Orlando

June 13, 2016 Comments off

Adequate words cannot be found to express our sadness, anger, and outrage following yesterday’s murder of our sisters, brothers and allies at The Pulse in Orlando, Florida. To family and friends of the victims and the Orlando LGBT Community, the Association offers its love, sympathy and encouragement as you endeavor to somehow get through your losses and pain.

MASTER OF THE ROLLS

May 27, 2016 Comments off

May 26th, The Guardian reported that “Sir Terence Etherton, Britain’s first openly gay senior judge, has been appointed master of the rolls, making him head of the civil judiciary in England and Wales.” The article continues,

The 64-year-old lawyer’s promotion was confirmed by an announcement from Downing Street on Thursday morning.

Etherton, who has been on the court of appeal and is currently chancellor of the high court, was a member of the British Olympic fencing team for sabre in 1980.

He will be the second most senior judge in England and Wales, outranked only by the lord chief justiceLord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and will receive a salary of around £220,000.

Educated at St Paul’s school in west London and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Etherton has been a judge since 2001 and was the first to become so while publicly declaring his sexuality.

He entered a civil partnership in 2006 with Andrew Stone, which was then converted to a marriage in 2014 in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony at West London Synagogue.

On joining the appeal court in 2008, Etherton said: “My appointment also shows that diversity in sexuality is not a bar to preferment up to the highest levels of the judiciary.”

Etherton, who takes up the post in October, succeeds Lord Dyson, who has been master of the rolls since 2012.

Thomas said: “I am delighted to congratulate Sir Terence Etherton on his appointment as master of the rolls. Following his excellent work as chancellor over the last three years, I look forward to continuing to work with him closely in the major reform of our system of justice.”

With highest regards, we salute Sir Terence Etherton!

HISTORY CHECK: JUDGE BENJAMIN J.F. CRUZ

March 20, 2016 Comments off

A correction is necessary regarding the confirmation of Justice Maite Oronoz Rodriguez as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico. All the best information accessed by the news media was that Chief Justice Oronoz Rodriguez is the first openly LGBT Chief Judge in the United States. The response of a Founding Member of the Association was that Retired Judge Benjamin J.F. Cruz, current Vice-Speaker of the Guam Legislature, was actually the first openly LGBT Judge to serve as Chief Judge. He served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Guam from April 21, 1999 until his retirement from the judiciary August 31, 2001.

A May 3, 2013 resolution  of the Guam Judicial Council granting Judge Cruz the Guam Judiciary Hustisia Award includes the following regarding his some of his accomplishments:

Cruz was appointed to the Superior Court of Guam in 1984 by Governor Bordallo, where he spent ten years of his term presiding over Juvenile and Family Court. During his term on the Juvenile and Family Court, then-Judge Cruz took very seriously and personally his role in helping our island’s youth escape a life of crime and abuse, rendering hundreds of decisions which changed lives, helped families heal, and taught troubled youth to respect the law. Cruz was elevated to the newly created Guam Supreme Court by Governor Carl T.C. Gutierrez in 1997, becoming the first openly gay Chief Justice of any state court in the United States, standing thus as a pioneer to many beyond Guam’s shores.

After retiring from the bench, Cruz was elected Senator in 2004, serving in the 28th through 32nd Guam Legislatures, where he presently serves as Vice Speaker. He is credited with leadership on difficult but non-partisan issues, among which were increasing Guam’s minimum wage; strengthening Guam’s alcohol, tobacco, and substance abuse laws; and repealing the statute of limitations for the prosecution of criminal sexual offenses against children. Vice Speaker Cruz has been open about his own struggle to overcome childhood sexual abuse, and this struggle in particular has driven his determination to protect children from abuse.

We also celebrate Judge Cruz!

Justice Maite Oronoz Rodríguez, Nation’s First LGBT Chief Justice

March 8, 2016 Comments off

February 23, 2016, Lambda Legal announced:

Late yesterday, the Puerto Rico Senate confirmed Associate Justice Maite Oronoz Rodriguez as Chief Justice of the commonwealth’s highest court. She will be the first openly LGBT chief justice in the country. Lambda Legal released the following statement from Staff Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan:

“The confirmation of Maite Oronoz Rodríguez as the first openly LGBT Chief Justice in Puerto Rico and the United States makes history, breaks barriers, and marks a momentous step towards achieving a judiciary that reflects full and rich diversity of our country. A diverse judiciary serves not only to improve the quality of justice, it boosts public confidence in the courts.

“In June 2014, Lambda Legal praised Oronoz Rodriguez’s confirmation as an Associate Justice on the Puerto Rico Supreme Court after we sent Gov. García Padilla a letter urging him to ensure that any potential nominee’s judicial philosophy includes a commitment to rule fairly and impartially in cases involving LGBT and HIV-positive litigants and to seek thoughtful jurists who reflect Puerto Rico’s rich diversity.

“We are pleased with the Puerto Rico Senate’s decision to swiftly confirm now-Chief Justice Oronoz Rodríguez to the Commonwealth’s highest court. * * *

“Courts matter to the LGBT community in Puerto Rico and across the country. We must care about the courts if we care about our rights, our families, our neighbors and our society. We look forward to continuing our work in Puerto Rico on behalf of LGBT people and those living with HIV.”

