President May Receives Distinguished Service Award 09/10/2018

Judge Melanie May, who serves on the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Florida is the recipient of the National Center’s Distinguished Service Award.  Judge May started as a circuit court judge in Broward County in 1991 before moving to the court of appeals in 2001. She served as chief judge of the appellate court from 2011 to 2013. 


While on the Broward bench, she distinguished herself by overseeing one of the nation’s first drug courts, focusing on getting treatment to nonviolent offenders. As a lawyer and a judge, she is known as thoughtful, hard-working and always prepared.  She also has earned a reputation for looking for ways to improve the justice system. 


As evidence of that commitment, she is on the Supreme Court of Florida’s Steering Committee on Treatment-Based Drug Courts, has served on the Advisory Council to the Office of Drug Control since 1999, and is a member of the Reentry Task Force and the Trial Court Performance and Accountability Committee.  On a national level, Judge May served as a member of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and of the Council of Chief Judges of State Courts of Appeal, chairing numerous committees and now serving as its president.

Arthur G. Scotland receives American Inns of Court Award 09/10/2018

Art Scotland, retired Presiding Justice of California’s Third District Court of Appeal and former president of the Council,  has been selected to receive has been selected to receive the 2018 A. Sherman Christensen Award.  The Award was announced by Executive Director Malinda Dunn of The American Inns of Court and will be presented at the American Inns of Court Celebration of Excellence at the Supreme Court of the United States on the evening of October 20, 2018.  Justice Scotland currently serves of counsel with the firm of  Nielsen Merksamer Parrinello Gross & Leoni, LLP in Sacramento, California, and remains active in in a host of law related activities, including the American Board of Trial Advocates and the Council of Chief Judges as a well as numerous charitable and civic activities in Sacramento and elsewhere.

Judge Robb Receives Bar Association's Civility Judge Award 07/30/2018

The Indiana State Bar Association announced  that Judge Margret Robb received its 2018 Civility Judge Award.    The award recognizes recipients for outstanding civility and professionalism in their dealings with fellow judges, attorneys, parties, witnesses, and the public.

 Robb attained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business economics from Purdue before attending Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

 Her career includes many accomplishments. In 2011, Robb became the first woman to serve as the chief judge of Indiana’s Court of Appeals in the Court's more than 100 year history.   She has acted as an officer and board member of the Indiana State Bar Association, the fellows of the Indiana State Bar Foundation, Tippecanoe County Bar Association, National Association of Women Judges and the Council of Chief Judges of State Cours of Appeal.

She was first appointed to the court of Appeals in July 1998 by then-Gov. Frank O’Bannon.

Robb will officially receive the award at a luncheon on Aug. 30, 2018.

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Jim Humes New Administrative Presiding Justice in California 07/30/2018

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has announced her designation of Justice Jim Humes as Administrative Presiding Justice of the First Appellate District in San Francisco.  Justice Humes previously made history by becoming the first openly gay justice appointed to serve on the California Court of Appeals.

Governor Jerry Brown appointed Justice Humes to the First Appellate District in 2012. He joined the court as an associate justice in Division Four, and in 2014 was elevated to presiding justice of Division One.  In a Court of Appeal with more than one division, the Chief Justice may designate a presiding justice to act as administrative presiding justice. The administrative presiding justice supervises the court's day-to-day operations, overseeing matters that include personnel, budget, and facilities.

Justice Humes holds a law degree from the University of Denver, a master’s degree in social science from the University of Colorado, and a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University.  Before joining the Court of Appeal, Justice Humes served for two years as Governor Brown's executive secretary for legal affairs, administration, and policy. Before that, Justice Humes served as the chief deputy for then-Attorney General Jerry Brown, where he managed the California Department of Justice—an agency that employed more than 5,000 people, including 1,100 attorneys. Justice Humes previously served as the chief assistant for the civil division and held management and supervisory positions in the health, education & welfare and correctional law sections of the attorney general’s office. Justice Humes began his career in public service in the Colorado Attorney General’s Office where he was first appointed to be a deputy in the regulatory law section, and later became a senior assistant attorney general in the tort litigation section. In addition to his public sector work, he also practiced law in private Colorado firms.

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Denise Clayton Appointed Chief Judge in Kentucky 07/10/2018

Judge Denise Clayton has become the first African American to serve as the chief judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.  She was elected by her fellow judges in June and has assumed her new role.  Her role entails providing administrative oversight to the court while hearing cases on appeal from lower courts.     A trail blazer, Judge Clayton was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2007 where she became the first black woman to serve on the court.   And years earlier, she was the first black woman to be a circuit court judge in Kentucky.   Judge Clayton graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio. She earned her juris doctor degree from the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law.  She began her legal career as an attorney with the Internal Revenue Service.  She  later worked at the University of Louisville as the director of student legal services and maintained a private practice. She was the Legal Aid Society of Louisville’s associate director before becoming a Jefferson County District Court judge in 1996.  Among her many awards, Judge Clayton was selected as the 2012 recipient of the Distinguished Judge Award by the Kentucky Bar Association.

Mary Greenwood, California Administrative Presiding Justice 07/10/2018

Mary J. Greenwood is the recently appointed Administrative Presiding Justice of the Sixth District Court of Appeal, where she has served as an associate justice since 2017. Greenwood served as a judge of the Santa Clara County Superior Court from 2012 to 2017.   Before assuming the bench, she served as a deputy and later assistant  public defender from  1982 until  2005.  In 2005,  she was appointed Santa Clara Public Defender, serving until her judicial appointment in 2012.   She was also an attorney at Coblentz, Patch, Duffy and Bass LLP in 2001 and an associate at the Boccardo Law Firm in 1997. Justice Greenwood earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Grinnell College.  

Peter Siggins Appointed Presiding Justice in California 06/29/2018

Peter J. Siggins has been appointed presiding justice, Division Three of the First District Court of Appeal. Siggins has served as an associate justice at the First District Court of Appeal since 2006. Prior to that  He served in the Governor’s Office as Legal Affairs Secretary and interim Chief of Staff, and before that, as California’s Chief Deputy Attorney General.  He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola Marymount University and was in private practice before entering government service with the Attorney General’s Office.

Joan Bernard Armstrong, First Female Elected Louisiana Judge Passes 06/19/2018

When Judge Armstrong was elected to the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court bench in 1974, she was the first female and first African-American woman elected judge in the state. She later served as chief judge of the state's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.  Judge Armstrong died in New Orleans on June 9, 2018.    In 2011, Judge Armstrong announced her retirement from the bench after 37 years, which made her the longest-serving judge in Louisiana at the time.  A graduate of Xavier University and Loyola University Law School, she was elected without opposition to the appeals court in 1984, as that court's first female jurist. She became chief judge in 2003.

During her tenure on the bench, Judge Armstrong was chairman of the Louisiana Conference of Court of Appeal Judges from 2004 to 2005 and was also a member of the Judiciary Budgetary Board; Judicial Ethics Committee; Judicial Human Resources Committee; Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Criminal Justice.

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Chief Judge Lisa Neubauer Mulls Wisconsin Supreme Court 06/19/2018

Wisconsin Court of Appeals Chief Judge Lisa Neubauer is reported to be considering a Spring 2019  run for the seat of retiring  Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson.  Potential opponents include Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ  and Second District Appeals Court Judge Brian Hagedorn.

 Neubauer graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1979. Prior to attending law school, she worked as an aide to state Senator Fred Risser.   Neubauer graduated from the University of Chicago Law School where she was a member of the Order of the Coif.   Following graduation, she was a law clerk to Judge Barbara Brandriff Crabb on the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin and thereafter joined  the Milwaukee law firm Foley and Lardner, specializing in environmental cleanup litigation.  In December 2007,  she was appointed  by Democratic Governor Jim Doyle to a seat on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and was  the first woman to serve on District II.   She was later elected to a full term in a contested election.   In 2009, Neubauer was appointed presiding judge of District II and in 2015 the Wisconsin Supreme Court appointed Neubauer chief judge of the Court of Appeals.

