The President's Message

                                                             President Maggie Robb  -  December 2018



First, thank you for the trust you have placed in me as we are about to celebrate our 40th year. I have been fortunate to be able to learn by watching Judge May. CCJSCA has been blessed with a long line of dedicated, dynamic, and thoughtful Presidents.

This past year has been an exciting one with lots of challenges. We met them head on and I know are ready to complete unfinished tasks, tackle news ones, and learn from them. The rear-view mirror is important because it helps teach us where we are coming from as we plan for the new year.

Last year our Long Term Planning Committee completed an in-depth review of the organization and revised our long-term plan.   We transitioned that committee into one with slightly more on-going tasks under the rubric of “SPEC”: Strategic Planning and Evaluation Committee. The Education committee created several new web columns for information sharing and broadened the scope of the speech bank. We were given permission to link to a fabulous Idaho Bar Association column on editing.   I make all my clerks read it every month. We also now link toThe Journal of Appellate Practice from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. 

Our Membership Committee left no stone unturned and enabled us to have a record breaking number of new members. We are well underway in revamping our web site; the newsletter provided on-going information about who we are and what we are all doing; a “Communications Committee” was established to explore how we could/ should better communicate with our members; and we sought an SJI grant relating to communications. The Finance, Scholarship, and Development committees have been great stewards of our money so that we can do even more to enhance our value to Council members. And we did all that in one year. Phew!

How do I compete with that? My theme is engagement. We have so many great ideas and so much to do and it requires everyone’s participation. We are only as good as we can be if everyone is engaged. My son is in the Navy and they like to say, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Non-participation is our weak link. We are a small, unique, group so we need everyone engaged.

Our web site is being revised and you will be asked for your thoughts on what makes a good web site; what makes a site accessible; what makes you want to use that site. Please share your ideas. If you see yourself as a techy, join the tech committee. We want to explore ideas for effective information sharing, both internally and externally and now is the time to think about things we have never tried. Our current method of asking for help, the Chief’s Forum, has not proven to be a good vehicle for exchanging information. We will explore other alternatives to meet this need. Better exchange of ideas- some will work, some may not, but we will never know if we don’t try it.

We meet once a year. Is there more we can do to keep us closer together year-round- in thoughts, in sharing information, and in friendship?

I hope we will highlight what our members are doing. We have such fabulous chiefs, who are doing fabulous things, please toot your horn. We all want to know. Whether it is on the web site or the newsletter, let us all share in the news so we can celebrate everyone’s achievements.

The Education Committee launched several ideas that I hope you all embrace. It is integral to our 24/7 idea sharing. We all know news, problems and issues spread across the country. What happens in one state will sooner or later appear elsewhere. We can help prepare our courts to be ready. Under the Emerging Issues column, we need short snippets of FYI’s. For example, if your legislature is considering a new law that might directly or even indirectly affect who you are or what you do- alert our members. It might soon appear in someone else’s state. If you hand down a decision that might resonate elsewhere, share it. I know we all have access to legal research, but it takes time before new decisions percolate through the case services -  short circuit that and share it with our members immediately. If your judicial HR person opines on an ethical or employment issue, share that as well.

And speeches- we all give them and sometimes we all need a little help. Because many of us speak from notes or outlines or extemporaneously and don’t compose a polished text, it is often difficult to post a speech on a speech bank. So, we are now referring to our former “Speech Bank” as a “Resource Bank.” If you’ve given a speech, write up a paragraph about what you talked about, the occasion and your contact information. If someone is interested, they can contact you directly. It might be some comments you made at a bar admission ceremony, or perhaps general ethics remarks, or as Judge May posted, comments made at a Thomas Moore event.

We have a new committee this year that is exploring what new things we might consider if we have funds to undertake them. A few of the ideas they are bandying about:  Ideas for keeping retired judges involved; providing some funding to enable states to bring one of our annual meeting speakers to an individual member’s state for an appellate court session; encouraging members to add to our GEMS (great educational moments- our version of TED talks) using local professors or court members who have given a great talk on a subject of interest to our members; and/or creating some small publications on say, the Constitution, that members could use when they speak to classes on Constitution day.

We are all about sharing and helping each other do our jobs better. So please, speak up; sign up; make suggestions; and join in the fun.

Thanks again.