Meet the President of AJA
Judge Brian MacKenzie retired from the bench of the 52nd District Court, located in Novi, Michigan, after almost 27 years of service and is currently a partner in the Justice Speakers Institute. He started his term as president of the American Judges Association (AJA) in October 2014 and his term will continue through the AJA's annual conference in Seattle on October 4-7, 2015.
The AJA is the largest non-profit organization of judges in the world. It was founded in 1959 in Colorado Springs and has as a purpose to be the voice of the judiciary. To that end the AJA provides support, education, and resources in an effort to make better judges.
During Judge MacKenzie's term, the AJA began a complete revision of its bylaws, reached an agreement with the National Association of Judicial Educators (NAJSE) and the Washington State Judiciary to hold a Joint Conference in Seattle, Washington, and reached an agreement with the National Association for Court Management (NACM) to write a joint white paper on procedural fairness in the courthouse.
Judge MacKenzie has written and lectured throughout the country on issues including veterans treatment courts, domestic violence, drug treatment courts, drunk and drugged driving, and court media relations. He is co-editor of the book Michigan Criminal Procedure. He is the author of The Rundown, a series of broadcasts sent to AJA members and is currently hard at work on the AJA's white paper on Procedural Fairness in Drug Treatment Courts.
In 2001 he was honored by the Foundation for the Improvement of Justice with the Paul H. Chapman medal for significant contributions to the American Criminal Justice System.
Judge MacKenzie received his Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University Law School. He is married to Karen MacKenzie and they have three children: Kate, David, and Breanna and three grandsons: Daniel, Raymond, and Henry.
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In the News
National Conference of Metropolitan Courts (NCMC) conference leadership has been developing a new strategic plan for the association since early 2015. A ten-person committee of judges and administrators met in Orange County, California, in February and in Williamsburg, Virginia, in May. The committee has proposed a broad-scoped revamp of the association's objectives directed at enhanced programming and resource development toward improved trial court governance and leadership. Final discussions and decisions will take place this summer in Louisville, Kentucky at the conference's annual meeting.
NCMC will complete a two-year partnership with the National Association for Court Management (NACM) this summer as both associations hold a second joint conference. Last year the two groups met in Scottsdale, Arizona. In 2016, NCMC will move back to its traditional annual meeting schedule in the fall in Cleveland. The meeting will be hosted by the Ohio Court of Common Pleas in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland). Discussions have recently taken place with the Justice Management Institute, secretariat to the Urban Court Managers' Network (UCMN), regarding UCMN and NCMC collaborating on NCMC's 2016 annual meeting.
State court judges are facing new and complex legal questions as a result of the Ebola virus. In response, but also in preparation for any future pandemic emergencies, the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) supported the creation of a CCJ task force around this issue and called on the National Center for State Courts for assistance. The State Justice Institute has provided a grant to support the task force's work.
The ten-member task force includes chief justices, state court administrators, a trial court judge, a law professor and public health expert, and representatives from the National Conference of State Legislators and the National Governors Association.
The task force is examining the legal questions that have arisen and may arise surrounding pandemic emergencies and will be tasked with: (1) Producing a guidebook that each state can use as a template to develop their own benchbook or guide that would be state specific. The audience for the guidebook would include the courts, bar, and public health; (2) Developing a summary of resources that would be made available to courts; and (3) Assisting with implementing task force products as needed, such as participation in a national webinar.
The task force will conclude its work this summer and will be meeting at the July 2015 CCJ/COSCA annual meeting and will present its guidebook to attendees.
The CCJ Civil Justice Improvements Committee held its third plenary meeting on May 14-15 in Denver, Colorado. The committee is tasked with identifying and making recommendations about best practices for civil case processing. Since the second plenary meeting in November 2014, committee members have been meeting with their respective subcommittees developing recommendations concerning court operations and rules/procedures for civil case management. At the third meeting, the members came to a general consensus concerning the need for a differentiated case management approach to civil case processing that involves effective triage, technology and non-judicial staff support, and early and consistent court involvement in caseflow management. The committee will meet for its fourth and final meeting in November 2015.
The National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts held its 27th annual conference in Buffalo, New York, June 10-13, 2015. The conference was hosted by the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission of New York State Unified Court System. The theme for the conference was "Uniting Communities: Justice for All." The opening keynote speaker, Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, gave a speech on the current events that have taken place throughout the nation. Reverend Sharpton's speech was recorded by WBFO and can be heard here.
Additionally, there was a town hall meeting that discussed ways to improve police and law enforcement relations within Buffalo and the surrounding communities. Panelists included the mayor of Niagara Falls, Buffalo deputy police commissioner, Buffalo Urban League and others who discussed topics of police reform and solutions that have worked in different communities, as well as ways to unite and to ensure justice for all people.
The conference included other timely and important subject matter covered in breakout and plenary sessions that educated and brought awareness to issues such as implicit bias/racial anxiety; zero tolerance in the schools and its effects on minority communities; justice for Native American communities; and domestic violence.
National Association of State Judicial Educators (NASJE) Annual Conference registration is now open. NASJE will be meeting jointly with the American Judges Association and the Washington State Judges, October 4-7 in Seattle, Washington.
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Have questions? Need additional information? Have something you want to share? Contact Jennifer Haire, Director of Association and Conference Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757.259.1806.