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July 15, 2022 National Conference of the Administrative Law Judiciary

NCALJ Chair's Column

By Hon. John C. Allen, IV, Chicago, IL

One of the many benefits of ABA membership is the wide variety of subjects covered in depth by the many Sections, Divisions and Forums (SDFs). I took advantage of that opportunity and joined the Forum on Air and Space Law, which has absolutely nothing to do with my professional life, solely because I was interested in the subject matter. Even as we work in the SDFs that are most relevant to us, individual members are given the opportunity to serve as liaisons to other areas of interest.

NCALJ has taken that banner across the ocean and formed relationships with other Administrative Judges in foreign countries. Judge Ed Felter, from Colorado, has spent a great deal of time nurturing relationships in Turkey that culminated in a live presentation during a recent (pre-pandemic) Annual Meeting in 2017 where Edith Zeller was able to present via Skype and Henri Barkey appeared in person.

The NCALJ International Law Committee Co-Chair, Judge Mimi Tsankov, put forth a herculean effort with our European counterparts. Due to her hard work, NCALJ is thrilled to announce that in May, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Association of European Administrative Judges. This MOU represents the culmination of many years of outreach by NCALJ’s International Law Committee, especially Judge Ed Felter, Co-Chair of our NCALJ International Law Committee and Judge Alex Manuel who spearheaded its passage through the ABA Board of Governors last year. The mission of NCALJ is to enhance the status and competence of the administrative judiciary and to promote the quality, efficiency and delivery of justice through the operation of the administrative justice system. American and European administrative law judges face similar issues and through education and outreach, we hope to advance a mutual understanding of challenges facing administrative law judges on both continents. Over a period of multiple years, through the sustained work of Judge Edith Zeller, Judge Camille Vinet, and others at the AEAJ, our organizations have engaged in informal communication and outreach with the goal of advancing each of our organizational missions. By finalizing the Memorandum of Understanding, we are formalizing our collaboration to better serve our members through targeted outreach and education opportunities.

The relationship between the ABA and the AEAJ dates back seven years to 2015, at which time Judge Ed Felter first had contact with Judge Edith Zeller.  That connection deepened through co-operation in 2016, during a crisis involving the oppression of Turkish Judges. Shortly afterwards, AEAJ’s Greek colleague, Catherine Koutsopoulou represented AEAJ during the ABA national convention in San Francisco, during August 2016. In August 2017, Edith participated as panel speaker in a skype conference organized by ABA on the situation of judiciary in Turkey. More recently, Judge Tsankov has had valuable exchanges with Judge Camille Vinet, AEAJ’s representative on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The two groups have had many productive exchanges on issues of judicial independence. Edith Zeller and Alex Manuel have had discussions about how to support Afghan judges who were trying to leave the country in the crisis in 2021. NCALJ looks forward to a long, fruitful relationship with AEAJ.

NCALJ remains proud of its continued history of steadfast involvement in its community; whether that community is local current events or global support of our oversees brethren.  That influence happens when professionals across the country band together within the American Bar Association and the Judicial Division and make the concerted efforts to make our profession stronger, wiser, and welcoming.

John C. Allen, IV

2021-2022 Chair, National Conference of the Administrative Law Judiciary

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