2001 Executive Committee 
 Meeting
Marathon, Florida


 

AMERICAN JUDGES ASSOCIATION
Executive Committee Meeting  
Marathon, Florida
 

January 12-13, 2001

 

Call to Order.

President Chris Williams called the second Executive Committee (EC) Meeting to order at 9:02 a.m. on Friday January 12, 2001. The following individuals were in attendance: President Chris Williams, Pres. Elect Bonnie Sudderth, First Vice-Pres. Francis Halligan, Second Vice-Pres. Michael McAdam, Sec. Gayle Nachtigal, Tres. Harold Froehlich, Past Pres. Gerald Elliott, Judges Steve Leben, Jeffrey Rosinek, Leslie Johnson ex-officio, and Shelley Rockwell from the National Center for State Courts.

Minutes.

The minutes from the September 10th and 15th meetings were approved without corrections.

Treasurer’s Report.

The meeting in Kansas City appears to have been a financial success.  There may still be one outstanding bill, but there also remain uncollected pledges that more than compensate for the bill.  The outstanding bill is from the hotel for the under booking of the hotel, but so far they have not presented a bill.

The investments are improving.  A final dollar amount for the interest is still being computed.  Court Review is under budget for 2000 as they did not publish one edition, but they are expected to make up the issue this year.  The National Center discounted $8,000.00 off of the contract.  This is a one-time discount and should not be expected each year.  The 2002 contract will be presented at the mid year conference.  There will need to be adjustments to the overall budget to be made at the mid year meeting and the Treasurer will bring those adjustments to the BOG meeting in Hot Springs. 

Approval was given to the President to sign the modified contract with the National Center for State Courts.  

The Treasurers report was accepted as discussed.

Old Business.  

Proposed By-laws revision for the Nominations Committee.  Judges Sudderth and Leben have worked on several changes to the existing provisions.  They wanted to address several areas of concerns.  1.  Length of service, 2.  Ability to appoint a replacement if a committee member does not attend the annual conference, and 3.  Prohibited conduct by committee members. 

It was generally agreed that a member should not serve more than 2 years on the Nominations Committee and that the President should have the authority to appoint someone to fill a vacancy that occurs when a nominations committee member fails to attend the annual meeting.  There followed much discussion about the prohibited conduct and just what we were trying to accomplish.  There was general agreement that committee members should not be pledged to a particular candidate prior to the meeting and that they should not endorse a particular candidate prior to the meeting.  The by-law needs to prohibit a committee member or a candidate from attempting to get or give a pledge or promise to support while still leaving the committee free to solicit candidates if necessary in order to present a slate for the election.  There was discussion about the need for an oath or affirmation from committee members indicating they understand the requirements and they had not and will not violate the provisions.  Although no vote was taken on the subject directly, the need for an oath was not favored.  It was the belief of the executive committee that any disputes about the ability of someone to serve on the nominations committee would be handled by the Court of Appeals.  Judges Sudderth and Leben will re-work the proposed by-laws change and have it for the mid year meeting for review. 

Old Business.

A.  2000 Annual conference.

Feedback from those attending indicates this was a very successful conference.  Those not attending the conference really missed out on a good time in a beautiful city with much to offer.  The education sessions were very good, however the presenters will need to provide written information or material in order for some states to grant continuing education credits.   This is a problem for at least one state and it may be for others as well.   As reported above the financial end of the conference was also a success.   Many thanks were given to Mike for a job well done.  He and Jeff will work on protocols for upcoming annual meetings in order to help future chairs to avoid some of the hidden pitfalls that can and do happen even in the best of efforts.

B.  Website.

The website has been updated and improved.  Background colors were changed and now it is possible to download any page from our site and get the information.  The Center now has a person devoted to the web sites and she is great to work with.  She will work with Jay on getting information about the Reno conference up on the site and we may have a link like we did for Kansas City information.

C.  Heuer Survey.

Judge Elliott will report on this later in the meeting.

