The Florida Bar


June 19, 2014
Lisa Hall;,
National Association of Women Judges
(850) 508-7782

TALLAHASSEE – The National Association of Women Judges and the Informed Voters Project -- leaders of a groundbreaking civics education campaign that was developed by judges from courts across the nation -- garnered a regional Emmy award from the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the Public Service Announcement category on Saturday, June 14, in Silver Springs, Md., at the famed Fillmore Center.

Aimed at helping voters understand the importance of protecting courts from political influence and interference, the film “Fair and Free,” featuring former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, is part of the NAWJ’s effort to address what they see as a dangerous gap in civic literacy in our nation.

Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente, who served as the coordinating committee co-chairperson for the Informed Voters-Fair Judges campaign in Florida, lauded the efforts of those involved in the project.

“This public service announcement is the foundation of our voter education efforts in Florida, which are designed to help preserve the fairness and impartiality of our courts by keeping them free from special interests,” Justice Pariente said. “We are very grateful for the financial support of The Florida Bar, as they funded the production of the public service announcement.”

Florida Bar President Eugene K. Pettis was equally proud.

"The Florida Bar congratulates the National Association of Women of Judges and the Informed Voters Project of Florida on the regional Emmy award for the 'Fair and Free' film," President Pettis said. "We are proud to have been a part of this project from its inception. To see it honored in such a way is a testament to the hard work by everyone involved to help spread the message of informed voters and a fair and impartial judiciary in Florida."

The preservation of a fair and impartial legal system is a major focus of the NAWJ, the nation’s primary professional organization for female jurists in state, federal and administrative courts in all 50 states. Founded in 1979, the NAWJ counts more than 1,200 members.

Fellow Florida co-chair Linda Leali said that what sets the Informed Voters-Fair Judges project apart from other fair courts initiatives across the country is that it is the first to be developed and implemented by judges.

“Voters often do not exercise their vote for judicial officers because they are uninformed about the candidates and do not know where to access information about judges on the ballot or do not understand why the judges are on the ballot for a yes-or-no vote,” Leali said. “The Informed Voters-Fair Judges project is a multi-faceted education effort in Florida designed to reach voters of all ages through various platforms including broadcast and print media, social media and traditional speaker engagements. We have over 100 lawyers throughout the State of Florida trained to speak to our citizenry on the importance of exercising an informed vote when voting in a general election or merit selection process.”

The Informed Voters–Fair Judges project is a non-partisan voter education project developed to increase public awareness about the judicial system, to inform voters that politics and special-interest attacks have no place in the courts and to give voters the tools they need to exercise an informed vote in favor of fair and impartial courts.

“Each day in American courts, thousands of judges preside over cases ranging from traffic offenses to tax and land disputes, child abuse and murder. The judicial system reflects the fabric of life in this country. And unlike legislators, a judge must stand apart from political and partisan ideas, and ensure each litigant’s case receives a fair and impartial hearing, with a resolution based on the law. That is the foundation of the public’s trust and confidence in the courts,” said Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, a judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. and NAWJ President. “We are grateful to all of our campaign sponsors and partners who are helping us take this important message into our communities and to The Florida Bar for underwriting production of the video.”

To view the “Fair and Free” PSA in its entirety, or to learn more about the campaign, visit


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EDITORS: Please note The Florida Bar is not an association and "Association" is not part of our name. Proper reference is "The Florida Bar." Local bar organizations are properly termed "associations."

[Revised: 01-29-2015]