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April 07, 2023 Judicial Division

JD Chair's Column

By Hon. Ernestine S. Gray (Ret.), New Orleans, LA


March marks three years since the pandemic hit and changed our lives in so many significant ways – we have endured the loss of loved ones, as well as impacts on our health, finances, connections and education. But, thanks to our resilient nature, things are slowly getting us back closer to the way we used to be.

One indication of this, was the ABA Midyear Meeting held in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 1-6, 2023. By all accounts, I think all who were able to attend the midyear meeting in “Nawlins” had a pleasant experience. Thanks to all who participated as an attendee, panelist or presenter. Thanks also to all those who serve as Chairs, Co-Chairs and liaisons to various Committees, Sections, Divisions and Forums. And a special thanks to the staff for their excellent preparation, support, and attention to detail. You will read more about activities and events at Midyear throughout this issue of the JD Record.

It is hard to believe that my year as Chair of the Division is half over, but I am looking forward to the second half of the year with great anticipation for the “good trouble” that we will get in together. I urge you to get involved in the work of our committees – that is where great programs are created and executed. It is not too late!

In March we celebrated Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day on March 8th. In his proclamation on March 1st, President Biden stated “Women – often women of color – have been on the frontlines, fighting for and securing equal rights and opportunity throughout our country’s history as abolitionists, civil rights leaders, suffragists and labor activists. But, despite significant progress, women and girls continue to face systemic barriers to full equal participation in our economy and society.” This year’s theme, Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories, recognized women who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling including print, radio, tv, stage, screens, blogs, podcasts and more.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month which follows Presidential and Gubernatorial Proclamations expressing the need to work together as communities, in partnerships between child welfare professionals, educators, health, community- and faith based organizations, businesses, law enforcement agencies, policymakers and families to strengthen families and prevent abuse and neglect. I urge each of you to recognize this month and dedicate yourselves to wherever you can, however you can in order to improve the quality of life. Supporters are encouraged to wear a blue ribbon as a part of the Blue-Ribbon Campaign which started in Virginia when a grandmother tied a blue ribbon to her van to remind the community of the death of her three year old granddaughter at the hands of her daughter’s abusive boyfriend.

Looking ahead, May is National Foster Care Month, an initiative by the U. S. Children’s Bureau to recognize foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent connections and homes. Blue is also the color for National Foster Care Month.

As we continue to ruminate on the theme For Our Children: A Justice System that Protects, Corrects and Prepares, I encourage you to consider how ABA Resolution 606 might be used during these two important month recognitions to improve the lives of children and families who come in contact with many of courts on a daily basis.

Looking forward to seeing many more of you in Denver in August for the ABA’s 2023 Annual Meeting.

Ernestine S. Gray (Ret.)

2022-2023 Chair, Judicial Division

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