D.  Use of AJA Membership List serve.

As of this meeting it had not been used to distribute information to the general membership.  We are currently using the ex-committee and committee chair Listserve on a regular basis.  If you have information of interest to the general membership, you need to get that information to Judge Sudderth and she will have it sent.  Currently she is serving as the clearing point to make sure we are putting out appropriate and important information.  Members should begin to receive information as soon as Judge Sudderth returns.

Other Old Business.

Less Johnson reported on an experiment by the American Academy of Judicial Education and the AJF.  An educational program will be presented this spring and the funds generated after expenses will be donated to the AJF.  If this is a success it may be tried again.

Site Selection: There was much discussion about sites and criteria for selection of the mid year and annual meetings.  Cost, location and membership stated interests were discussed.   Judges Sudderth and McAdam will meet with the site selection committee prior to the mid year meeting and report to the ex-committee at its Thursday meeting. 

Joint Meetings: Judge Elliott suggested if we are interested in some type of a joint meeting with NACM, NAWJ, NAJE or others we might want to consider the year 2004.  He also suggested a small committee be appointed to look further into the idea and to report back.  President Williams believes it is important that we reach a decision quickly. Judge Elliott moved and Judge McAdam seconded that we look into a joint meeting with NACM, NAWJ,  NAJE and perhaps others.  The motion passed and Judges Elliott, McAdam and Nachtigal were appointed to the committee.

New Business.

E. Future Conferences.

2002 midyear Hot Springs.  There will be an optional educational session on one day in the afternoon.  The budget and executive committees will also meet and it is expected they will meet on Thursday.  Fun will be had by all.

2001 annual Reno.  The education portion is still in flux.  The hotel and other arrangements are in place and things are looking good.  

2002 midyear Biloxi.  We are still negotiating the rates and locations.  Less Johnson will assist.  

2002 annual Maui.  Judge Sudderth still needs ideas and help with the education program.  Cost is a concern.  She believes we may need to provide some food if we are going to meet early in the morning.  That will be an additional cost.  In order to get in the requested amount of CLE credits and allow for plenty of free time.  One suggestion was to set the CLE times and leave it up to the membership to attend or not and let the speakers know they may have a small audience.  Generally, the idea of returning for an evening CLE session was disfavored.    

2003 midyear and annual Billings/Montreal.  Shelley is just now working on those.  No report as of yet.

F.  Updated conference and Membership Statistics.  They are in the packet.

G.  House of Delegates.  Judge McAdam now believes he has the time to work with the Delegates.  It was suggested that we have a by-law change to not require the appointment within 30 days of any vacancy as we are just not able to get that accomplished.  Judge McAdam moved and Judge Froehlich seconded to request a by-laws change to allow the President to appoint whenever a vacancy occurred and to remove any time requirements. The motion passed.

H.  Committee Reports.   There was a general discussion about the need to keep some committees especially if they could not give any report as to any activity.  This is an ongoing discussion as the needs of the organization.   

