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New leaders take the helm of CCJ/COSCA

New leaders take the helm of CCJ/COSCA

DC Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby and South Dakota State Court Administrator Greg Sattizahn will lead the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), respectively, for the next year following both groups’ annual conference this week in New York City.

They follow outgoing presidents, Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush and Virginia Supreme Court Executive Secretary Karl R. Hade, who served CCJ/COSCA from 2022-23.

As CCJ president, Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby will also chair the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) Board of Directors. Sattizahn will serve as the board’s vice chair.

Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby joined the D.C. Court of Appeals in 2006 and has served as chief judge since 2017. Her contributions to the Conference of Chief Justices includes service on the Blueprint for Racial Justice steering committee and co-chair of the CCJ/COSCA Public Engagement, Trust, and Confidence committee.

Sattizahn has led the South Dakota Unified Judicial System since 2013. Before becoming the state court administrator, he held positions as the director of policy and legal services and legal and legislative counsel. Sattizahn also served as a law clerk and staff attorney at the South Dakota Supreme Court and was in private practice.

CCJ/COSCA members from around the country met this week to discuss issues ranging from reimagining the court’s future and pandemic response to behavioral health and bar admissions.

Committees convened to share best practices, and to advance resolutions on community engagement, strategic planning for future work on behavioral health issues, and to study the future of the practice of law and the role of state courts as regulators of the profession.

2023 Sandra Day O'Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education

The Indiana Court of Appeals was presented with the 2023 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education during Tuesday’s CCJ/COSCA conference luncheon.

The award recognizes organizations, courts, programs, or individuals who promote, inspire, improve or lead innovations or accomplishments in civics education related to the justice system.

The court’s Appeals on Wheels program has held more than 650 traveling oral arguments since 2000, including 20 sessions in early 2023 with more planned for the upcoming fall semester. The program provides Hoosiers with a unique civics education opportunity that brings real-world, experiential learning to the people.

Pictured above: Indiana Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert R. Altice, Jr. (from left), receives the Sandra Day O’Connor Award from CCJ President Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush. Also present were appellate judges Nancy Vaidik, Melissa May, Elizabeth Tavitas and Dana Kenworthy.

2023 Kenneth R. Palmer Distinguished Service Award

Retired Rhode Island State Court Administrator Joe Baxter received the 2023 Kenneth R. Palmer Distinguished Service Award during Tuesday’s CCJ/COSCA awards ceremony.

This award honors a current or former COSCA member who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and excellence in judicial administration, or significantly advanced one or more of the following:

  • Developing public trust and confidence in the judicial system
  • Supporting access to justice and fairness in the courts
  • Contributing to the effective and efficient administration of justice
  • Defending the independence of the courts as a neutral forum for the peaceable resolution of disputes; and
  • Promoting the judiciary as a co-equal, co-reliant, and accountable branch of government.

Before his retirement in 2021, Baxter spent nearly 40 years with the Rhode Island Judiciary. His national service included COSCA president, co-chair of the Pandemic Rapid Response Team, NCSC’s Research Advisory Committee and the Legal Services Corporation Disaster Task Force Committee. He has also co-chaired the CCJ/COSCA Joint Committee on Security and Emergency Preparedness and chaired the NCSC Board of Directors Public Affairs Committee.

Pictured above: COSCA President Karl R. Hade (right) presents the Palmer Award to retired Rhode Island State Court Administrator Joe Baxter.

Photo Credit: David Handschuh/New York State Office of Court Administration