July 01, 2014

The Founding of the Appellate Judges Conference and the Appellate Judges Education Institute

By Justice Frank Sullivan Jr.

The inaugural meeting of the Appellate Judges Conference (AJC) took place in New York on August 9, 1964. This formality was the culmination of more than two years of planning and hard work by a dedicated group of judges and ABA employees under the auspices of the ABA Section of Judicial Administration (Section), the predecessor of today’s Judicial Division.

The idea for creating the AJC can be credited to two separate sources. The first in time was contained in a May 10, 1962, letter from Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice E. Harold Hallows to the Section in which he recommended forming an association for associate justices of state courts of last resort. Several months later and independent of Justice Hallows’s proposal, New Jersey Superior Court-Appellate Division Judges Edward Gaulkin and Gerald T. Foley recommended to Sylvester C. Smith Jr., of their state, the president-elect of the ABA, establishing an organization for judges of intermediate appellate courts. Both of these proposals were grounded in the fact that there was no formal bar entity that provided a home for or supported the work of appellate judges who were not eligible for membership in either the Conference of Chief Justices or the National Conference of State Trial Judges.

On the impetus of Hallows’s proposal, the Section Council at its August 1962 meeting had appointed a study committee chaired by Chief Justice William M. McAllister. When Smith forwarded Gaulkin and Foley’s proposal to the Section as well, the mandate of the McAllister committee became to study the idea of forming an organization for both associate justices of state courts of last resort and judges of intermediate appellate courts.

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