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CCJSCA Hall of Fame Nominations Invited 04/16/2018

Chief Judge David Enoch of Colorado  is the founder of the Council of Chief Judges and a member of the Council's Hall of Fame.  The Nominating Committee, chaired by immediate Past President Judge Bill Murphy,  is seeking nominations of individuals like Judge Enoch who are deserving of recognition and honor for their notable extraordinary services to the CCJSCA.  The eligibility requirements are as follows:            

  1. Shall have been a CCJSCA member for a minimum of five years, if a judge, or provided significant and substantial service to the Council for at least five years, if not a judge.

  2. Shall have provided extensive service to the CCJSCA that advanced the CCJSCA mission in a unique and extraordinary manner over and above the performance of those duties specifically assigned to members and officers by the CCJSCA’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.

  3. May have, in addition to his or her CCJSCA service, other notable accomplishments that bring honor and distinction upon the CCJSCA.

  4. May be retired or deceased.

  5. May not be a regular, associate or provisional CCJSCA member.

Although not awarded annually, the Hall of Fame recognition is the highest honor the Council bestows on worthy recipients and no one is better situated to make a recommendation than our members themselves.  Generally speaking it is thought that most inductees would come from Life Members of the Council who are defined in the bylaws as “A judge not currently serving on a Court of Appeal who has been previously a Chief Judge of a Court of Appeal and a Regular Member of the Council.”  So please give it some thought and forward your recommendations to our Association Manager, Lynn Kuderka ( no later than June 1, 2018.


Kansas Chief Judge Honored with Distinguished Alumni Award 04/03/2018

Chief Judge Karen Arnold-Burgerof the Kansas Court of Appeals will be honored during a private dinner April 7 in Lawrence and presented with the University of Kansas School of Law’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award. The Distinguished Alumni Award celebrates graduates for their professional achievements, contributions to the legal field and service to their communities and the university.  Judge Arnold-Burger began her judicial career in 1991 as a municipal judge for the city of Overland Park after serving as a prosecutor and assistant United States attorney for the District of Kansas.  Thereafter, Governor Mark Parkinson appointed her to the Kansas Court of Appeals in 2011.  Chief Justice Lawton Nuss named her chief judge in 2017. She received the Kansas Bar Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2016. Arnold-Burger earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, psychology and personnel administration in 1978 and a law degree in 1982, both from the University of Kansas. 

Nevada Chief Judge Abbi Silver Wins Seat on Nevada Supreme Court 03/08/2018

Nevada Court of Appeals Chief Judge Abbi Silver has won one of two open seats on the Nevada Supreme Court after no one filed against her.  The remaining seat drew five candidates, requiring a primary election to whittle them down to two and then a November general election.   When asked why would one nonpartisan seat draw only one person and the other five, Silver said: “I’m a hard worker, end of story,” Judge Silver has a history of scaring off opponents with her relentless fundraising ability and her strong campaign skills. She will step into retiring Justice Michael Douglas’ seat without enduring the anxiety and fundraising efforts of a campaign.  Silver’s lack of opponents went unnoticed by the news media when filing ended Jan. 12, and she said she’s reluctant to broadcast it beyond friends because “until it’s in the newspaper, it doesn’t seem real.”  Judge Silver received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In 1989, she received her Juris Doctor degree from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, California.   From 1994 until 2003, Judge Silver was assigned to the Special Victim’s Unit of the District Attorney’s Office.   In 2003 She was elected to the Las Vegas Municipal Court; in 2006, to the Las Vegas Justice Court; and in 2009 to the District Court.  In 2015, following her nomination by the Nevada Judicial Selection Committee, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval appointed Silver to the Inaugural Court of Appeals of Nevada where she currently sits.

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Judge Jill Johanson’s Husband Dies in Ski Accident 03/08/2018

It is with deep regret that we write of the death of Patrick Kubin, husband of our colleague from Washington,  Judge Jill Johanson.   He was killed in an unlikely skiing accident on Washington’s Mount Hood February 22.   Patrick, a long-time Longview, Washington  lawyer, advocate for disadvantaged children, and community booster was on his last run of the day at Mount Hood Meadows when his ski bindings inexplicably released and he flipped into a hole in the snow.   Kubin was an expert, lifelong skier.  Judge Johanson and Kubin met as law students at University of Willamette College of Law in Salem, where Kubin graduated in 1986. That same year the couple moved to Longview, where Kubin practiced as a defense attorney and, more recently, served as a Cowlitz County court commissioner.   Besides his enthusiasm for skiing and the outdoors, Kubin enjoyed writing novels and short stories and was involved in Wordfest, a gathering of writers. He was a member of the Sandbaggers group, which sponsors Longview’s annual Squirrel Fest and is known for its red seersucker suits and playful appearances at community events. He also was president of the Children’s Community Resources, which helps get health care for low-income children.  President Melanie May is preparing formal condolences to Judge Johanson on behalf of the Council

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Chief Judge Michael Talbot Retires from Michigan Court of Appeals. 03/07/2018




The chief judge at the Michigan Court of Appeals, an active member of the Council,  is retiring after 40 years on the bench.  Michael Talbot was first appointed to the bench in 1978 by Gov. William Milliken.  After 20 years, he was promoted to the appeals court by Gov. John Engler and won a series of elections.  He was appointed the chief judge of the court in 2014, replacing  former Council president  Bill Murphy.   Talbot said in a statement that his career was shaped by a willingness to “say ‘yes’ to opportunities, to new experiences, and the chances to learn and grow.”  Former Michigan Chief Justice Robert Young, who selected Talbot to set up the state's Court of Claims and later to serve as a special judicial administrator to address severe backlogs and administrative problems of  the 36th District Court, praised the retiring judge:  “He is 'an extraordinarily talented jurist, and unlike most judges he has superior administrative abilities.”   Talbot said Monday he's stepping down on April 25. Gov. Rick Snyder will have an opportunity to pick a successor.

Talbot received a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and earned his law degree from the University of Detroit.

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Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals Race Features Money, Hot Button Issues. 03/07/2018

It is not often that a judicial race features money from out of state contributors and positions on national political issues.   The race for a slot on 3rd District Court of Appeals in Texas is an exception.  Mike Toth, a special counsel to  Texas Attorney  General Ken Paxton and a candidate in the   race has collected over $151,000 in the Republican  primary and more than a third of it comes from out of state.  His campaign materials espouse positions on voter fraud, religious liberty, President Trump’s travel ban, extreme vetting  of refugees,  sanctuary cities,  and rolling back federal regulations.  Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Tom Phillips, a Republican, said he’d “never seen anything quite like” the mailer Toth sent out.  The 3rd District Court of Appeals, whose six members are all Republicans, hears important state government and regulatory cases. Its 24-county jurisdiction includes Travis County, where the Capitol, top politicians’ offices and major government agencies are located.  Rice University political scientist Mark Jones  said the source and size of Toth’s donations, plus his overt embrace of conservative policy positions, all make his campaign unusual.  But Jones calls it a logical outgrowth of forcing judges into the same partisan primary environment that candidates for governor, the Legislature or Congress face.  “It’s a natural evolution of having direct election for judges,” Jones said. “If the post exercises power, then it makes perfect sense for people who want to influence the direction of power to give money there.”

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Welbaum Elected Presiding Judge Ohio 2nd District 02/21/2018

Judge Jeffrey M. Welbaum of Troy, Ohio  was elected Presiding and Administrative Judge of the Ohio Second District Court of Appeals for 2018 by his fellow judges.  He joined the Court of Appeals in February 2013. Before his election to the appellate bench, he was a General Division Miami County, Ohio Common Pleas Judge from 1995 to 2010 and was its Drug Court Judge for eight years.   He graduated Cum Laude with a B.S. degree from The Defiance College in 1974. After working his way through law school, he graduated from the Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law in 1977.   Prior to his judicial service, he was in the private practice of law, was an Assistant Miami County Prosecuting Attorney, an Assistant Miami County Public Defender, a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and, for 10 years, was the elected Miami County Prosecuting Attorney.

