maintaining the efficiency and independence of the state and federal appellate judiciary.

CASA Bylaws

CASA is governed by its bylaws and includes the role of the executive board, committees, elections and much more. 

2020-2021 CASA Executive Board

William “Tray” Owen, Chair, Nashville, TN

Jess Mekeel, Chair-Elect, Denver, CO

Patricia Howard, Secretary, Columbia, SC

Elizabeth Ryan, Immediate Past Chair, Nashville, TN

Jessica Ballard-Barnett, Member-at-Large First Year, Indianapolis, IN

Charlene Koonce, Member-at-Large Second Year, Dallas, TX

Monica R. Owens, Member-at-Large First Year, Atlanta, GA

Christina Cooley Smith, Member-at-Large, First Year, Atlanta, GA

Rachel Zahniser, Member-at-Large Second Year, Ft. Mitchell, KY

Staff Contact

Amanad Banninga