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Chief Justices Elect New President

510pxmarshall_margaret I never knew that the chief justices of the nation's state and territorial courts have their own organization, the Conference of Chief Justices. They do. In fact, the organization is nearly 60 years old, launched in 1949. They met this week for their annual conference in Anchorage, Alaska, where they elected a new president, Margaret H. Marshall, chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, to a one-year term. Along with the CCJ presidency comes appointment as chair of the board of directors of the National Center for State Courts, the "think tank" of state courts. Marshall succeeds South Carolina Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal.

Wanting to know more about the CCJ, I went to its Web site and found this 70-page history. It provides this overview:

The Conference of Chief Justices has established itself as the primary representative of the state courts, providing them national leadership and a national voice. The chief justices, as the heads of the judicial departments in their respective states, come together in this organization to represent the state courts in the same way as the National Governors Association represents the executive branches of state government.

The history goes on to explain that the CCJ, along with the members of the Conference of State Court Administrators, elect the governing board of the National Center for State Courts. They also represent the state courts in their relations with the federal court system and serve as the principal mouthpiece for the state courts on Capitol Hill.

As for Justice Marshall, on a national level, she is perhaps best known as author of the opinion that legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. She is the state's first woman chief justice and was only the second woman on the SJC when Gov. William Weld named her to the bench in 1996. A native of South Africa, she is a 1976 graduate of Yale Law School. Before coming on the bench, she was vice president and general counsel of Harvard University and a partner in the Boston law firms Choate, Hall & Stewart and Csaplar & Bok. She issued a statement saying that she is honored to serve as CCJ president and that state courts "face enormous challenges with changing demographics, burgeoning caseloads, and fiscal restraints."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 1, 2008 at 12:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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