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Texas Chief Justice Ann McClure Honored 02/21/2018

Texas Women Lawyers presented its 2018 Pathfinder Award to Ann C. McClure, chief justice of the 8th District Court of Appeals. The award is given annually to an individual who has championed the advancement of women in the law and who exemplifies professionalism, leadership and commitment to the public interest. McClure is the first female chief justice in the 100-year history of the 8th Court of Appeals of Texas.

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Elizabeth A. Garry Sworn in as N.Y Presiding Justice 01/25/2018


Elizabeth Garry, who has served in the Appellate Division since 2009,  was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on New Year’s Day as Presiding Justice for the Appellate Division for the Third Judicial Department and was sworn in on January 17.   She is a graduate of Alfred University and was awarded a JD degree with honors from Albany Law School.  After serving four years as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Irad Ingraham, she entered the private practice of law for 11 years until her election to the Supreme Court in 2006.  Garry’s predecessor was the first woman to serve as presiding justice in the Third Department in 2012, and Garry herself will be the first openly lesbian presiding justice in the state.

The Appellate Division is New York State's intermediate level appellate court.  It hears appeals from trial courts.  Decisions of  the Appellate Division are reviewed by the  Court of Appeals, the State's highest court.  The Appellate Division, Third Department, located in Albany, is one of four Appellate Division Departments. 

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Adele Hedges, Former Chief justice of Texas 14th Court of Appeals Dies 01/25/2018



Adele Hedges, a former chief justice of the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston died of heart failure on January 24, 2018.   Hedges graduated from the University of Houston in 1968 and then earned a masters and PhD from Rice, all in French literature.  A year later, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of Houston Law Center.  She practiced with Fulbright & Jaworski, and served as general counsel for a real estate company before joining Porter & Clements as of counsel.  She was thereafter elected to the First Court of Appeals in Houston before being appointed chief justice of the 14th Court of Appeals.  She retired in 2013 and opened an appeals and mediation practice in Houston.  She and her husband, also a prominent lawyer, had planned to relocate to New Hampshire.

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Everett Inbody Announces Retirement 11/19/2017

Everett O. Inbody, a long time member of the Council of Chief Judges who serves on the Fifth Appellate Court Judicial District of Nebraska has announced his retirement after almost 32 years of judicial service.  A member of the Council's Executive Committee, Judge Inbody was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1995 and served as Chief Judge for 10 years. He was named "Outstanding Judge", the highest honor given by the Chief Justice to members of the judiciary.  Judge Inbody  is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and the University of Nebraska College of Law.


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Journal of Appellate Practice and Process 10/09/2017

By special arrangement with the University of Arkansas Little Rock, issues of the Journal of Appellate Practice and Process are now available in the Learning Center.  See link under "Learning Center" on the home page.

Membership Brochure Released 10/09/2017

A new brochure has been designed to promote the benefits of membership and participation in the Council of Chief Judges.  Click here to view.

Texas Chief to Keynote Red Mass Celebration 09/20/2017

Chief Justice Sandee B. Marion of the Texas Fourth District Court of Appeals will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Red Mass held in the district.  The Red Mass is a Mass celebrated annually in the Catholic Church for judges, lawyers, law school professors, law students, and government officials.  It   originated in 13th century France, gradually spread to other parts of Europe and was first celebrated in the United States   in New York City on Oct. 6, 1928.  The Mass coincides with the opening of the October term of the U.S. Supreme Court .  The Diocese of Laredo, federal and state judiciaries, as well as officials and bar associations from the seven counties composing the diocese, Webb, Maverick, Dimmit, Zavala, La Salle, Zapata and Jim Hogg county, come together to plan and celebrate the Red Mass each year.  

Read more about  the Red Mass:

Read more about Chief Justice Marion

Hurricane Irma Closes Florida Courts 09/13/2017

Florida  courts closed Friday in anticipation of Hurricane Irma and some remained closed on Wednesday, after the hurricane passed.   Courthouses in the 7th Judicial Circuit will remain closed Wednesday by order of Chief Judge Raul A. Zambrano.

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Texas Courts Crippled by Hurricane Harvey 08/31/2017

Federal and state courts along the Texas Gulf Coast have closed their doors and suspended all operations as a result of Hurricane Harvey.   The Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday issued an emergency order to allow the courts affected by the disaster to suspend regular court procedures and deadlines.  All courts in Texas must view any disaster-caused delay as good cause to modify deadlines and procedures in any case, civil or criminal. The order is effective for one month.

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Female Majority on Utah Court of Appeals 08/18/2017

The Utah Court of Appeals for the first time has a majority female membership — four women and three men.   Replacing male judges, two new  female appointees took seats on the Appeals Court this month — assistant U.S. attorney Diana Hagen and 3rd District Judge Ryan Harris.  The new judges joined Michele Christiansen, David Mortensen, Gregory Orme, Jill Pohlman and Kate Toomey on the bench.   With a female majority, younger people don’t look at a spot on the bench as a “token seat,” Pohlman said. Mortensen said upcoming generations will see the judiciary as a pathway open to everyone.  And  Christine Durham, who became the state’s first female trial court judge in 1978 and the first woman to serve on the Utah Supreme Court four years later,  called the new majority a historical milestone:  “It sends a message that women in the courts, the legal profession and society are recognized as having important roles to play in public service.”    Nationally, about 31 percent of state court judges in the United States were female in 2016, according to the National Association of Women Judges.   In Utah  male judges outnumber women 151 to 48.  About a fourth of the Utah State Bar membership is female.

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Rothenberg New Chief Judge Florida's Third District 08/14/2017


Judge Leslie B. Rothenberg was appointed Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal’s new chief judge. She replaces  Judge Richard Suarez whose  term ended in July.  She was appointed to the Third District in January 2005, after serving eleven years on the Circuit Court.  She began her legal career in 1986 as a prosecutor in the  Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office where she quickly ascended  to chief of the felony division before her election to the Circuit Court in 1992.  During her tenure as Chief Judge, Judge Rothenberg will be overseeing the multi-million dollar renovations to the Third District Court of Appeal courthouse, and serving as the Chair of the Florida Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges, for the 2017-2018 term.

Chief Scott Kafker Nominated To Mass. Supreme Court 07/11/2017

Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn  Polito today announced the nomination of Massachusetts Appeals Court Chief Justice Scott Kafker to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC).  

“ We are confident that, if confirmed, Chief Justice Kafker’s nearly three decades of service and his knowledge and commitment to the law will be a welcome addition to one of the nation’s leading appellate courts,” said Governor Baker. “

A  graduate of Amherst College and the University of Chicago Law School, Kafker clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf.  He was deputy chief legal counsel  for Governor  William Weld, and then served as chief legal counsel for  the Massachusetts Port Authority  before Governor Paul Cellucci  appointed him to the state's second highest court in 2001.

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Chief Justice Carolyn Wright to be Honored for Integrity, Professionalism 06/21/2017

The Texas Center for Legal Ethics announced that Chief Justice Carolyn Wright of the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals will receive the 2017 Chief Justice Jack Pope Professionalism Award.    The award  is presented each year to a judge or attorney who personifies the highest standards of professionalism and integrity in the field of law.  "Chief Justice Wright has been a shining example of professionalism throughout her long and distinguished career," said Dallas attorney Beverly Godbey, Chair of the Board of Trustees of TCLE. "Not only has she blazed trails and set an example for all who follow in her footsteps, she has done so with elegance, dignity and a firm dedication to the betterment of our profession." 

