Bryan Walker

Judicial Education Manager Insights

My belief has always been that great teachers can teach anybody. The student’s age does not matter. My first disclaimer: I do not consider myself a great teacher. I have, however, found success as a teacher and coach. In my opinion, certificates and degrees have never determined the efficacy of a teacher. I have seen many teachers with Ph.Ds. who fail to connect with learners. As Jack Anderson Pidgeon, the headmaster of the private Kiski School in Saltsburg noted , “Teaching must flow from within. Teaching is an art.”

Judicial Forensic Science Education

As technology plays an increasingly significant role in our society, it has become commonplace in the courtroom. New technological practices and discoveries bring forensic science topics such as DNA, latent print examinations, and digital evidence to the forefront of our court system. With technology playing a greater and greater role in resolving cases, it became obvious to Arizona judicial educators that many judges lack the educational background needed for a sufficient understanding of the scientific principles behind the forensic evidence they see in court.

Utah Courts Create Academies to Enhance Employees’ Career Advancement

In State Court systems around the country there are many positions that have a definitive career ladder but there are many that don’t. The Utah State courts Education Department has launched academies to help a wide range of employees prepare for advancement. Two academies were designed to prepare non-supervisory and middle-management employees for future higher level management and leadership opportunities. Even in their infancy, these academies have measurably enhanced the academy graduates’ management and leadership skills.

The Promise of Restorative Justice: Reduced Pressure on Courts, Reduced Recidivism, Increased Public Trust in the Rule of Law

In a thought provoking session at NASJE’s 2016 Annual Conference in Burlington, Vermont, Dr. Johannes Wheeldon and the Honorable David Suntag offered the underlying premises of restorative justice — while attempting to respond to criminal acts, the justice system itself causes harm, and the participation of those in the justice system is often limited to hiring a lawyer to navigate complex procedures. This lack of participation by those whose lives are affected leads to a default society. Restorative justice, on the other hand, demands meaningful participation and affords an opportunity to articulate our needs.

Judging Science in the Courthouse

This expanding universe of scientific knowledge has engendered many discussions about the perceived need to increase the amount of science based education judges receive. Some argue that judges should be educated like scientists. The problem intrinsic this idea is that judges are specialists in the law, and generalists in everything else. Moreover, the vast majority of judges turned away from a scientific education, at least by the time they were in college and certainly by the time they were in law school. Law school teaches a different manner of seeking the truth than the scientific method.

Report of the Education and Curriculum Committee

The Education and Curriculum Committee is hard at work on a number of initiatives designed to enhance the professional lives of judicial educators. The fifteen-member committee, co-chaired by Judith Anderson of Washington and Anthony Simones of Missouri, made the decision to split into three subcommittees in order to effectively achieve the goals of the group.

Rethinking Learning Styles: Judicial Educators as Restless Learners

Judicial Branch Educators are restless learners. As such, they continually investigate new research on teaching and learning and on topics of interest to courts. They also need to be critical thinkers, constantly evaluating what they know and what they need to learn. Rethinking learning styles is just such a topic. There is much to know about learning styles, but well-tested and documented research goes against the widely accepted view that teachers should alter their teaching styles according to their learners’ learning styles in order to maximize learning. In addition, research casts doubt on the reliability of assessments designed to determine individual learning styles.

Mary Ann Koory

Impressions of the NASJE Conference by a Newbie

Last month, I found myself sharing a taxi from the Vermont Airport to the Burlington Hilton late Saturday night with another newly minted judicial educator, Meg Rowe. Meg and I were chatting in the back seat – we’d just met — when the taxi driver asked us what “judicial education” was. Even as newbies, we’d answered that question a few times already and offered him practiced explanations. When we were finished, he said, “Do you work on those new drug courts? Because the one here saved my life.” And he told us a bit about himself, offering us a story and a life that connected the NASJE Conference and our new profession to something more real than practiced explanations about judicial education. Our cab ride unexpectedly reminded us of the human value of the work we do.

God Knows Where I Am

Ending the Criminalization of Mental Illness

This compelling blended learning event at the 2016 NAJSE annual conference combined experiential learning and more traditional learning. Session participants watched the heart-wrenching, award-winning documentary God Knows Where I Am, participated in a discussion about the film with colleague Joan Bishop, and listened to a presentation by Judge Steve Leifman about his judicial experiences and interactions with the mental health system and the mentally ill appearing before him.

TX Judicial Education Entities Team Up for 2nd Annual Impaired Driving Symposium

Judicial Education in Texas works differently than in many other states. Instead of judicial education being a function of the Office of Court Administration as it is elsewhere, judicial education is provided through multiple entities each providing training for a different segment of the judiciary. This judicial education is financed by a grant from the Court of Criminal Appeals out of funds appropriated by the Legislature to the Judicial and Court Personnel Training Fund. In Texas, judicial education is administered by the Court of Criminal Appeals, through grants from the Court to Judicial Education entities, such as the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center.

Crossing the Yard

BOOK REVIEW: Crossing the Yard: Thirty Years as a Prison Volunteer

It is difficult to discuss prison conditions with just about anyone. Some are convinced that crime deserves prison, the more time the better. Others are appalled by statistics that reveal the huge number of prisoners in America. Politicians talk about being tough on crime, parents talk about spending more on education instead of on prisons. Private prisons seem to be having a heyday. Recently, much has been made of the number of minorities in American prisons, and the long sentences they serve compared to Whites. As court personnel, exposed daily to crimes against society, it is easy to become jaded about prison and prisoners.

Paul DeLosh

Upcoming NASJE Webcast – New Course Development Resource: The NACM Core

As judicial educators, our challenge is to develop courses year after year that are relevant, engaging, and provide the most up-to-date information. We use a variety of resources to accomplish this daunting task, and this year, our partners at the National Association for Court Management (NACM) have released thirteen curriculum designs that align with the NACM Core, the updated version of the NACM Core Competencies.