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July 15, 2022 National Conference of Federal Trial Judges

NCFTJ Chair's Column

A Brisk Summer

By Hon. Diana Song Quiroga, Laredo, Texas

Life around us has picked up the pace as jury trials resume, in-person proceedings return to dockets, and many of us venture farther afield to travel this summer. We eagerly await the return of the first in-person Annual Meeting from August 3-9 in Chicago. Registration is open, so check out the Judicial Division events lined up including our Conference reception on Thursday, August 4 at the Kluczynski Federal Building in downtown Chicago. We will be honoring Senior U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow, retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier, and retired U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Eugene Wedoff for their decades-long judicial public service.

Members of the Executive Committee have continued to work remotely on behalf of the Conference. In May, we celebrated Asian-American and Pacific Island Heritage Month with the Standing Committee on Diversity in the Judiciary. U.S. District Judges John H. Chun (W.D. Wa.) and Cathy Bissoon (W.D. Pa.) spoke on a panel with other state jurists about how they honed soft skills of advocacy, empathy, and communication with the help of mentors during their professional path to the bench. The frank discussion moderated by Benes A. Aldana, President of the National Judicial College, included the panelists’ senses of gratitude and responsibility for their public service roles as trailblazing AAPI jurists.

In June, Chief U.S. District Judge Nannette J. Brown (E.D. La.), who serves as our Conference representative on the JD Committee on Judicial Security, along with John Muffler, who led the National Center for Judicial Security for the U.S. Marshals Service, and other state judges, shared their personal stories and expert analysis on responding to security threats posed by aggrieved litigants. The urgency of this important webinar broadcasted on June 16 was underscored by the recent headlines of the murder of retired Wisconsin state judge John Roemer and the arrest of a suspect near Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home for attempted murder. If you missed this vital webinar, you can still access the recording free as part of your JD benefits (promo code JDSEC at checkout) to learn how to implement practical safety and security measures to safeguard yourselves and your families.

In July, U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps moderated a stellar panel of magistrate and bankruptcy judges in the webinar Mediating a Federal Case: Practice Tips for Judges & Lawyers. The judges shared how attorneys can successfully resolve contested matters through no-cost court-hosted settlement conferences. The panel included former U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Klein, who prior to her retirement from the bench was a lead faculty member for the Federal Judicial Center Mediation Skills Workshop taught annually, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix, this year’s President of the Federal Magistrate Judges Association. Our Conference sponsored the free webinar to showcase this often-underutilized resource that increases the public’s access to the courts. Thanks to the Federal Magistrate Judges Association and the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges for publicizing the webinar to their members.

If these kinds of opportunities interest you, I encourage you to consider serving on the Executive Committee as an officer or director for the 2022-2023 association year. 

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Bailey, who retired from the bench on June 1, exemplified the kind of leadership through volunteerism in the ABA that we hope to follow. Among many roles that he undertook since 2010, Frank served as the Chair of our Conference from 2016-2017, as a Judicial Member at Large on the Board of Governors, and as the Assistant Budget Director for our Judicial Division from 2021-2022. Frank shared that his involvement in the NCFTJ allowed him “to work with like-minded judges on such important issues as judicial diversity, law clerk hiring and diversity, judicial security, and matters of great importance to the bankruptcy system,” and that he has “made lifelong friends from all over the U.S. on all the federal benches” so that now he “has a judicial friend in every port!”

Bravo, Judge Bailey! I could not have said it any better as I close my year serving as your Chair. Thank you for the honor and privilege of leading our Conference through this tough year as we sorted out our “new normal” while emerging from the heights of the Covid pandemic. Your next Chair, Judge Epps, will bring great energy and dedication to the post. I am excited at what the future has in store and wish you and yours all the best.

Hon. Diana Song Quiroga

2021-2022 Chair, National Conference of Federal Trial Judges

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