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April 08, 2022 Judicial Division

Chair's Column

By Mr. Christopher G. Browning, Raleigh, NC

The inaugural Bench & Bar Academy took place in Atlanta on April 4-5, 2022. I am deeply grateful to the members of the Planning Committee who have worked so hard in making this program a success. 

Please join me in thanking the Planning Committee members: Judge Ernestine Gray, Rob Browne, ABA Past-President Linda Klein, Ambassador Randy Evans, Attorney General Thurbert Baker, LaKeisha Randall, Janet Scott and Brett Tarver. I am particularly appreciative of Dr. Martha-Marie Kleinhans (ABA CLE) and Tori Wible for their long hours and countless videoconferences in organizing this event. Finally, thanks go out to our many speakers who have helped us to bring the Atlanta bar together with the bench.

The Bench & Bar Academies have been in the planning stages for three years as a result of the pandemic.  This will hopefully become another cornerstone of Judicial Division programming and will one day have a reputation and impact similar to the Appellate Judges Education Institute. (This year’s AJEI Summit will be in Scottsdale, Arizona November 10-13, 2022 – mark your calendar now.)

Following Atlanta, the next Bench & Bar Academy will be in Chicago on May 19-20, 2022. These programs are a great way for the ABA and Judicial Division to connect with our members (and potential members) on a regional basis. Practicing attorneys benefit tremendously by learning from judges about effective advocacy and the pitfalls of trying a case. This outreach effort benefits both the bar and our courts.  If you would like to help organize an Academy in your State, let us know.

My appreciation also goes out to Judge Marcella Holland, Judge Heather Welch, Rob Saunooke and everyone involved in the work of the Diversity Committee, the Judicial Clerkship Program and the Diversity Outreach Program. Judge Holland inspires us to constantly focus on the importance of diversity on the bench, but she also recognizes the importance of the Division being role models for students (ranging from middle school to law school). 

For me, the highpoints of the Midyear Meeting were participating in the outreach program with students at Laredo High School and the law students at the Judicial Clerkship Program, as well as Judge Holland’s acceptance of the Section Officers Conference’s award to JD in the area of diversity. Judge Diana Song Quiroga was instrumental in organizing the Laredo event.  Each year, Judge Frank Sullivan’s research problems at JCP give law students a great perspective on the role and importance of judicial clerks.

If you have not yet participated in the high school outreach effort or the Judicial Clerkship Program, you are missing out. Each time I take part in these events, I am in awe of the students, their engagement with judges and how appreciative they are of the opportunity to meet with JD members. These programs motivate the students and provide them with a deeper understanding of our profession and our courts. As importantly, every JD member who is part of these programs is moved by the stories of these students. It is truly fitting that SOC has recognized the great work of Judge Holland and the Division.

Mr. Christopher G. Browning, Raleigh, NC

Mr. Christopher G. Browning, Raleigh, NC

2021-2022 Judicial Division Chair

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