1.  Awards.  No report.  
2.  By-laws. No report.  
3.  Conference Site.  No report.  
4.  Domestic Violence.  The report was in the packet.  This is an active committee and is currently working on projects.  
5.  Education.  No report.  
6.  Highway Safety.  While there was no report there was discussion about this committee.  There is federal money available for programs in this area and it is important that we stay connected.  
7.  Juvenile Justice.  No report.  
8.  Law Student Essay Competition.  The initial mailing has gone out.  
9.  Membership.  The report is in the packet.  Judge Elliott had 3 points he wanted to make with regards to membership. We need to work on the solicitation of new members along with the retention of the current membership.  To start we need to work on getting the new judges to sign up for the first year.  Judge Elliott will be doing a solicitation for Kansas and North Dakota.  Judge Sudderth went to two of the Texas “new judges school” and she obtained many new members.  How many will renew for the second year is really up to the Board of Governors and their retention program(s).  The National Judicial College pays the membership to the Judicial Division of the ABA for individuals attending the College.  Judge Elliott suggested we contact the NJC and see if they will extend the same to the AJA.  It was agreed that first we would need to establish some ongoing relationship with the NJC before they would be willing to pay for membership in the AJA.    Judge Rosinek everyone needs to take an interest in a follow-up contact to new members once their year is up.  The BOG should each write a letter to try and determine why someone did not renew their membership.   
10.  Nominations.  No report.  
11.  Public Information/Relations.  The report is in the packet.  The first discussion we need to have in Hot Springs is to give direction to this committee on just what we want them to accomplish.  Judge Rosinek will talk to Kevin Rifler and see if he can come to Reno.  In the past he has been willing to do things for us with the media but we have not given him any direction.  What we have asked him to do has not been appropriate to his services.  President Williams will talk to Judge Wallace and tell him the committee is not going in the direction we want and that we will provide better direction in the future.   
12.  Publications.  The report is in the packet.  Everyone is pleased with the job being done with “Benchmark”.  As always the editor needs articles and things to put in the publication.  The committees should be encouraged to send articles to him for publication.  We will be adding the chair of the committee to the list serve so he can communicate directly with the various committee chairs and seek information for publication.  Advertising is up slightly.  
13. Resolutions.  No report.  
14.  Judicial Leadership for Ethnic Equality.  No written report.  President Williams received information that one of the difficulties with the committee is that it had 3 chairs.  That was 2 too many.  Additionally the role for the AJA in the matter was never defined.  Currently there is a grant proposal to develop a program on the topic of Judicial leadership and Ethnic Equality.  President Williams will contact Judge Hernandez and have a report for Hot Springs.  
15.  Trial Court Performance Standards.  No report.  
16.  Judicial Leadership for Substance Abuse Reduction Initiative.  No report.  
17.  Therapeutic Jurisprudence.  The AJA is a co-sponsor of the International Conference to be held this year.   
18.  Evaluate Conference site selection, scheduling and educational programming.  This has already been done.  There will be additional discussion later on in this meeting.  
19.  Alternative Dispute Resolution.  The report is in the packet.
20.  Pro Se Litigation.  It was agreed that this would be a good topic for the Public Relations Committee to work on along with Kevin Rifler.  
21.  Investments.  There will be discussion on this topic later in the meeting.  Tabled until tomorrow.  
22.  Canadian Judges.  No report.  

The meeting was adjourned until the next morning.

January 13, 2001.

Investments were discussed at the beginning of the morning.  The report we received indicated we should reallocate our investments.  Before we have someone do a great deal of work for us we will need a resume and a recommendation on just what to do with the investments.  It was moved and seconded to obtain the information and report back.  It may be advisable to have a firm do the investing for us. The Treasurer will work on getting the necessary information and report back at Hot Springs.

I.   Updated Meeting Guidelines.  This has been accomplished and is ready to be used by others in planning future conferences.

J.  Proposed by law amendment.  There was considerable discussion as to the procedures to be applied if someone disputed a violation of the proposed by-law governing the nominations committee.  It was generally agreed that under our current structure the appeal of any dispute would be to the Court of Appeals.  It was moved and seconded to forward the by-law proposal with option I to the By-laws Committee.  It passed with one no vote.  Judge Elliott regretted the need for such detail.

K.  Proposed conference site protocol.  This report by Judge McAdam is done and ready for distribution. 

L.  2001 Assembly of Associations.  It is scheduled for Washington DC March 7-9th.  President Williams believes it is very important for AJA to have a presence with the other associations.  He has attended several meetings of the other associations and there is talk of a joint conference in 3 years between AJA, NAJE and NACM..  While we support this joint meeting, it should not be at our annual meeting or we would get lost in the number on members in NACM.  It was suggested that we look toward a mid-year conference.  President Williams recently attended the COSCA conference.  He was very impressed by the way their committees functioned.  We could learn a great deal from that organization.  There is the possibility of an upcoming joint project, but we would have to be sure that our members will participate better than they did the last time.  How to motivate participation is difficult and something we need to keep working on.  President Williams and President Elect Sudderth will attend the Assembly 2001 meeting.  This program is sponsored by the National Center.  Having the President Elect travel with the President is a good thing for the upcoming President and the organization.  An article for the “Benchmark” should be done following the trips to keep the membership informed and to help them understand the benefit of this travel and help justify the expense.