A graduate of Howard University School of Law, Chief Justice Wright’s judicial service spans over 30 years and includes authorship of thousands of legal opinions on every facet of the law.    She has been honored  by a host of legal and civic organizations, and is a recent inductee into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.

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Judge Susano Receives Outstanding Judge Award 06/19/2017

The Tennessee Bar Association and its Executive Committee have chosen Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr. as the 2017 recipient of the Justice Frank F. Drowota, III Outstanding Judicial Service Award. This award is given to a judge or judicial branch official of a federal, state or local court in Tennessee who has demonstrated extraordinary devotion and dedication to the improvement of the law, our legal system, and the administration of justice as exemplified by the career of Justice Frank F. Drowota, III.

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California Presiding Justice Paul Turner Dies 05/24/2017

Paul Turner, Presiding Justice of  Division 5 of the Second District of California’s Court of Appeal, passed away on May 18, 2017 at the age of 69 following almost 35  years on the bench,  28 of which were served on the Court of Appeal, almost all as Presiding Justice.   Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye remarked on his passing:  “He was a force of nature in his approach to the law, his work ethic, with a real zest for life. I will always remember his razor wit, his collegiality, and his optimism.”  His service on the court of appeal was applauded by a host of colleagues and appellate attorneys.

Read other tributes at:

Lynn Kuderka Appointed New Association Manger For Chief Judges 04/21/2017

Lynn Kuderka has been appointed as the Association Manager for the Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal, the position most recently held by Tiffany Mitchell and, before her, long-time Association Manager, Brenda Williams.  Tiffany recently resigned to accept a new position more accommodating to her status as the mother of a newly born child.  Lynn will assume her new position on May 1, 2017.

Lynn has worked for the NCSC’s Institute for Court Management Division since 2011.  Before coming to NCSC, Lynn managed the undergraduate Fulbright grant application process for Princeton University.  Her extensive background and experience coordinating events and supporting the Dean of the college uniquely prepares Lynn to move into the CCJSCA Association Management position.  Lynn can be reached  at .  She assumes her position just in time to join the Executive Committee in San Antonio and will be introduced to the general membership at the Annual Meeting in Lexington.    Please  contact her for any support or information you may need.

Former Florida Chief C.Alan Lawson Joins Florida Supreme Court 04/10/2017

C. Alan Lawson,  a graduate of Florida State University Law School and formerly Chief Judge of Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal, was formally sworn in as a justice on Florida’s Supreme Court  on April 5, 2017.  He was Governor Rick Scott’s first appointee and the news media have portrayed him as a conservative on a court dominated by liberals.   Politics notwithstanding, Lawson  is well liked and has been lauded by  judges of all persuasions including a “liberal” colleague, Barbara Pariente who called him “kind, collegial, open minded and humble.”  

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C.J.Linda McGee, Ex-Homecoming Queen, Returns To Her Roots 04/06/2017

As a student at Marion High School, Chief Judge Linda McGee served on the news staff for the school's newspaper.  She was also crowned Homecoming Queen in 1965 for Marion High School.   Chief Judge Linda McGee, 67, formerly of Marion, serves on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. She has been on the court for 22 years, and is only the second woman to have served as chief. Before that, she practiced law in Boone for 17 years after earning her degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  McGee now commutes to Raleigh and other places where courts are held from her home at the Outer Banks, where she lives with her husband and their dogs. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and their 21-month-old grandson.  But no matter how far she has come, she is still a proud product of her small-town upbringing in McDowell County, where much of her passion for the law began. She grew up in the mill villages of East Marion. Her mother retired after 50 years at the American Thread Company.    Developing  a strong community of professional women has always been a priority in her life. She is one of the co-founders of the N.C. Association of Women Attorneys. She has received numerous accolades and awards, and served on boards supporting women across the state.  McGee’s husband and two sons were supportive, and in 1995 she was appointed by Hunt, then elected to an eight-year term in 1996, and re-elected in 2004. In 2014, she was named chief judge.

Her thoughts on the Court of Appeals and recollections from her life are set forth in a recent newspaper interview:

GOP Proposal to Reduce Size of North Carolina Court of Appeals 03/15/2017



Three bills in the North Carolina legislature would block or rescind judicial appointments by Democratic Governor  Roy Cooper.  All three bills were approved on party lines, 7-6, morning with little debate and less public comment by the House Judiciary IV Committee.   House Bill 239 would reduce the size of the state Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12. The reductions would come as judges retire.   Under current law, Cooper would appoint replacements to serve the remainders of their terms. With the change, Cooper will not be able to make any appointments.   The panel also approved legislation to  take away the governor’s power to appoint judges to fill the   vacancies on the District Court , and to appoint special Superior Court judges.   Instead, all of those appointments would be made by state lawmakers in the annual appointments bill.

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Texas Women Lawyers Honor Chief Justice Carolyn Wright 03/06/2017

The Honorable Carolyn Wright, Chief Justice of the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas has been honored with the 2017 Texas Women Lawyers Pathfinder Award.    The Pathfinder Award is given each year to an individual who has championed the advancement of women in the law and who exemplifies professionalism, leadership, and commitment to the public interest.  A Texas judge for more than 30 years with civil, family, criminal, and mediation experience, Chief Justice Wright served as a practicing attorney, Dallas County associate judge, and state district judge before being appointed as a Justice on the Court of Appeals by Governor George W. Bush in 1995.  She was the first African American to be appointed a Chief Justice of a Texas intermediate appellate court and the first woman to win a multi-county election for any state elected office.  She leads the largest intermediate court in Texas and one of the busiest courts in the nation. She is a recent inductee into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame and Governor Bush presented her with the Yellow Rose of Texas Award for significant contributions to her community.

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Iowa Court of Appeals Celebrates Forty Years 01/23/2017

Forty years ago this month, the newly formed Iowa Court of Appeals heard oral arguments and issued opinions for the first time. The Iowa Legislature created the five-member court to ease the overcrowded Iowa Supreme Court docket. At the time, it was taking about two years for the supreme court to process appeals.  In September, 1976, then Iowa Governor, Robert D. Ray, appointed the first five judges to the court.  The court of appeals first heard oral arguments January 17, 1977. Then, on January 28, 1977, the court filed its first set of opinions. In 1983, the Iowa Legislature expanded the court of appeals to six members. At that time, the court began to hear and decide cases in three-judge panels but continued to conference all cases as a group, or en banc. In 1999, the court was again expanded to its current structure of nine judges meeting in panels of three. The conferencing of all cases en banc was discontinued except in limited circumstances.

The current court is presided over by  Chief Judge David Danilson.  The  court reviews all civil and criminal actions, postconviction remedy proceedings, and small claims actions transferred to it by the supreme court. In its first year the court of appeals filed 327 opinions. The number of cases transferred to the court of appeals has steadily increased and, in 2016, the court filed 1,390 opinions, the largest number in its forty-year history. On average each judge authored over 140 opinions. A decision of the court of appeals is final unless the supreme court grants further review.

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Florida Judge Jay Cohen selected to replace Justice Alan Lawson 01/03/2017

Jay P. Cohen,  a judge on the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal,  has been selected to serve as Chief Judge of the court.    He replaces Chief  Judge C. Alan Lawson who was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court.  Judge Cohen was appointed to the court by  Governor Charlie Crist in January 2008 and retained by voters in 2010 and 2016.  His current term expires in 2023. Cohen earned his B.A. in English in 1974 from the University of Florida and his J.D. in 1978 from the University of Florida College of Law.   He  began his legal career in Sarasota County and then served as a prosecutor in Orlando from 1980 to 1982, when he entered private practice. In 1990, Republican Governor Bob Martinez appointed Cohen to the county court bench.  He was appointed to the circuit court by Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles in 1993, where he served in the domestic relations, juvenile, criminal, and civil divisions until his 2008 appointment to the Fifth District Court of Appeal.