February 13, 2016, shortly after the nomination, El Nuevo Dia reported

In accepting the nomination to head the Supreme Court, Judge Oronoz Rodríguez promised to give physical, economic and procedural access to any and all Puerto Ricans in the courts of Puerto Rico.

“I am of those who think it’s time to take off the robe, to step down and receive with open citizenship that requires human justice arms. Only then we begin to restore confidence they deserve the vast majority of judges and judges worthy of our system, “said Oronoz Rodríguez.

JUSTICE MARGARET H. CHUTICH FIRST OPENLY GAY JUDGE ON MINNESOTA SUPREME COURT

February 9, 2016 Comments off

January 23rdMinnesota Public Radio News   reported:

Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday unveiled a groundbreaking pick to the Minnesota Supreme Court, naming Minnesota Appeals Court Judge Margaret Chutich to the state’s highest court, making her its first openly gay justice.

Chutich was a finalist the last time Dayton selected a Supreme Court justice. He first appointed her to the Court of Appeals in 2011. She is a former assistant dean at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and has worked in the state attorney general’s office and as a federal prosecutor.

In Minnesota, governors have sole discretion in naming judges. While they must periodically stand for election, they don’t require legislative confirmation.

Dayton said he was aware of the groundbreaking nature of his choice but told reporters, “I would have picked her regardless of that consideration.”

Chutich said she was looking forward to serving Minnesota in her new post. During the announcement, she recognized Penny Wheeler, her partner of 20 years and wife of two years.

“I was born and raised in Minnesota, so serving on this court is meaningful to me,” Chutich said.

The symbolism of being the high court’s first openly gay justice “is very important” and reflects the court’s need to embody its citizenry, she added. “If there are gay attorneys, gay people thinking about going to law school, I think it’s important that they know there aren’t barriers to their dreams.”

Dayton has now named four members to the seven-seat court. Three of them are women. But one, Justice Wilhelmina Wright is leaving to join the federal bench. Chutich replaces Wright.

While Chutich is a pioneering appointment in Minnesota, the highest courts in Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Vermont have had openly gay justices.

Dayton on Friday also named Hennepin County District Judge Diane Bratvold to replace Chutich on the state appeals court.

The coverage of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press Twin Cities Pioneer Press   included, among other information,

Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday appointed Appeals Court Judge Margaret Chutich to the Minnesota Supreme Court, adding a gifted tennis player and fluent Croatian speaker to the state’s highest bench.

Chutich is also the first openly gay member of the high court and will join a court with two other female justices.

“If there are gay attorneys, gay people thinking about going to law school, I think it’s important that they know there aren’t barriers to their dreams,” said Chutich, joined by her partner of 20 years and wife of two years, Allina Health CEO Penny Wheeler, and her 16-year-old daughter, Olivia, at the announcement.

Čestitk Justice Chutich.

KAEL MCKENZIE, CANADA’S FIRST TRANSGENDER JUDGE

January 19, 2016 Comments off

The Globe and Mail was among the media publishing information regarding the appointment of Kael McKenzie to the Provincial Court of Manitoba.  It is there reported,

Canada’s first transgender judge has been appointed to provincial court in Manitoba.

Kael McKenzie, a Crown attorney from Winnipeg, was officially designated a judge on Dec. 17 and will begin his new job immediately.

With his appointment to provincial court, Mr. McKenzie becomes the third openly trans judge now practising in North America. The first, Victoria Kolakowski, of Alameda County, Calif., was appointed in 2010.

Many are calling Mr. McKenzie’s appointment “a Canadian milestone.”

Before his promotion, Mr. McKenzie was a Crown prosecutor for five years in family, commercial and civil law. He graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2006 and has been an active member of both the legal and LGBTQ communities since, co-chairing the Canadian Bar Association’s sexual-orientation and gender-identity conference from 2012 to 2014.

Mr. McKenzie is also serving as vice-president of the Manitoba Bar Association executive committee, the Manitoba chair of the Canadian Bar Association, and president of the Rainbow Resource Centre – which serves Manitoba’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and two-spirit communities. He also served on the Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council.

The article shares more about Judge McKenzie.  Among the additional coverage is included at Vice News, Kael McKenzie Didn’t Set Out to Be a Trailblazer — Now He’s Canada’s First Transgender Judge and CJAD 800 News, Transgender judge in Manitoba credits hard work for his appointment.

Congratulations, Judge McKenzie.

Judge Victoria Kolakowski, Association’s New President

August 8, 2015 Comments off

Judge Victoria S. Kolakowski of the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda County, was elected to serve as President of the Association at our August 6th Annual Meeting.  Formerly the Vice-President, Judge Kolakowski has the distinction of serving as the organization’s first transgender President.  Judge Kolakowski succeeds Superior Court of Los Angeles County Judge D. Zeke Zeidler who served as President of the Association for four years during which the number of members more than doubled and the Association successfully undertook a number of projects in partnership with the National LGBT Bar Association and the Williams Institute.

A day after her election, August 7th, The Huffington Post Gay Voices featured Judge Kolakowski’s contribution, The Courage of Being Transgender in Public.

Joining Judge Kolakowski as officers of the Association are Judge Daniel Anders of the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County, Vice President; Judge Larnzell Martin, Jr. of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland, Secretary; and Judge Theodore M. Weathers of the Superior Court of California for San Diego County, Treasurer.  The term of the officers is until the August 2016 Annual Meeting which will be held during next year’s Annual Lavender Law Conference in Washington, D.C.