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October 07, 2022 Appellate Judges Conference

AJC Chair's Column

By Hon. Jacqueline H. Nguyen, Los Angeles, CA

Year three of the worst pandemic in over a hundred years, and it’s still not over. As we continue to adjust to what is now our new normal, I remain humbled by and incredibly grateful to the judiciary’s workforce, the tens of thousands of dedicated public servants across the country who have tirelessly worked to ensure that we continue to deliver critical services to our communities. These efforts would not have succeeded without the widespread embrace of technology. According to research by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which reviewed pandemic-related emergency orders issued by the supreme courts of every state and Washington, D.C., online hearings were initiated at record rates. Significantly, many of these states had not previously held any virtual hearings prior to the pandemic.

Yet even as courts across the country have raced to improve (or in some instances create) infrastructure that would allow the pivot to different approaches of delivering services, the pandemic has exacerbated inequities in our justice system that existed well before the pandemic. I commend to you a very interesting read: the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable Report “Access to Justice in the Age of COVID-19” issued last September. The report examined the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on access to justice and “how the pandemic made more widespread and more acute the life-changing events that people too often face without adequate legal help—like evictions, workplace discrimination, domestic violence, and incarceration.” Letter from the Co-Chairs, Dana Remus, White House Counsel, and Merrick B. Garland, Attorney General. Importantly, the report also highlights some promising ideas that could help in the much-needed modernization of our justice system.

There is much work that needs to be done, and I am excited and honored to chair the Appellate Judges Conference this year. Luckily, I had several years as a trainee under the leadership of outgoing chair Judge Samuel A. Thumma, Judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals, as well as a roster of equally talented AJC chairs before him. Their example will be my model going forward.

Immediately on the horizon for our Conference is the in-person Appellate Judges Education Institute (AJEI) Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona, November 10-13, 2022. We are very fortunate to have Indiana Supreme Court Justice Christopher Goff spearheading the planning efforts, and I know he has an exciting array of fantastic programs lined up. Registration is already open! Please make sure to use code "JDMember" at checkout for an additional $25 off. I hope to see many of you there in November.

Hon. Jacqueline H. Nguyen

2022-2023 Chair, Appellate Judges Conference

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