Chief Judge C.Alan Lawson Selected For Florida Supreme Court 01/03/2017


Charles Alan Lawson, chief judge of Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal (seen here with Florida Governor Scott)  has been selected to replace Justice James Perry on the Florida Supreme Court.   Lawson  was one of  three finalists recommended by the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Committee.   Perry, 72, who is retiring because of constitutionally mandated age limits. was considered to be part of a trio of liberal-leaning justices on the court.   The candidates recommended to Scott all said they would have a more conservative approach on the bench.  Scott was required to choose a justice from the 5th District Court of Appeals, which includes 13 counties, mostly in central Florida but also St. Johns, Flagler and Putnam.

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Florida Chief Judge C.Alan Lawson Finalist For Florida Supreme Court 12/12/2016

The Chief Judge of Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal is one of only  three persons nominated  by the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission for appointment by the Governor.  The Commission interviewed eleven candidates.  The Governor must select from the three persons nominated.  Lawson graduated from Florida State University Law School in 1987 with highest honors. He was a Jeb Bush appointee to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in 2006; a circuit judge in the Ninth Circuit, 2002 - 2005; assistant county attorney for Orange County, 1997 - 2001; general counsel, Verses Wear, Inc., 1996; and associate & partner, Steel Hector & Davis, Miami and Tallahassee, 1987 - 1995.

Karen Arnold-Burger Selected Chief Judge of Kansas Court of Appeals 12/09/2016

The Kansas Supreme Court selected Judge Karen Arnold-Burger to serve as chief judge of the 14-member state appeals court beginning January 9. She succeeds Chief Judge Thomas J. Malone, who will continue to serve on the appeals court after his four-year term as chief judge ends. "The Supreme Court is pleased that Judge Arnold-Burger will assume this leadership position for the Court of Appeals," said Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. "She's a skilled judge with a record of many professional accomplishments. We look forward to working with her in this new capacity." Before she was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2011, Arnold-Burger was a municipal court judge and then presiding municipal court judge in Overland Park, Assistant U.S. Attorney in Kansas City, Kansas, and First Assistant City Attorney for the City of Overland Park. She is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law, where she previously served on the Board of Governors.

Former Georgia Chief Judge Herbert Phipps Prepares to Retire 11/23/2016

Georgia Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Herbert Phipps, its former chief judge, will leave office at the end of November, one month before he reaches the state-mandated retirement age of 75. Gov. Nathan Deal's announcement of a successor is imminent.  The graduate of  Morehouse College, and Case Western Reserve University  Law School,  who also holds a   Master of Laws degree from the University of Virginia School of Law,  was  applauded for his years of judicial service:

"His leaving is going to be a huge loss for this court. He is irreplaceable," said Chief Judge Sara Doyle. "There isn't going to be somebody who has experienced all that he has."

"His life is the American story in one person," said Judge Nels Peterson, who spent his first year on the court serving on a panel with Phipps presiding, placed there by the chief judge to benefit from that experience.

Judge Stephen Dillard, who will succeed Doyle as chief judge next year, added:  "Judge Phipps is a once-in-a-generation jurist, and he will leave an indelible mark on our court and the state.  He has been (and will continue to be) a champion for civil rights, the rule of law and the common good, and I will miss him more than I can express in words."

Phipps practiced law in Albany, Georgia,  and  served as a magistrate and juvenile court judge in Albany until 1995, when Gov. Zell Miller appointed him to the Dougherty County Superior Court bench.  He was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1999.

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Rita Gruber Appointed Chief Judge of Arkansas Appeals Court 11/23/2016

Court of Appeals Judge Rita Gruber of North Little Rock  has been appointed  to serve a four-year term as chief judge of her court  effective January 1.    Outgoing Supreme Court Chief Justice Howard Brill and his successor, Chief Justice-elect Dan Kemp, announced the appointment in a joint statement.    Kemp said he suggested that Brill select Gruber, and the two decided to issue a joint news release. Kemp said he has known Gruber for 25 years.   "I'm well familiar with her judicial abilities as well as her administrative talents," Kemp said. "I think she'll do an outstanding job."

Gruber replaces  Chief Judge Robert Gladwin, who has served as Chief Judge  since 2012. Gladwin  will continue to serve as one of the court's 12 judges.  Gruber was selected by the Pulaski County justices of the peace to serve as interim county judge in 1989, when both she and her husband, Wayne Gruber, worked as Quorum Court attorneys. She served in the role until 1991.  She later served as a circuit judge in the 6th Judicial Circuit before being elected to the Court of Appeals in 2008.

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Kansas Judges Survive Challenge by Abortion Opponents 11/09/2016



Abortion opponents campaigned to  oust Kansas Supreme Court justices and  four state Court of Appeals judges in Tuesday's election over a ruling that critics fear could endanger many abortion restrictions.  Kansans for Life   included the Court of Appeals judges in mailings to thousands of households. Other conservatives joined in  the ouster effort, though it  received much less attention than the campaign against Supreme Court justices.  All of the challenged judges were re-elected.

Mixed Election Results For Appellate Judges in Kentucky, Ohio , New Mexico 11/09/2016


Court of Appeal Judges  had mixed results in races held in Kentucky, Ohio and New Mexico.  Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Larry VanMeter easily defeated fellow Judge Glenn Acree (both pictured above), a member of the Council of Chief Judges , in the contest for an open  Kentucky Supreme Court seat.   Republicans Pat DeWine   and Pat Fischer, who practiced with the same Ohio  law firm and later served together  on the First District Court  of Appeal in Ohio, appeared to win election to separate seats on the Ohio Supreme Court.    In New Mexico, former court of appeal  judge Judith Nakamura won election as an incumbent on the New Mexico Supreme Court, defeating  Michael Vigil,  Chief Judge of the New Mexico Court of Appeals,  while attorney Julie Vargas defeated Stephen French, an incumbent on the court of appeal,  who had only recently been appointed to that court.

The Appellate Court Innovation e-catalog is now available! 11/07/2016


The National Center For State Courts has worked with the Council of Chief Judges and a collaboration of state appellate groups,  including the Conference of Chief Justices,  to develop an  electronic catalog of innovative practices and technological applications for use by state appellate courts.  See details in the Learning Center.

Judge Nancy Vaidik Re-elected Chief Judge Indiana Court of Appeals 10/27/2016

The 15 judges of the Indiana Court of Appeals have elected Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik, of Valparaiso, to a second three-year term as their leader.  Vaidik was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2000 by Democratic Gov. Frank O'Bannon.  She has been retained twice for 10-year terms in 2002 and  2012.  The Valparaiso University and Valparaiso School of Law graduate worked in private practice, served as chief deputy prosecutor and later trial court judge in Porter County before joining the Court of Appeals.  Vaidik has said she views the Court of Appeals existing "at the intersection of theoretical and practical law," and believes the court must "embody the highest degree of fairness and impartiality" by ensuring all litigants have the finest possible legal advocates.   She strives to craft legal writing that is "distinguished by logical construction and clear, explanatory prose."

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Chief Justice Wright Acts To Remove Impaired Colleague 10/27/2016

Texas  5th Court of Appeals Chief Justice Carolyn Wright recently acted to address problems with an associate justice’s  depression and alcohol abuse.  Wright’ssworn affidavit raising concerns about the fitness of Judge Davis Lewis to hold office led The State Commission on Judicial Conduct file a removal action   Lewis resigned and  agreed to never serve as a judge again. He had spent  almost a year on unpaid leave and had not performed duties  since September 2014.    The affidavit  alleged that he was physically and mentally unfit to do the job, that he failed to treat the other justices and court staff in a “courteous manner,” that he improperly delegated judicial decision-making to court staff and that he failed to perform the duties of the office which caused a delay in judicial decisions.

