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.



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.

Groundbreaking Report on LGBT Inequality in the California Courts

July 21, 2015 Comments off

The following Press Release is shared:

California, July 15, 2015 – Despite recent success at the Supreme Court, numerous challenges to LGBT equality remain.  Among the remaining frontiers for full LGBT equality is equal representation in the state & federal judiciary.  It is both ironic and sad that the very judicial institutions that we rely upon for our equality are themselves so unequal and un-inclusive of LGBT Americans.

The California LGBT Bar Coalition conducted a groundbreaking survey and found that LGBT representation on the bench is far from equal.  Among the key findings in this first in the nation survey:

  • There has never been an openly LGBT Justice of the California Supreme Court.
  • Currently, 45 of California’s 58 counties do not have any LGBT judges.  In other words, the LGBT community is not represented in the judiciary in 78% of the counties in California.
  • Out of 438 Los Angeles County trial court judges only nine (9) of those judges self-identified as LGBT.

The survey analyzes the latest data on LGBT judges at every level of the court, identifies deficiencies in the data collected under California’s SB 182, and offers comprehensive and concrete recommendations on how best to increase LGBT inclusion on the bench.

The California LGBT Bar Coalition (“CLBC”) is a group comprised of the Judicial Endorsements chairpersons from each of California’s regional LGBT bar associations.  The CLBC’s mission is to monitor, analyze and promote LGBT representation on the bench.

Constituent bar associations of the CLBC include

Tom Homann LGBT Law Association.  The Tom Homann LGBT Law Association (“THLA”) is the San Diego LGBT bar association.  THLA’s mission is to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues locally, nationally, and worldwide.  Visit thla.org for more information.

Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom.  Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) is the nation’s oldest and largest association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in the field of law. Founded in 1980, BALIF represents its members’ interests in the wider San Francisco Bay Area. BALIF members and supporters include San Francisco Bay Area judges, lawyers, law students and legal workers.  Visit balif.org for more information.

Lesbian Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles.  The Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (LGLA), founded in 1979, consists of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legal professionals, judges, law students, and their allies, all dedicated to furthering justice, equality, and the advancement of LGBT issues in California, throughout the United States, and worldwide.  Visit lgla.net for more information.

SacLEGAL.  Sacramento Lawyers for the Equality of Gays and Lesbians (SacLEGAL), Sacramento’s LGBT minority bar association, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.  Made up of attorneys, other legal professionals and legislative advocates and affiliated with the Sacramento County Bar Association, its mission is to promote access to justice and equality for members of the LGBT community through strong leadership, legislative advocacy, education, and participation in civic and social activities within the legal community and community at large.  Visit saclegal.org for more information.

Orange County Lavender Bar Association.  The Orange County Lavender Bar Association (OCLBA) is the official association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied attorneys, judges, and law students in Orange County.  Founded in 2010, OCLBA produces a dynamic series of programs that connect the bar and lay communities in Orange County to advocacy, education, charity, mentorship, networking, and community building activities that advance LGBT equality.  OCLBA is an affiliate of the Orange County Bar Association. Visit oclba.org for more information.



January 27, 2015 Comments off

The Association is proud to announce that our writing competition for this year has been posted by the National LGBT Bar Association, along with the list of the winners of the first two years of the competition. Law students are encouraged to enter.

Requirements include:


  • Diversity on the Bench; or
  • Judicial or legal ethics around LGBT Issues

ELIGIBILITY: Students must be enrolled in an ABA-accredited law school during the 2014 – 2015 academic year.

AWARDS: The International Association of LGBT Judges and the National LGBT Bar Association will award one applicant with a $1,500 monetary award as well as two $250 honorable mentions. The winner and any recipients of an honorable mention will receive complimentary registration to the 2015 Lavender Law Conference & Career Fair in Chicago. The winning entry may be posted on the American Judges Association’s webpage with excerpts published in their magazine.

