State Program Planning Initiatives and Systems Vary

No two states are exactly alike in educational programming for judges' family members. Many states invite spouses and guests to sit in on educational sessions planned for judges when the topic is relevant to family members. Others do separate programs for spouses and guests including orientation programs for family members of new judges. Some use both joint and separate programming.

Former Tennessee Judicial Conference President Judge Don Ash formed a committee of trial judges headed by Chancellor Thomas (Skip) Frierson to identify judicial family issues needing attention. They enlisted the support of Shannon Johnson, Education Manager for the Tennessee Supreme Court Administrative Office of the Courts. For their first "Tennessee Judicial Family Institute" program for judges they also invited judges' spouses, partners, and children. Planners issued a special invitation to then Chief Justice Frank Drowota and his spouse former JFI Vice Chair Claire Drowota. National Judicial Family Institute (JFI) speakers moderated an afternoon of panel discussion by Tennessee judges, spouses, and grown children. Materials distributed included reprints of JFI website articles and the JFI website address. At another program a U.S. Marshal spoke on judicial home security. They are looking to a number of initiatives based on the Ohio model including orientation and mentoring programs for both spouses/partners and judges.

Ohio's Mary Moyer, former Chair of JFI, took her idea of forming an Ohio Judicial Family Network (OJFN) to her spouse Chief Justice Tom Moyer who assigned organization and program planning to the Manager of Court Relations and Judicial and Court Services Ruth Newcomer. They organized a diverse statewide committee of men and women married to judges. Members represent various community sizes, ages, and political parties. The OJFN offers educational programming and support for partners of new judges. They have typically used Ohio speakers but invited Jan Aikman Dickson (JFI founder and current JFI Committee Chairperson) to attend their first meeting in 2000 and to moderate their Five Year Anniversary Celebration program. An Associate Professor at the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University teamed up to help the OJFN develop a mentoring program for spouses of new judges.

In Delaware, Judicial Educator Franny Haney started ethics programs for spouses and guests of judges attending judicial conferences. Later former Judicial Family Institute (JFI) Committee member Suzy Veasey and her spouse former Chief Justice Norm Veasey gave such programs an extra boost by offering ideas, attaching their names to invitations and announcements, and attending many events.

An Oklahoma appellate judge's spouse, Barbara Lumpkin, founded the Oklahoma Judicial Conference Auxiliary to support judges' spouses, offer educational programming to them during annual judges' conferences, and encourage them to do public outreach programs to educate the citizenry about the judicial system. When planning programs, spouses work closely with the Oklahoma Supreme Court. They typically use speakers from their own state, but have also invited a JFI speaker to plan and moderate a panel discussion using Oklahoma panelists.

Since both designing and implementing programs will be different for each state, several available models may help planners tailor state specific formats. Go to the JFI website to learn more about planning methods and program emphasis in each of these sample states. Other states on a map of the United States can provide other models. Also see the JFI website for guidelines on program planning and panelist selection.