Welcome to the Judges Section's First Newsletter!
- Chair's Welcome
- Introductions to the Section Executive Committee
- Membership Report: 100%+ Increase Since February 2016
- Rule of Law Report: Judges, Religious Freedom, and the Boko Haram
- Save-the-Date: The JRCLS Conference in Philadelphia, February 16-18, 2017!
Welcome to the first official edition of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society's Judges Section Newsletter! I wish to thank those who have contributed this inaugural effort.
The Judges Section is starting to get its legs under it. The Judges Section is committed to upholding and sustaining the Rule of Law. As part of that work, we are beginning a more focused effort to be of service to the J. Reuben Clark Law Society at large. Our desire is to make it more widely known that many of our judges are quite willing to speak to Student Chapters and to give talks and presentations to other Sections and local Chapters. We are developing a list of those who are interested in doing that, so please let us know if that includes you.
We hope to see some of you in Philadelphia, February 16-18, 2016, for the JRCLS Annual Conference. We intend to continue making this Section an accessible vehicle for meaningful service opportunities. With that in mind, we are interested in hearing from you with your thoughts, suggestions and constructive feedback.
Chair, JRCLS Judges Section Executive Committee
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Introductions to the Section's Executive Committee
The Judges Section is currently helmed by an executive committee comprised of five judges and an attorney executive secretary. The Executive Committee members are committed to the mission of the Judges Section--and to helping section members connect with each other and with the JRCLS. The Executive Committee members are the primary point of contact between the section members and JRCLS international leadership. As a section member, you are welcome to reach out to the committee at any time about Section or JRCLS business. The Executive Committee is eager to serve!
Currie Mingledorff, Chair. Currie is a judge on the Georgia Superior Court. He's been a member of the Executive Committee since 2010, and as such, he's enjoyed playing a "small role in organizing an effort to strengthen judicial systems around the world." He hopes that section members "increasingly catch the vision of enhancing stability and quality of life for people around the world through service opportunities that are unique to our role as judges." When not judging or chairing, Currie enjoys spending time with his family, running, swimming, gardening, and reading.
Todd Plewe, Vice-Chair. Todd is a Colorado state district court judge. He's been a Judges Section Executive Committee Member since 2012. As such, he's particularly enjoyed the friendships he's made with the other judges in the section. He hopes that the section members will form strong relationships and that support each other in their work. He and his wife have been blessed with five children, ages 7-19, so his free time is spent supporting them in their education and activities. He enjoys golfing (with his children), coaching youth sports, and fishing.
Jay Bybee, Committee Member. Jay sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. So far his participation in the Judges Section has been meaningful to him because of the Section's great potential to contribute to the mission of the JRCLS. He says, "There are some really good opportunities for judges--active, senior, or retired," including overseas. "We just have to match up the projects with the personnel." He enjoys spending time with family, reading, and riding a road bike. He also enjoys worrying whether he should continue to insist on the Oxford comma.
Ben Hadfield, Committee Member. Ben is an active senior judge in Utah's First Judicial District. He also serves as a mediator around the state of Utah. Ben gardens extensively and values the time he is able to spend with his family.
Denise Lindberg, Committee Member. Denise is a senior judge in Utah's Third Judicial District. She travels extensively in her calling as a member of the LDS Church's Young Women General Board. She's been able to join those efforts with her efforts to support the Rule of Law as a speaker at international judicial conferences. One of those experiences in featured in this newsletter, "Judges, Religious Freedom, and the Boko Haram." She adores spending time with her grandchildren.
Sarah Brinton, Executive Secretary. Sarah is a partner at Pia Anderson Moss Hoyt, a law firm in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the newest member of the Executive Committee, having begun her service in April 2016. She says: "I can see so clearly the Judges Section as a vibrant network of service-oriented judicial servants, working hard to do good in the courtroom and out. I hope the member judges can see this too!" When she is not practicing law or executively secretarying, she wrangles her three toddlers, plays board games, and chases her dreams.
If you want to contact the Judges Section Executive Committee about section business or newsletter ideas, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Committee looks forward to hearing from you!