FORMAT: Each entry should be a scholarly piece fit for publication in a law review. Entries should follow standard note format, including Bluebook (19th edi tion) citation form. All entries must be submitted in English. Each entry should be no longer than 25 single-sided pages with one-inch margins and 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced. The page limit includes footnotes. Footnotes should be single-spaced and 10-point font. Entries containing endnotes or including appendices or supplemental material will not be considered. Published papers or papers to be published in other publications during the entirety of the competition process are ineligible. Each individual may submit only one entry and group entries will not be accepted. Entries should be the sole work of the author and should not yet have undergone significant editing by others. Editing includes any significant revision as well as technical or substantive review of citations. Informal support, such as general comments on preliminary drafts, is allowed.

All entries must be submitted electronically in either Word or PDF format. Entrants must not include their name or the name of their school on the competition paper itself. Instead, participants must submit a separate cover page indicating their name, school, permanent address, telephone number, and a statement indicating that a preemption check has been completed as of the date of submission. We reserve the right to reject any submissions that do not conform to these standards, in particular those that list any identifying information on the submission directly.

DEADLINE: Entries must be submitted before the competition closing date of May 15, 2015 at 5:00pm Eastern Time. All entries must be submitted via email to judgescompetition@lgbtbar.org. Please write “Judges Writing Competition” in the subject line.

President’s Award to Weathers Among Annual Meeting Highlights

September 5, 2014 Comments off

For his years of dedicated service as Treasurer and countless other contributions, Judge Theodore M. Weathers (Superior Court of California, San Diego County) has been honored with the International Association of LGBT Judges President’s Award.

President D. Zeke Zeidler (CA) presented the award to Judge Weathers at the Association’s Annual Dinner, held on Saturday, August 23, 2014 in Manhattan. The award and dinner were highlights among the well-attended events surrounding the Association’s August 22nd Annual Meeting. Association members also participated on a number of panels (two of which were presented by the Association) at the concurrent National LGBT Bar Association’s 2014 Lavender Career and Law Conference.

Elected to serve as officers for 2014-2015 were Judges D. Zeke Zeidler, President; Victoria Kolakowski (CA), Vice-President; Theodore M. Weathers, Treasurer; and Larnzell Martin, Jr., Secretary (MD).

Beyond official business, members relaxed and enjoyed time together in New York City. Group activities included an August 21st tour of the historic New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division courthouse hosted by that Court’s Justice Paul G. Feinman, a Past President of the Association; an August 22nd cocktail reception hosted by Justice George J. Silver (NY); and an August 23rd brunch on Roosevelt Island, hosted by Justice Feinman and his spouse, Robert Ostergaard. It was all fuel for a busy year ahead.

Special thanks also go to Judge Shawn T. Kelly (NY) for his work with Justice Feinman and Justice Silver in planning activities and hosting members.

Pittman Nominated to Serve on United States District Court for Western District of Texas

July 2, 2014 Comments off

On June 26, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Robert Pitman to become an Associate Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

According to the White House press release, “Robert Lee Pitman has served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas since 2011. He previously served as a United States Magistrate Judge in the Western District of Texas from 2003 to 2011. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Pitman served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Texas from 1990 to 2003, serving as interim United States Attorney in 2001 and as Deputy United States Attorney from 2001 to 2003.”

“He worked as an associate at the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski from 1989 to 1990 and served as a law clerk to Judge David O. Belew Jr. of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas from 1988 to 1989. He received his J.D. in 1988 from the University of Texas at Austin and his B.S. from Abilene Christian University in 1985. Pitman also received a Master of Studies in Legal Research degree from the University of Oxford in 2011.”

The Victory Fund reports that “if confirmed, [Pittman] would [be] the first openly LGBT federal judge in the state. Pitman, a man accustomed to holding the distinction of being first, has served as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas since 2011, when he became the first openly LGBT U.S. Attorney in the state.”