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May 06, 2024

Several prominent Michigan women head agenda for Equal Justice Conference in Detroit

CHICAGO, May 6, 2024 — The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association will convene their 26th annual Equal Justice Conference May 9-11, with dozens of programs and opening remarks from Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and retired federal Judge Victoria A. Roberts.

2024 Equal Justice Conference (EJC)

Thursday-Saturday, May 9-11, 2024 (all times EDT)

Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center
400 Renaissance Drive W
Detroit, Michigan

This year’s EJC conference already has more than1,000 registrants and has emerged as one of the most important annual gatherings of legal services and pro bono advocates who provide services to low-income persons. Its focus is strengthening partnerships among the key players in the civil justice system and offers a host of state and top non-government organization officials, as well as practitioners in the legal services field.

The programs this year are wide-ranging, including panels and speakers on housing, a variety of issues related to low-income residents and legal representation and the environment. As a participant on the closing panel on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., Detroit native Jalonne White-Newsome, senior director for environmental justice at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, will discuss her work advising on environmental justice policy and helping advance the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to leverage the force of the full federal government in advancing environmental justice.

Roberts is past president of the State Bar of Michigan and served as a federal district court judge in the Eastern District of Michigan for 25 years before she retired on Sept.1, 2023. She is recognized as an international teacher and lecturer on behalf of the Federal Judicial Center, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Justice.

On the court, she proposed and implemented the operation of a pro se legal assistance clinic in conjunction with the Detroit Mercy School of Law. It is housed in the federal courthouse. She also submitted a proposal to the bench to launch an early mediation program for pro se prisoner civil rights cases. With nearly 50 volunteer mediators, the program launched June 2018.

Benson, Michigan's 43rd secretary of state, has emerged as one of the nation’s most prominent leaders in ensuring elections are secure and accessible. Her work overseeing Michigan’s 2020 and 2022 general elections, both of which drew record-breaking turnout and were more secure than any prior election in state history, earned her national recognition, including the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award and the Presidential Citizens Medal.

She also implemented new voting rights for all eligible Michiganders prior to the 2020 election, including the right to vote absentee, and oversaw more than 250 audits after the election, all of which affirmed its integrity and accuracy.

Both Benson and Roberts speak at the opening plenary session on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. The entire EJC conference program can be found online here and the full slate speakers is here. All sessions are open to the media, but reporters are required to register in advance by 5 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, May 8, by contacting Bill Choyke at [email protected].

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