Inspiring Stories of Women’s Paths to the Bench

A crowd of more than 300 attendees on Zoom and at the Moakley Courthouse heard U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris, Judge Nancy Gertner (Ret.), Justice Fernande R. V. Duffly (Ret.), and Judge Angel Kelley, talk about the inequalities, biases, and other barriers that stood in the way of their path to the bench, and how they overcame them.

The event, Her Honor: Stories of Challenge and Triumph from Women Judges held on April 26th, was part of Discovering Justice, the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts Spring Moakley Courthouse Event series.

The discussion and book signing event on the collection of the same name tells the stories of 25 women judges and their paths and experiences on the bench. Lauren Stiller Rikleen, the book’s editor, also joined the panel and talked about her journey in compiling this set of inspiring stories. The crowd was welcomed by Discovering Justice Board member Abim Thomas, Vice President at Fidelity Investments, and the panel was moderated by Judge Patti Saris.

This event was co-sponsored by the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts, the Hampden County Bar Association, Citizens for Juvenile Justice, the Harvard Women’s Law Association, and the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association.

You can get a copy of Her Honor: Stories of Challenge and Triumph from Women Judges here. Use the code HerHonor23 for a discount.

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Discovering Justice Mock Trials December 13, 2022. (Photo/Reba Saldanha)

Kicking Off Discovering Justice’s 14th Year of Mock Appeal

Last week, 26 middle schools kicked off Discovering Justice’s Spring Mock Appeal Program as students worked with their legal mentors starting in on their legal briefs and learning how the appellate court system works.

The Spring Appeal Program follows Discovering Justice’s Fall Mock Trial Program in which nearly 300 jurors in courthouses across Massachusetts ruled on the Fourth Amendment case Ross v. Clearmont High for 29 student teams. Student attorneys came back this week and rejoined their legal mentors to appeal the jury’s verdict.

“My experience serving as a juror for the Mock Trial program was a big factor in my decision to ask my colleagues to join me in volunteering this semester as legal mentors. The program ran so well, and I was happy to be a part of it,” said Kate Cruickshank, an attorney from Murphy & King, P.C. and one of Discovering Justice’s newest legal mentor volunteers. These dedicated legal mentors will volunteer one afternoon a week through May to work with teams of 10-15 student attorneys to help them explore the Ross v. Clearmont High case and build their arguments.

Erin Sulva, Cruickshank’s colleague, shared her enthusiasm for the program. “I look forward to collaborating on something fun and meaningful with my coworkers, and the opportunity to hear perspectives of kids from the community. It will be cool to have a mostly female team to show the students that there are successful women in law.”

The Mock Appeal Program will culminate the last week of May, with students arguing their case before a panel of three judges in the Moakley Courthouse and courthouses across Massachusetts.

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Kayla Nordman

Kayla Nordman believes strongly in expanding access to comprehensive civic education to provide the next generation with the resources they need to uphold and expand upon the values of American democracy and create a more equitable future. Before joining Discovering Justice, she worked as a Legislative Intern at the Massachusetts State House and as a Program Manager for the Massachusetts Center for Civic Education. Kayla graduated from Suffolk University with a BA in International Relations.