M. Evaluation of AJA Educational Programs.  There have been concerns about how the educational programs are planned.  In the past it has been the Conference Chair who has planned the education programs and not the education committee.  If the conference chair is strong and organized the education program will be good.  If not...  There was the suggestion that we study our education programs and how we put them together.  It might be time to look at providing different educational tracks to better meet the needs of a diverse membership.  There are some topics that all judges need and then there are other topics that only reach a portion of the membership.  Judge Elliott moved that we appoint a committee to look at our education programs and how we are delivering them.  There was no second.  Judge Rosinek suggested that the Education Committee take this on for a project and report back to the BOG.    Les Johnson went over a brief history on the prior relationship between the American Academy of Judicial Education and the AJA.  They may be in a position to help us with our future educational needs.

President Williams will have the Education Sub Committee to look at and develop a protocol on how to present education. Rosinek, Johnson, Elliott are appointed.  He will see if Chuck Erickson from the Center can assist.  He may also seek assistance from other organizations.

N.  Jury Summit 2001.  We are co-sponsors of this 3-day program.  The meeting will be in New York and be held in late January.  The purpose of the conference is to look at all phases of juries and their function.  President Williams is attending for the AJA.

O.  Joint Meeting with NACM/NASJE.   This was discussed under section L above.

P.  NJC payment of ABA judicial division fees.  See discussion under Committee Reports (9).

Q.  Review of NCSC 2001 contract.  This contract was discussed.  They have reduced our contractual obligation for this year due to our support of their projects and in recognition of our efforts.  This is a one time reduction and should not be expected to occur each year.  The contract for the year 2002 should be available for the executive committee review well in advance of the contract deadline. The contract was approved with Judge Nachtigal not voting as she is a member of the Centers Board.

R.  Judicial Education Network/ICM.  There was not a particular discussion on this topic.

S.  Judicial Technology committee.  Judge Elliott believes this is an important topic and we should stay involved in this area.  The ball was passed to Judge Sudderth to follow up on this topic.

T.  Best Practices.  Our committees submitted 5 responses to the Best Practices request by President Williams.  We are struggling with the topic as is the Best Practices Institute.  We will submit some to the Institute.  We will need additional information on where or what courts are actually using one of the submissions and that could be indicated in a cover letter to the Institute and the Chair of the CCJ.  Additionally, we need to make sure that our representative on the Advisory Committee Judge Olds, is notified of our submissions so she will not be surprised.

U.  Credits for teaching at judicial education programs.  This was not discussed.

Other Business.

Judge McAdam will bring the officer handbooks to Hot Springs. 

AJA has a seat on the Advisory Counsel for the Research Department at the National Center.  Judge Elliott has served for the last 3 years.

Currently, a Past Presidents Advisory Committee is being formed.  It will be ˝ social and ˝ service to the organization.  It was moved and seconded to request the BOG create a Council of Past Presidents.  It passed.

Judge Elliott suggested we think about having some type of program for presiding judges.  If there is a interest it could take the form of a program, education or just a forum for discussion.  It was generally agreed that we do not want to set out to create separate divisions within the organization.  One of our strengths is that we all come together as equals.  We do not want to establish elite subgroups or to have subgroups take control of the educational programs. 

There being no further business to discuss and the hour was late, the meeting was adjourned.     

There being no further business to come before the Executive Committee, the meeting was adjourned on Saturday, January 13, 2001.  

Respectively submitted

 

Gayle A. Nachtigal, Secretary.

 

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