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October 08, 2021 Appellate Judges Conference

AJC Chair's Column

By Hon. Samuel A. Thumma, Phoenix, AZ

I am delighted to chair the Appellate Judges Conference (AJC) for 2021-2022. Outgoing Chair Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steve David did amazing things under impossible circumstances this past year. So, it was an honor to virtually recognize his outstanding leadership and service with a crystal Diamond Heroic Award. Along with frequently bending Steve’s ear this year, I am delighted to serve with Judicial Division Chair Chris Browning, who is off to a fast start, as well as the other Conference chairs. I am also honored to work with Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, who will serve as AJC chair for 2022-23. 

Hoping this Delta variant gets resolved soon, planning is well under way for the 2021 Appellate Judges Education Institute (AJEI) Summit, scheduled to be held in Austin, Texas, November 11-14, 2021, at the Hyatt Regency Austin. This will be the 17th AJEI Summit, a blue-ribbon continuing legal education program focusing on appellate issues, open to all justices, judges, lawyers, and staff attorneys. Summit Chair Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Al Diaz, Jr., and his outstanding Planning Committee have put together a program not to be missed. The schedule is online and registration is open. Please also mark your calendar for the 2022 AJEI Summit, to be held in Phoenix, Arizona, November 10-13, 2022.

Let me also mention two other things.

First, through Brian Miller with the Council of Appellate Lawyers (CAL), I have asked that CAL update the Manual on Pro Bono Programs for State Court Appeals (2d ed. 2017). If you haven’t looked at this Manual recently, you should. It’s incredible. And it builds on the original 2013 version that was a blueprint for many appellate court pro bono programs, including the program at the court on which I serve. The new edition of the Manual will also add information about pro bono programs in state Supreme Courts and United States Court of Appeals. We plan to hold a session unveiling the third edition of the Manual at the 2022 AJEI Summit (as happened with the second edition at the 2017 Summit). Thank you CAL for this undertaking!

Second, my hope is we can increase interactions between various Judicial Division components, including members of the AJC, CAL, CASA and other Conferences. AJEI Summits and programming efforts are a key way to do so, which is fabulous, and JD Committees and publications are wonderful opportunities as well. Building off those great things, I hope we can expand the opportunities for all of us to interact more regularly. Some of us participated in a recent CAL “roundtable,” and we are better for it. We are all continuing to look for, and open, those doors in a helpful and productive way, both within the JD and elsewhere in the ABA (including the Litigation Section) and beyond.

Until next time, all the very best and stay healthy and strong.

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