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February 16, 2024 Appellate Judges Conference

Council of Appellate Staff Attorneys Chair's Column

By Jessica Ballard-Barnett, Indianapolis, IN

I have always enjoyed attending the Appellate Judges Education Institute (AJEI) Summit. I often call the Summit “attorney summer camp” – a time to meet with old friends, learn new skills, have a little fun, and find ways to further organizational goals until the next Summit. This year, the Summit was held in Washington, DC, which is always a treat!

Each Summit, the Council of Appellate Staff Attorneys (CASA) members visit local law schools to speak to students about the role of law clerks and staff attorneys in the judicial process. This year was no exception. CASA members visited the law schools at American Catholic University and Georgetown University and met with students interested in public service. These sessions are so important because they emphasize the value of working as a public servant in the judiciary beyond term clerkships, internships, and externships. 

Another yearly tradition is the CASA Dinner and T-shirt Exchange. This year, the dinner was held at Fat Pete’s BBQ, and about 35 law clerks, staff attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals attended. Not only is the dinner an opportunity for AJEI attendees to gather in a casual atmosphere, but the T-shirt exchange can become quite competitive!

The Summit also marks the CASA annual meeting, including Board elections. CASA is fortunate to have many enthusiastic new members from all over the country and from several different types of courts who are interested in serving on the Board. This year’s officers are:

Chair – Jessica Ballard-Barnett, Indiana Court of Appeals
Chair-Elect – Jennifer Williams, South Dakota Supreme Court
Immediate Past Chair – Cliffie Wesson, Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals
Secretary – Heather Wood, Tennessee Supreme Court
Board Member at Large, Year 2 – Joshua Wolinsky, Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
Board Member at Large, Year 2 – Jessica Ford, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Board Member at Large, Year 1 – Jennifer Shircliff, Indiana Supreme Court
Board Member at Large, Year 1 – Amye King, Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals
Board Member at Large, Year 1 – Margaret Bullard, Court of Appeals of Georgia

This year, CASA is partnering with the Council for Appellate Lawyers (CAL) and the Appellate Judges Conference (AJC) to plan webinars and AJEI programming. Additionally, CASA will be engaging in more robust recruitment techniques to encourage membership from multiple members of the same court. It will be a busy year and the CASA Board is excited to get these initiatives started. If you are interested in joining CASA, please visit our webpage.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank our immediate past chair, Cliffie Wesson. Cliffie is a long time CASA member, and her experience has been evident in her leadership. During her tenure as Chair, CASA effectively advocated for important AJEI sessions and became involved in planned webinars, both of which increase CASA’s visibility and membership. Thank you, Cliffie, for your service and continued support of CASA!

Jessica Ballard-Barnett

2023-2024 Chair, AJC Council of Appellate Staff Attorneys

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