For more about dealing with judges in distress, see the New Chiefs Toolbox

John Irwin Announces Retirement 09/19/2016

Nebraska Court of Appeals Judge, John F. Irwin, has announced his intention to retire on November 1, 2016.  Writing to the Governor, Irwin stated:  “I have enjoyed my 24 years on the court immensely and have had great satisfaction in taking on the challenges given to me as one of the original members of the Court of Appeals.” Irwin was appointed in 1991 when the Court of Appeals was first formed.  He served as Chief Judge of the court from 1998-2004. According to Chief Court of Appeals Judge Frankie Moore, “As a member of the Court of Appeals since its inception, Judge Irwin has been instrumental in establishing a court culture aimed at serving the citizens of our state through the timely rendering of well-reasoned decisions. He has worked tirelessly to improve our court processes to make the appellate system of justice both efficient and transparent for the parties and public.   Irwin has been a prominent figure in Nebraska legal circles throughout his legal  career and advanced the cause of the judiciary and access to justice as a member of the Court of Appeals and as the National Chair of the 2012 Annual Conference of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts .  He has been a  mainstay in the Council of Chief Judges, serving as president of the Council in 2004.

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Minnesota Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edward Cleary Reappointed 09/19/2016

Minnesota Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edward Cleary has been appointed to a second term by Gov. Mark Dayton. 

Cleary was appointed to the appeals court in 2011, and in 2013 was appointed as the court’s chief judge. Prior to his appointment to the appeals court, Cleary served as the assistant chief judge for the Second Judicial District where he was appointed by Gov. Jesse Ventura in 2002. 

“Chief Judge Cleary has demonstrated a strong commitment to Minnesota throughout his career and as a member of the judiciary,” said Dayton.

His second term will begin on Nov. 1 and end on Oct. 31, 2019.

Upcoming Georgia Chief Declines Supreme Court Consideration 08/29/2016

Stephen Dillard, in line to become Chief Judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals, announced on Twitter that he will withdraw his name from consideration for one of three open positions on the Georgia Supreme Court.  He wrote that he has decided "after a great deal of prayer and consideration" not to pursue appointment to the high court and to continue his service on the intermediate court—"an institution I dearly love." Dillard has 6,274 followers on Twitter, which he uses to comment on colleagues' birthdays, music, quotes, bedtime stories he reads to his children and landscapes near his home in Macon, where he spends weekends.

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Read his tweet:

Judge Dillard (@JudgeDillard) | Twitter




Gene Thibodeaux Interviewed in Louisiana Bar Journal 08/15/2016

Chief Judge Thibodeaux recalls his graduation from Tulane Law School, time with the Legal Defense Fund in New York and private practice before being elected to a seat on Louisiana’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals where he continues to sit.  He also noted two drastic changes since he began practicing law: the expanded use of technology and the increase in diversity.

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Joy Kramer Elected Chief Judge Kentucky Appellate Court 07/22/2016


Judge Joy A. Kramer   was sworn in  as chief judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals  following election by her colleagues of the court for a  four year term beginning July 1.    Chief Judge Glenn E. Acree  administered the oath in the courtroom of the Court of Appeals building in Frankfort.  A ceremonial oath of office was later administered on July 20 at the U.S. District Courthouse in Covington by her longtime mentor William O. Bertelsman, senior judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.    Judge Kramer graduated magna cum laude from Morehead State University after which she taught special education for seven years before attending  Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law where she again graduated magna cum laude.   She and her husband, Brian Kramer, have four children and six grandchildren.


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Pfeiffer elected Chief Judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 07/22/2016


The eleven judges of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District have elected Mark D. Pfeiffer to a two year term  as chief judge effective July 1, 2016.  Pfeiffer was appointed to the Western District in May 2009 after receiving a  degree in accounting from Westminster College in Fulton and a law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia,  and following 17 years of private practice.  He was appointed    by Governor Jay Nixon

Lockemy Selected Chief Judge of South Carolina Court of Appeals 06/22/2016

The South Carolina General Assembly, with bipartisan support,  chose Judge James E. Lockemy as only the fifth Chief Judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals.      The Court  was created by statute in 1983 and later was included in the  state constitution.  It consists of a Chief Judge and eight associate judges.   A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and the University of South Carolina Law School,  Lockemy  served as an Army Airborne officer after graduating from law school, and then worked  as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond before entering private practice.  He was elected as a Circuit Judge in 1989.   After 18 years on the circuit bench, Lockemy was elected to the Court of Appeals in 2008.  Since 1995 he has been one of the representatives of the state judiciary to the ABA Conference of State Trial Judges.  He serves as  a Colonel in the South Carolina National Guard and is  currently is working to complete his Master's Degree in Judicial Studies from the University of Nevada, National Judicial College.   

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Tom Emberton Inducted Into Western Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni. 06/22/2016


Judge Tom Emberton, Sr, a retired chief judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals,  will be inducted into Western Kentucky University’s 25th class of the Hall of Distinguished Alumni on Oct. 21 during the 2016 Homecoming celebration.  Emberton, a 1958 WKU graduate,  came to WKU after four years with the United States Air Force.   He was elected president of his class two years in a row and president of his fraternity, the Thirteeners, later renamed Delta Tau Delta. He was also business manager of the College Heights Herald.  In 1959, he attended the University of Louisville School of Law before being admitted to the Kentucky Bar in 1962. Early in his career, Emberton practiced law in Metcalfe County before he was recruited as executive assistant to Gov. Louie B. Nunn. In 1987, he was appointed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals by Gov. Wallace Wilkinson. He was re-elected twice and in 2002 as chief judge of the Court of Appeals.

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Sergio A. Gutierrez Loses Idaho Supreme Court Bid 06/22/2016

Sergio A. Gutierrez , former Chief Judge of  the Idaho Court of Appeals, came in third out of five candidates for the elected position on the Idaho Supreme Court.   Gutierrez was defeated by Robyn Brody and Curt McKenzie.   He was appointed to the Court of Appeal  by former Republican Governor Dirk Kempthorne in January 2002 and was sworn into office in February 2002. Gutierrez was most recently re-elected to the court in May 2014 for a term that expires in January 2021.

Minnesota Court of Appeals Chief Finalist for Supreme Court 06/03/2016


Chief Judge Edward  Cleary  is one of three candidates  whose names were forwarded to Governor Mark Dayton on June 2, 2016,  by  the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection.  Dayton is not obliged to choose from the Commission’s list though he has typically done so.    After serving as the Director for the Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, Cleary was appointed to the Ramsey County District Court in 2002.   He was appointed by Governor Dayton to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 2009 and appointed Chief Judge in 2013.

Dayton’s office said he would make his selection after interviewing the finalists over the next few weeks.

Retired Chief of Massachusetts Appeals Court Honored 05/06/2016

Phillip Rapoza, who retired as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts  Appeals Court in 2015, was honored on May 4  by the Massachusetts Bar Association for his work on the international judicial stage.  He received the 2016 Daniel F. Toomey Excellence in the Judiciary Award in ceremonies at the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel.    Honored with him was Boston Herald reporter Bob McGovern, who received the Excellence in Legal Journalism Award. "While leading the Appeals Court, Chief Justice Rapoza ushered in an era of openness and transparency by expanding its sessions to the four corners of the commonwealth," said MBA Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy.  "As a true missionary for justice and the rule of law, Rapoza selflessly took on international criminal justice work in developing countries on behalf of the United Nations. In short, he has created an impressive legacy both here and beyond our borders," Healy said.

