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2016 Class Spokesperson
Joshua F. Tenorio
President Mary McQueen, Major General William Suter, Vice President John Meeks, Dean Dan Straub, Chief Justice Robert J. Torres and Senator Mary Camacho Torres, Presiding Judge Alberto C. Lamorena, III, Fellows of the Class of 2016, Relatives, Colleagues, and Friends. Good morning and, as we say in Guam, Hafa Adai!
How amazing it is that I am addressing you from inside the United States Supreme Court, the headquarters and home to the guardians of the best judicial system ever established – a system that is not perfect, but by its design, is compelled to evolve with the times, to be responsive and relevant to its citizenry, and most of all, to be the global beacon of democracy and freedom. This beautiful building stands as a symbol of Lady Justice herself – the protector of fairness, and the guarantor of equality. It is especially meaningful for me – a citizen from the territories.
You are in the company of a truly esteemed group of people – an eclectic mix of professionals and court leaders that is committed to furthering the promise and guarantee of justice in our nation. There are both elected and appointed officials in this class – professionals charged and entrusted with the awesome responsibility of advancing and enabling the work of justice. We each play important roles in the constant but purposeful critique and improvement of this vocation we have chosen – a vocation whose importance is sometimes understated, and in many ways, misunderstood.
Having played what I believe have been meaningful roles in the operation of the executive and legislatives branches in Guam, I must tell you that it is within the courts and its affiliated services, programs, and agencies that the beauty of our form of democracy is most realized. It is here, where the results of unfair policy and law are corrected and where the last gates and opportunities remain for justice to be served. It is here where, oftentimes, life and liberty literally hang in the balance.
To get to this point in our profession, the group before you completed three phases of education and training. The first phase focused on obtaining the Certificate of Court Management, through structured coursework focused on all aspects of managing courts – from technology and finance, to human resources and the delivery of court services. Perhaps the most important lesson that came from this framework was understanding, and in some cases, reminding ourselves of the most basic purposes and responsibilities of the court, and the importance of guaranteeing procedural fairness in order to earn the trust of court patrons and our citizenry.
The second phase was focused on obtaining the Court Executive Certificate, in which Dean Straub and Professor McDowell led a dynamic faculty. The focus of this phase was on leadership, research, and academia. For those of us who were able to participate in the in-resident phase, I must specifically recognize our faculty, which included President Mary McQueen, John Meeks, Jesse Rutledge, Nicole Waters, Tom Clarke, Dan Hall, Brian Ostrom, and Dale Kasparek. Special thanks go to Toni Grainer, who was the glue that held this program together, as well as to all of the staff of the National Center for State Courts.
I must also take the time to recognize and congratulate those members of our class who chose the more difficult path – the distance-learning phase, which I guarantee required a greater amount of self-discipline and commitment.
Our third phase would prove to be the most relevant and impactful work we would complete – a research and publication phase, which was the critical step to becoming a Fellow. The brilliance of this phase is the push to select focused but relevant topics meant to address or improve justice in each of our jurisdictions. This year, these topics and/or concerns covered a cross-section of areas, including Identity Theft, Courthouse Security, Parenting Coordination, Evaluation, Judicial Compensation, Strategic Planning, Finances, Early Resolution Programs, Trial Court Collaboration, Judicial Unification, E-Learning, Guardianships, Fines and Court Costs, Juror Utilization, Court Administration, Probation Reform, and Specialty Dockets.
The fourth and final phase was the presentation and Masters Class where the members of this class demonstrated the knowledge of their project and their skills in presentation.
This program enabled its most promising participants the opportunity to apply the knowledge they obtained to critically examine an issue of great concern, and to develop a strategy to adequately address the needs of, and hopefully improve, their jurisdictions.
The Institute for Court Management exists to improve the administration of justice for judicial bodies within all levels of state and local government. It enables the exchange of ideas, the study of all aspects of the courts and judicial administration, the consideration of standards, the review of norms, and most importantly, the embrace of research and data to drive or refine even the best decisions and decision-makers. For just as independence is vital to judicial decision making, collaboration and the sharing of strategies are essential to effective administration of the courts.
Today, the Institute for Court Management will gain new Fellows, and I am proud to be among them. A Fellow is a member of a group of learned people who work together as peers in the pursuit of mutual knowledge or practice. Among the Fellows of this class are Scott Griffith, the incoming President of the National Association for Court Management; Bill Raftery, the editor of Gavel to Gavel; Stacey Marz, who has made Alaska one of the most forward thinking judiciaries in the areas of self-represented litigants and accessibility and who has been bestowed with the honor of best paper; Lori Tyack, the elected Clerk for the seat of government of Ohio -- Franklin County; Chief Magistrate Serpil Ergun of the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court in Cleveland; Peter Kiefer, the 2015 NACM Award of Merit recipient, and many other dynamic court leaders from all corners of our country.
I am humbled to stand before you as the spokesperson and representative of the Fellows Class of 2016, and I would like to congratulate my colleagues on a job well done. But most of all, I want to thank all of our families and colleagues for providing us with the support necessary to complete this endeavor. You can count on the leadership and innovation from within this group of professionals to advance the work of the courts.
I look forward to continuing the collaborative work with these and all the other past Fellows as they regularly and purposefully convene to advance the cause of justice. Thank you very much.