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January 31, 2022 Judicial Division

Chair's Column

By Mr. Christopher G. Browning, Raleigh, NC

For the fourth time, the Judicial Division will join together at a virtual ABA meeting. While I looked forward to seeing many of you in Seattle for the Midyear Meeting, I hope that the virtual setting will allow more of us to get together this February.  Despite the packed schedule of business meetings, I urge everyone to make time to connect with old friends and to make new ones.

The Appellate Judges Conference has led the way for the JD to resume live meetings. Over 300 people safely attended the Appellate Judges Education Institute Summit in November. That event brought appellate judges and practitioners from throughout the country together in Austin, Texas.

Additionally, the Atlanta Bench & Bar Academy will take place April 4-5, 2022. Like the Division’s in-person meetings, these regional CLE programs have also been delayed by two years. These programs have judges in the area teaching trial attorneys how to be more effective in the courtroom. I ask your help in getting the word out about our Inaugural Bench & Bar Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. If you are in the Atlanta area, please also consider attending one of the highlights of the Academy – the William D. Missouri Civility Lecture which honors the late Judge Missouri, one of our past Chairs and a great mentor to so many of us.

I give a special thanks to the Division’s Book Editorial Board. Through creativity and hard work, that Committee has shepherded two exceptional books to publication and has numerous others in the pipeline. I urge you to purchase both of these publications immediately.

Resolving Gerrymandering: A Manageable Standard by Robert Schafer is a must-read for any judge or advocate who faces redistricting issues, as well as anyone who desires a better understanding of how gerrymandering impacts our democracy. Professor Erwin Chemerinsky’s book The Supreme Court in Transition: October Term 2020 provides us with a spectacular analysis of the most recent Term of the Court but also his insight as to what lies ahead.

Other great work is being done by so many others within the Division. Regrettably, space only allows me to highlight a few. Judge Leslie Miller’s Committee on Judicial Security is off to a great start developing resources and programming to help judges identify and respond to threats. On December 2, 2021, the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 21-0. The JD is extremely grateful to ABA President Turner and Immediate-Past President Refo for urging Congress to enact this very important bill.

Judge Alex Manuel and Judge John Allen have been strong advocates for addressing judicial independence in federal agency adjudications. At Judge Manuel’s request, I formed a JD Task Force, led by Judge David Welch, Col. Linda Murnane, Col. Tara Osborn, and Judge Allen, to address this complex issue. The Task Force includes numerous stakeholders that bring a diversity of perspectives and experience to the problem. The work of this Task Force has begun in earnest, and it has been a great pleasure to participate in those meetings and hear the robust debate as the Task Force works to better understand and address this important issue. Thank you Judge Manuel for ensuring that judicial independence remains front and center for the Division.

Thank you also to Judges Terry Ruckriegle, Ernestine Gray and Elizabeth Stong, as well as Tori Wible, for volunteering on an expedited basis to work with the Coordinating Group on Practice Forward in drafting a resolution and report on virtual court proceedings. Like the Task Force on Judicial Independence, this is a great example of the Division’s collaboration with other ABA entities. That collaboration is something that the JD’s HOD Delegate, Rick Bien, has worked for over many years to establish in the House of Delegates.

If you are not regularly joining the Wednesday Wellness, First Thursday, and Heritage Month presentations, you are missing out. These monthly programs are inspiring, informative and entertaining. A list of upcoming offerings can be found online. I urge you to add one or more to your calendar now.

Many of our members are actively involved in other ABA entities. In this report, I want to highlight the Division’s role in the Uniform Law Commission. Keith Barnett served as the ABA Advisor to ULC’s Study Committee on College Athlete Name, Image, and Likeness Issues. Judge Elizabeth Stong has recently been appointed as the ABA Advisor to ULC’s Study Committee on the U.N. Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation. William McKinney has been appointed as the Judicial Division representative to the Drafting Committee on Public Health Emergency Authorities. The Division wants to highlight our members’ work outside of JD, so please keep us informed of such service.

Lastly, I remind all of our members of the Division’s current campaign to have our members contribute to the Division’s Fund for Justice and Education by year end. Thus far, this campaign has been tremendously successful – but our goal is to have everyone participate (no contribution is too small or too large).  Please make a contribution now.

I hope to see you at Midyear. Stay safe, stay healthy and stay committed to serving justice.

Mr. Christopher G. Browning, Raleigh, NC

Mr. Christopher G. Browning, Raleigh, NC

2021-2022 Judicial Division Chair

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