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Former Utah Presiding Judge James Davis Passes 04/26/2016


Former Utah Court of Appeals Presiding Judge James Z. Davis died on February 27 at the age of 72.   Judge Davis was appointed to the Utah Court of Appeals in November 1993. He served two terms as Presiding Judge and retired in November 2015.  He received his law degree from the University of Utah College of Law in 1968. He served in military intelligence in the U.S. Army until 1970. Judge Davis was in private practice from 1971 to 1977, served as Deputy Weber County Attorney and Weber County Police Legal Advisor from 1973 to 1982, was a partner in Thatcher, Glasmann & Davis from 1977 to 1982, and a shareholder and director at Ray, Quinney & Nebeker from 1982 until his appointment to the bench. Judge Davis was president of the Utah State Bar from 1991 to 1992, served as Bar representative on the Utah Judicial Council, and was also selected by the court of appeals on three occasions to serve as that court’s representative on the Utah Judicial Council.  In 2014, Judge Davis received the Lifetime Service Award from the Utah State Bar.   Davis is survived by his son, James Z. Davis III; daughter-in-law, Chrystal; granddaughter, Macey; Carr; and Carr's daughter, Annie. 

Judge Davis  was a member of the Council’s Membership  and Administration of Justice Committees.    A  resolution,  approved by the Council’s Executive Committee and signed by President William Palmer, recalled that Judge Davis  “was a great judge and friend with a wry sense of humor and zest for life,” and that he “personified grace and enthusiasm with his hard work and sharp legal mind, leaving a legacy of true and lasting friendships.”   The resolution also expressed the Council’s condolences to his family , and "our thanks for sharing him with us and with the Law."


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Sergio Gutierrez Runs For Idaho Supreme Court 04/21/2016

Hon. Sergio Gutierrez, a former Chief Judge of the Idaho Court of Appeals who has over 20 years of judicial experience, hopes to become a justice on the Idaho Supreme Court .  Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Jones announced in March that he would not seek re-election.  Three attorneys thereafter announced their candidacies.   Judge Gutierrez is the only judge in the race.    Gutierrez   was born in Mexico, raised in poverty  in California and New Mexico , and dropped out of school at the age of 16.  He later entered community college after earning his GED, and went on to graduate  from the University of California Hastings College of Law.  Idaho is one of only two states without a woman or racial minority on its Supreme Court.   The election of Judge Gutierrez would change that.  The primary election is on May 17.  Should no contender receive a majority vote, a runoff would take place in November. 


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New Mexico Court of Appeals Marks 50 Year Anniversary 04/06/2016

April 1, 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the creation of the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

Prompted by the state Supreme Court’s growing case load, the state legislature proposed and the voters approved a constitutional amendment creating the court in 1965.  The court conducted its first oral argument in December 1966, and its first opinion was filed on Dec. 12, 1966.  Fifty years after the first appeal was filed with the court, appeal number 35,450 was just docketed.  Since 1966, 42 judges have served on the court. Of those 42, 10 have been women.  The jurisdiction of the court was initially limited.  The range of cases heard by the Court has steadily increased and the court has developed innovative methods to deal with its burgeoning case load.  It pioneered the use of recorded trial proceedings in lieu of typed transcripts,  developed a  summary calendar system for  cases that  it believes can be resolved without full briefing.   Nationally acclaimed, the system now accounts for almost 60 percent of the court’s decisions.  A significant percentage of the court’s cases are also resolved through its in-house mediation program.

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JoAnne Kloppenburg Loses Wisconsin Supreme Court Race 04/06/2016

The incumbent, Rebecca Bradley,  was appointed to the court by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in October to replace the late N. Patrick Crooks. Kloppenburg is a presiding judge on the state court of appeals.  Bradley  will serve a 10-year term.  "We did all that we set out to do," Kloppenburg told supporters as she conceded the race, "except for the 'coming out ahead' part."  As has been the case in recent Supreme Court races, conservative groups are supporting one candidate and liberal groups are supporting the other.  Bradley was the conservatives' candidate. Walker also appointed Bradley to the Milwaukee County Court in 2012 and to the District I Court of Appeals in May.

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President Palmer's Trip To Cuba 03/23/2016

President Obama  traveled to Cuba recently.  Our president went there before him for a humanitarian purpose.  Here is a picture (yes, it's tiny)  of President Bill Palmer in Cuba last year with his mission team from Florida’s Tomoka Christian Church, including the Cuban pastors who worked with them.   President  Palmer’s mission team distributed beans and rice to the poor while they were in Cuba.

Council Member, Judge Matthew Stevenson Retiring 03/23/2016

“It’s been a great job,” he said. “It’s been one of the highest privileges and honors of my life. It’s hard to walk away from.  But there’s a lot of things I’d like to do.”

Chief Judge Cory Ciklin called Stevenson “the patriarch” of the appeals court that hears cases out of six counties, including Palm Beach, Broward and Martin. While Judge Martha Warner has served longer, Stevenson earned the moniker because of his demeanor.

“He’s rock steady. He’s always prepared. He’s objective to a fault,” Ciklin said. “He’s universally respected by the other judges.”

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Kloppenburg in runoff for Wisconsin Supreme Court 02/23/2016

Presiding Judge Kloppenburg  of District IV of the Wisconsin Court of appeals survived the primary and will face a sitting  Supreme Court Justice ,Rebecca Bradley, in the April General Election.  Kloppenburg has served on the  Court of Appeals  since 2012 following 22 years of service  as an Assistant Attorney General with the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office.  The Wisconsin Court of Appeals  has 16  judges divided among four districts.  The presiding judges of each district are appointed by the chief judge of the Court of Appeals who is appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.   Court of appeal judges are elected to six year terms. 

Council member Michael Talbot removes himself from Flint claims proceeding 02/23/2016

Chief Judge Michael Talbot of the Michigan Court of Appeals has removed himself  as the  judge in a proceeding before the Michigan Court of Claims.  Flint residents are suing Gov. Rick Snyder, Michigan’s departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services, and two former Flint emergency managers for decisions that led to the city’s drinking water contamination problems.

Explaining his decision in the controversial case, Judge Talbot said:   “Out of concern based on media reports and other filings with this Court that a large volume of claims might be filed from the occurrence underlying this matter, the Court peremptorily reassigned the case as an exercise in case management,” But, according to Judge Talbot:  “To date, the concern of multiple filings has not materialized and the Court is persuaded that the specialized case management steps taken initially are not warranted.”

The Court of Claims is a court of statewide, limited jurisdiction established  to hear and determine all civil actions filed against the State of Michigan and its agencies.  Judges on the Court of Appeals with extensive trial experience are assigned to sit on the Court of Claims.

Judge Jerry Goodman named Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals Chief Judge 02/23/2016

Judge Goodman  succeeds Judge Bill Hetherington of Oklahoma City, who held the chief judge position in 2015.   Goodman said that during his one year  term of office he will vigorously defend Oklahoma’s court system as it exists today.  There is a small group in the legislature that wants to politicize the judiciary, he said.

“They want to return to the election of judges, having them declare whether they are Democrat or Republican, run to get their party’s nomination in a primary election, then run against the opposing party’s candidate in the general election.  That means a judicial candidate first must charm members of his or her political party to get the nomination, then convince everyone they are the best candidate in the general election.  That begs the question whether people want someone who is popular serving as judges and bending to the whims of the people or whether they want someone who knows the law and will serve everyone, making decisions according to the U.S. and Oklahoma Constitutions.”

Goodman said he is looking forward to the challenges.  Topping the list is finding ways to make the appellate process more cost efficient during the tight budget restraints facing state government.  “We will be working with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the administrative offices of the court, the Judicial Conference and all courts to apply these efficiencies,” he said. “We are going to do our part to become as efficient as we can be.”

Nevada Court of Appeals Up and Running - Doing Well 02/23/2016

The Annual Report of the Nevada Judiciary says in just its first six months, the newly created intermediate  Nevada Appeals Court has made a significant difference. The 52 page report says in the fiscal year ending June 30, the backlog of cases pending before the Supreme Court fell from 1,985 to 1,543. “The decrease in the Supreme Court’s pending caseload was due in large part to the 500 cases transferred to the state’s newly-formed three-judge Court of Appeals,” said Chief Justice Jim Hardesty in the report.  Of those transferred cases, the annual report says the Appeals Court resolved 304, leaving 196 cases pending there as of June 30.

