Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin Shirley S. Abrahamson has been named the 2009 recipient of the Harry L. Carrico Award for Judicial Innovation presented by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). Chief Justice of Massachusetts Margaret H. Marshall, chair of the NCSC’s Board of Directors, presented Chief Justice Abrahamson the award Friday in Charlotte, N.C., during the American Bar Association’s (ABA) conference on Fair and Impartial Courts. The NCSC collaborated with the ABA on the conference.
The award is named after retired Virginia Chief Justice Harry L. Carrico, who was instrumental in founding the National Center for State Courts in 1971. Chief Justice Carrico served on the National Center’s Board of Directors from 1987 to 1990, serving as chair from 1989-1990. The award—created in 2003 when Chief Justice Carrico retired—was established to honor a sitting state court chief justice or justice who has inspired, sponsored, promoted, or led an innovation of national significance in the field of judicial administration.
All of which, Chief Justice Abrahamson has achieved. She is recognized as a national leader in state courts issues, such as protecting judicial independence, improving interbranch relations, and expanding outreach to the public. She was the first woman appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1976 and has served as Chief Justice since 1996. In 2004 she served as president of the Conference of Chief Justices and chair of the National Center for State Courts Board of Directors.