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This past February, the Judges Section began a big push to increase its membership. The Executive Committee issued a call to those of who might know judges who would want to be members of this unique JRCLS section. And you responded! In February 2016, the Section membership hovered around 30. As of August 2016, we have more than 70 members--an increase of approximately 133%! If you know of others who are not yet members but who might be interested in joining, please direct them to theJRCLS member application, where they can join the JRCLS and specify their interest in the Judges Section. Alternatively, you or they can send their contact info to email@example.com and then someone from the Executive Committee will then reach out to them.
We want all interested judges to join us as we seek to fulfill the mission of the Section:
We are dedicated to promoting the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary as a cornerstone of government. We strive to assist each other and all judges everywhere in upholding and promoting these ideals.
Judges Section, unite!
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Rule of Law Report
Judges, Religious Freedom, and the Boko Haram
Regional factions such as the Boko Haram, who terrorize and kidnap in the name of religion, pose a difficult problem for Nigeria's politicians. But they also raise difficult questions for Nigeria's judges, who are trying to better understand the role the courts should play at the intersection of law and religion.
This past June, Judge Denise Lindberg, a member of the JRCLS Judges Section’s Executive Committee and a senior judge on Utah’s third district court, spoke at a religious liberty conference in Nigeria. The conference, held in Abuja (the Nigerian capital), was a one-day meeting attended by more than one hundred of the nation’s superior court judges, including judges from the Nigerian Supreme Court, the courts of appeal, the state high courts, the federal high courts, the Sharia Court of Appeal, and the Customary Court of Appeal (the tribal court). (Judge Lindberg is pictured below on the front row, fourth from the left.)
Judge Lindberg encouraged the judges in attendance to better understand the international legal protections provided to Nigerian citizens by international law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Nigeria is a signatory. For example, while religious freedom is broadly protected by the ICCPR, the treaty does permit certain restrictions on religion, such as on the freedom to manifest one’s own belief. But these restrictions are only allowable in limited and specified circumstances. “It is a judge’s role to really examine laws that encroach religious freedom under these international laws, especially when minority religions are at issue,” Judge Lindberg said.
She pointed to Pakistan as a relevant case study for the role of courts in upholding the Rule of Law even on a controversial issue, such as religion. “The Pakistani constitution includes beautiful statements of religious freedom,” Judge Lindberg explained, “but in Pakistan, religious minorities are severely persecuted and even killed.” Despite the widespread practice of religious non-freedom, Pakistani Supreme Court recently issued an opinion ordering the government to change its ways to accord with the constitutional norms of freedom. Judge Lindberg urged the Nigerian judges to similarly “set a vision for the country” in protecting religious freedom as required by international law.
Other speakers who addressed the Nigerian judges included the Dean of the University of Lagos Law School, Cole Durham (from BYU’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies), a Nigerian Supreme Court Justice, and the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Judge Lindberg explained the impact that her trip to Nigeria had on her own work. “It’s not unreasonable to expect that [in our U.S. courts] we will be struggling with religious liberty or First Amendment issues. It may not have to do with people being kidnapped—but it might have to do with the placing of a church in a residential area where people don’t want it. Challenges to tax status of certain faith-based groups.” She said the conference caused her to ask herself some tough questions: “How do I see my role and how well do I consider myself a student of these issues? How much more do I have to do so I can be prepared to really understand and address these issues?”
“I came back a different person,” Judge Lindberg said. “That week was very meaningful to me. I’ve thought about it lot, and I’m still distilling it. I met interesting people. I was able to share a little bit of perspective as a judge. It was professionally and personally satisfying.”
JRCLS Conference in Philadelphia, Feb. 16-18, 2017
The Annual JRCLS Conference will be held this year in Philadelphia. The conference will be from February 16-18, 2017.
The Judges Section is actively working to schedule multiple sessions that are specific to the interest of judges. We are also providing the Conference organizers with names of judges who might be willing to speak, present workshops, or participate on panels at the Conference, for the benefit of all JRCLS members.
If you have ideas for classes that you and other judges might like to attend, would like to be included as a possible speaker for the Conference organizers' consideration, or have other feedback regarding the Conference, please firstname.lastname@example.org. We know travel for judges can be difficult, but the Conference is a wonderful chance to connect with the JRCLS organization, including hearing from the LDS Church Area Legal Counsel, who are facing so many thorny and thoughtful legal issues around the world. We're trying to make the Conference especially useful for Judges Section members.
We hope you will you join us!
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