Dori Contreras Elected Chief Justice in Texas 01/04/2019

The Texas 13th Court of Appeals welcomed its first woman to be elected Chief Justice. Dori Contreras is a Rio Grande Valley native, PSJA ISD graduate, with 16 years of service on the court. Contreras is now the second Latina statewide elected for this position.

Discussing  the significance of her election, she said.

"One thing that has always been important to me as a lawyer, ultimately when I became a judge is speaking to students at high school and college here at the local university. Talking to them of course of the importance of their education and trying to set a good example for them of someone that's growing up here in the Valley just like them. That through some hard work and dedication we can accomplish goals that you set and pursue dreams, so I try to encourage that. It's important for me to do that specially for young women, young Latinas.”

Contreras says she is proud of the work the court does and is looking forward to making improvements.

Two Wisconsin Appeals Court Judges in Race for Supreme Court. 01/04/2019

Two Wisconsin appeals court judges will face each other in April for a seat on the state Supreme Court.

Brian Hagedorn and Lisa Neubauer — both members of the Waukesha-based District 2 Court of Appeals are vying  to replace retiring  Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

Neubauer filed her paperwork in December and Hagedorn did so just prior to the deadline for getting on the April 2 ballot.

Hagedorn is a former chief legal adviser to outgoing Gov. Scott Walker and was appointed to the appeals court by Walker in 2015.  Neubauer, who has been chief judge of the district since 2015,  has won the backing of Democrats and 150 judges and has hired the same team that helped elect liberal Rebecca Dallet to the Supreme Court in 2018.  Conservatives have a 4-3 majority on the court. The April election could keep that balance in place or widen conservative control to 5-2.

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Kenny Griffis Appointed to Mississippi Supreme Court 12/28/2018

Gov. Phil Bryant has selected Court of Appeals Judge Kenny Griffis of Ridgeland to replace William Waller Jr. on the Mississippi Supreme Court.  Waller has announced that he is retiring Jan. 31.  Under Mississippi  law, the Supreme Court justice with the longest tenure assumes the post of chief justice – and  head of the entire state judiciary.  When Waller retires, Southern District Justice Michael Randolph of Hattiesburg will assume the post of chief justice.  The chief justice of the Supreme Court appoints the chief judge of the 10 member Court of Appeals.  Griffis was scheduled to be sworn as chief judge in January, replacing Court of Appeals Chief Judge L. Joseph Lee upon his retirement.   Governor Bryant also announced he is naming state Rep. Cory Wilson, R-Madison, to fill Griffis’ seat on the Court of Appeals.

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Marla Graff Decker elected chief judge of Virginia Court of Appeals 12/28/2018

Judge Marla Graff Decker has been elected chief judge-elect of the Virginia Court of Appeals to succeed Chief Judge Glen A. Huff. She will begin her four-year term on Jan. 1. Decker was elected by a majority of the court’s judges on Nov. 27. She was appointed to the state Court of Appeals on Nov. 1, 2013, and elected by the Virginia General Assembly to an eight-year term in January 2014.

Judge Decker began her legal career in 1983 in the Criminal Litigation Section of the Office of the Attorney General, handling criminal appeals and habeas corpus litigation.  She later served as section chief of the Special Prosecutions Section and then as deputy attorney general of the Public Safety and Enforcement Division.   Immediately prior to assuming the bench Decker served as Virginia’s secretary of public safety.  Decker received her undergraduate degree from Gettysburg College and her Juris Doctor from the University of Richmond School of Law, where she presently serves as an evening adjunct professor.

The state’s Court of Appeals has 11 judges. It provides appellate review of final decisions by circuit courts in domestic relations matters, as well as appeals related to decisions of administrative agencies, traffic infractions and non-capital criminal cases as well as  final decisions of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.

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Felicia Williams Named Chief Judge Louisiana Second Circuit 12/03/2018

Judge Felicia Toney Williams has been sworn in as chief judge of Louisiana’s Second Circuit Court of Appeal.  In 1992  Judge Williams became the first woman elected to the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal, and now becomes the Circuit’s first female chief judge.  Williams has served four years on the Louisiana Judiciary Commission, including serving as its chair this year.   She also completed a term as chairman of the Louisiana Conference of Court of Appeal Judges this year.  She is married to Attorney Moses J. Williams and they have three children, Rhonda, Myra and Justin.  The Second Circuit, one of the five state appeals courts in Louisiana, serves 20 parishes: Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, DeSoto, East Carroll, Franklin, Jackson, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Red River, Richland, Tensas, Union, Webster, West Carroll and Winn.

Art Scotland Presented With Christenson Award in Washington D.C. 12/03/2018

Seen here with Justice Clarence Thomas and Michael Schwartz, Dean of the University of the Pacific McGeoge Law School, Scotland received the Inn of Court's highest award during a ceremony at the United States Supreme Court.  Scotland, the former presiding justice of the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, retired from the court after 21 years to become  Of Counsel to the law firm of Nielsen Merksamer where he specializes in government law.  He had previously served on the Sacramento Superior Court and served as Cabinet Secretary to Governor George Deukmejian as California Deputy Attorney General and Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney.  He graduated with honors from the  McGeorge School of Law in 1974 and was elected to serve on the university’s board of regents.

 Scotland has been a leader in the American Inns of Court for decades.  An Emeritus member of the Anthony M. Kennedy American Inn of Court, he has been on the Inn’s executive committee for more than 20 years, chairs the membership committee, and served as a master of ceremonies at the Inn’s 30th anniversary celebration.  As a member of the American Inns of Court Judicial Task Force, Scotland helped to identify the benefits and challenges of judicial participation in Inns and proposed a strategy and techniques for recruiting and retaining judges as Inn members.  For years, Scotland has organized and hosted a visit to Sacramento for British barristers as part of the Pegasus Scholarship Trust exchange program between the United States and the United Kingdom.  He speaks frequently to Inn and student groups about civility in public and professional discourse. He is a former president of the Council of Chief Judges and was inducted into  the Council's Hall of Fame.

Incumbents Ousted in Texas Judicial Races 11/09/2018

Partisan judicial races can lead to partisan outcomes but few expected the dramatic defeat of 19 incumbent Republican appellate judges in Texas.


The turnabout in Democratic party fortunes was centered in the state’s urban, liberal areas, but those areas include neighboring counties whose suburban and rural voters have in recent years delivered wins to Republicans.   Democrats  won by elevating their  victories in the cities and reducing  their margins of defeat in neighboring suburban and rural counties.   Judicial races in Texas like most states are not generally hotly contested.  But straight party line voting aided the victory.  Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado narrowly won the 13th Court of Appeals Place 4 race  after the  Hidalgo County Democratic Party put up billboards urging residents to vote “straight ticket Democrat.”    According to news reports, the party placed signs outside polling sites pushing for the straight ticket option that featured photos of every local Democratic party candidate in a competitive race, with the exception of Delgado, who is under indictment on federal bribery charges.  ( )

 The state’s two highest courts, Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals remain totally Republican

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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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