Pointing out that’s in just the Appeals Court’s first six months of operation, Hardesty said he expects the backlog will continue to decrease next year and beyond.  Creation of the Court of Appeals was approved by voters in November 2014. The three initial judges, Chief Judge Michael Gibbons (pictured above)  and Judges Abbi Silver and Jerome Tao, were named and started work in January. They ruled on their first case just a couple of weeks later, upholding a district court jury verdict and sentence in an attempted murder case.

The way the system works, all appeals are still filed with the Supreme Court which, then, refers some cases down to the Court of Appeals. Hardesty said during the push to have voters approve the intermediate court the high court would then have more time to focus on constitutional issues and precedent setting cases as well as more time to write authored opinions on those weighty issues. The number of authored opinions, however, didn’t increase. Instead, that number fell from 105 in 2014 to 87 in 2015, according to the report.

 The report is available on the Supreme Court website at

Council member John Few selected for South Carolina Supreme Court 01/28/2016

The South Carolina Legislature elected Court of Appeals Chief Judge John C. Few as the newest associate justice on the state Supreme Court.   A judge since 2010, Few  fills the seat left vacant when former Chief Justice Jean Toal retired last year.   Few beat out Court of Appeals Judge H. Bruce Williams on a 92-73 vote to join the five-member panel of judges. Administrative Law Court Judge Ralph King “Tripp” Anderson III bowed out of the race less than an hour before the voting was scheduled to begin at noon on February 3.

Judge Michael Swiney to head the Tennessee Court of Appeals 01/28/2016

The selection follows a vote by the court’s 12 members. He replaces  former Chief Judge Charles D. Susano Jr., also of Knoxville, who stepped down from the leadership post on Dec. 31. Susano had served as chief judge for three years. He will remain on the court.  The Court of Appeals handles civil cases. The chief judge is responsible for assigning judges to each appeal, monitoring the pace of the court's decisions and handling administrative duties.  Swiney was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1999 by then-Gov. Don Sundquist and has been elected via a retention vote three times since then. He is a graduate of the University Of Tennessee College Of Law, where he served as an adjunct professor from 1997 to 2006. He also had a private practice in Knoxville from 1979 to his appointment to the appellate court in 1999.   He will serve a one-year term as chief judge.

Frankie Moore Honored as 2015 Distinguished Judge 01/13/2016


Chief Judge Frankie Moore  of the Nebraska Court of Appeals was honored as  the 2015 Nebraska Supreme Court’s Distinguished Judge for Service to the Community.  Moore has been the judge of the 6th Appellate Court Judicial District since 2000. She was appointed Chief Judge in 2014.  She is also the chair of the Supreme Court’s committee on self-represented litigation, which has members from across the state and across the legal spectrum.   Moore was nominated for the award by Legal Aid of Nebraska.  Many judges from District 6 were present to see her receive the award from the Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Lisa Hardwick to co-chair Missouri Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness 01/13/2016

The Commission, established by the Supreme Court of Missouri,  will focus its study on six areas – the judicial system generally, the civil justice system, the criminal justice system, the juvenile justice system, the municipal justice system and the practice of law.  According to Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge,  the aim is to identify solutions and make recommendations for improvement.  The  Commission co-chairs,  in addition tp Judge Lisa White Hardwick, a former chief judge  of the Missouri Court of Appeals,  are William R. Bay, a partner at Thompson Coburn; and Michael A. Middleton, deputy chancellor emeritus of the University of Missouri – Columbia.

Bill Murphy Receives NCSC Distinguished Service Award 10/21/2015

Congratulations to Bill Murphy of Michigan!  The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has awarded Bill its 2015 Distinguished Service Award, one of the organization's highest awards.  

Florida Judge William D. Palmer named president of CCJSCA 10/14/2015

Judge William D. Palmer of the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach has been elected president of the Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal (CCJSCA), a national association dedicated to improving the administration of justice in state appellate courts. He will serve a one-year term, which became effective last week during the conference’s 36th annual meeting in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Read the full press release.

Don’t miss the session on the First Amendment with Erwin Chemerinsky! 09/11/2015

Don’t miss a thought-provoking session at this year’s annual conference on the First Amendment with nationally acclaimed Erwin Chemerinsky!

Roy L. Richter Appointed to Ferguson Municipal Div 03/18/2015

We want to congratulate our colleague Roy L. Richter, who was appointed by Missouri's Chief Justice to take over operation of the Ferguson municipal court division.  As Chief Justice Mary R. Russell noted in the attached press release, Roy has the daunting task of restoring "public trust and confidence" in court operations in that troubled city.  We wish Roy well! 

Just Released: Time Standards for Appellate Courts 10/31/2014

A report adopting Model Time Standards for State Appellate Courts was released by the Conference of Chief Justices, the Conference of State Court Administrators and the National Center for State Courts in August.   Click here to see a copy of the full report.

NCSC Chooses Gary Lynch for Board 06/25/2014

Congratulations to Immediate Past-President Gary Lynch, who has just been elected to a three-year term on the National Center for State Courts Board of Directors.  His term will begin on August 1, 2014.  His colleagues in CCJSCA know his energetic, innovative leadership will be an asset to the NCSC Board. We look forward to hearing about his good work in promoting the administration of justice throughout the United States and beyond.

Chief Brief Needs You! 03/19/2014

Have you ever wanted a say in how the Council activities or initiatives are promoted or communicated?  Maybe you have thought, "I'd like a shot at writing that article."  Or, "I can do better than THAT!" 

Well, does the Newsletter Committee have an opportunity for you!  Join us.  Drop our current chair an email and let him know you're interested: Carmen Messano -

Chief Murphy & CCJ Recognized! 01/27/2014

The Michigan statewide newsletter Grand Rapids Legal News has published a glowing but well-deserved article about long-time CCJ member and current treasurer Chief Bill Murphy, along with some excellent information about the Council. Read it here:

Executive Committee Releases CCJSCA Desk Manual 01/27/2014

At its meeting following the Annual Conference in St. Louis, the CCJSCA Executive Committee authorized the publication of the first edition of the CCJSCA Desk Manual, completing a project initiated by President Gary Lynch. The Desk Manual, in a PDF format that can be easily downloaded from the Council's website to your computer or tablet, is intended to provide a ready reference for the Council's organizational documents, current committee structure and assignments, and member rosters. It will be updated twice a year at the Executive Committee's semi-annual meetings.  For more details and to download the Desk Manual, simply click on the "Council Business" forum title under "Chiefs Forum" on the right side of the home page and then click on the discussion about the "CCJSCA Desk Manual - November 2, 2013 Edition.

Former CCJSCA officer named VC of Arizona Supreme Court 10/22/2013

On October 15, 2013, the five members of the Arizona Supreme Court announced their regular five-year change in leadership, effective July 1, 2014, after electing Justice Scott Bales Chief Justice and former CCJSCA Vice President, Justice John Pelander, as Vice Chief. Justice Pelander’s new duties will include chairing the Arizona Commission on Technology and sharing many ceremonial duties with the Chief Justice. When congratulated on his "promotion," John said: "I'm very honored and humbled, and I'll do whatever I can to support Scott, advance his agenda, and hopefully keep Arizona's judiciary on the cutting edge." In their spare time, John and wife Mary enjoy hiking, spending time with their four grandchildren, and attending as many U of A football and basketball games as possible. John sends his warmest regards to all his former CCJSCA colleagues, a group he "cherishes and really misses."

Donated iPad to be Given Away at St. Louis Conference 10/17/2013

You could win an iPad at this year's conference! An anonymous donor has contributed a new iPad that will be given away to a conference attendee in a random drawing to be held during the Annual Dinner in St. Louis on Friday evening, November 1. You must be present at the time of the drawing, however, to win and to join in the fun.