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Former Chief Justice Barkett, four others, to be honored by the National Judicial College today in Miami

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Judge Rosemary Barkett

Judge Rosemary Barkett

Former Florida Chief Justice Rosemary Barkett will be among five legal luminaries honored for helping to uphold the rule of law when The National Judicial College (NJC) celebrates its 60th anniversary at an event in Miami April 27.

They will also participate in a panel discussion on upholding the rule of law.

Based in Reno, Nevada, the NJC is the country’s oldest, largest and most widely attended school for judges. Each year it educates judges from all 50 states. The categories of judges it serves, including state trial and appellate, administrative law, military and tribal, decide more than 95% of cases in this country.

Barkett became the state’s first female justice when she was appointed in 1984 to the Supreme Court by Gov. Bob Graham. In 1992, she was chosen by her colleagues to become the first woman chief justice. From 1994 to 2013, she served as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Since 2013 she has been a member of the Iran–United States Claims Tribunal located in The Hague, Netherlands.

In 2023, the judicial college is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its founding with six programs from coast to coast. The first took place in January in Los Angeles. Each is organized around a justice-related theme. For the Miami event the theme is Justice for All…Upholding the Rule of Law.

At this event, Barkett will be one of five individuals to receive the College’s Making the World a More Just Place Award. After the award ceremony, there will be a panel discussion among the five moderated by Miami attorney and former Florida Bar President Edward Blumberg, chair of the JNC’s Board of Trustees.

The other honorees are:

Judge DeAndrea Gist Benjamin

In February of this year Judge Benjamin was confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She previously served 12 years as a judge of the South Carolina Circuit Court for the Fifth Circuit and for seven years before that on the bench of the City of Columbia (South Carolina) Municipal Court.

Judge Thomas B. Griffith

Formerly a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Griffith is special counsel at Hunton Andrews Kurth. He was a member of the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States and a co-author of “Lost, Not Stolen: The Conservative Case that Biden Won and Trump Lost the 2020 Presidential Election.”

Senator Doug Jones

A former U.S. senator and U.S. attorney for Alabama, Jones is counsel at ArentFox Schiff and a distinguished senior fellow with the Center for American Progress. In the early 2000s, he successfully prosecuted two members of the Ku Klux Klan for their roles in the 1963 white supremacist terrorist bombing of a Birmingham church that left four Black girls dead. In 2022 he guided Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson through the nomination and Senate confirmation process.

Solicitor General Neal Katyal

A former acting solicitor general of the United States, Katyal is a partner at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C. By the time of the Miami event, he will have likely argued his 50th case before the Supreme Court of the United States. He is a familiar face on cable news programs and has played himself on Netflix’s “House of Cards” and Showtime’s “Billions.”

Moderator Edward Blumberg is a founder and partner in the Miami trial law firm of Deutsch Blumberg & Caballero, a past Florida Bar president, and a former member of the Board of Governors and the ABA House of Delegates.

The overarching theme of the College’s 60th anniversary celebrations is “JUSTICE FOR ALL … Our Pledge for 60 Years.”

“Nothing is more important in a democracy than preserving the rule of law, and nothing is more critical to preserving the rule of law than having the most competent, well-trained, diverse judiciary overseeing the cases that are argued and decided under our complex system of laws,” said Benes Aldana, the retired chief trial judge of the U.S. Coast Guard and president of the college since 2017.

“For over 60 years, The National Judicial College has carried out its central mission of improving the administration of justice by ensuring that judges have the knowledge, skills, and ethical grounding necessary to make fair and just decisions that uphold the law and protect the rights of all individuals,” Aldana said. “It is our strong belief that without a commitment to ongoing education and professional development, the judiciary risks losing public trust and failing to fulfill its vital role in safeguarding our democracy.”

The NJC’s remaining anniversary programs will be held later this year in New York City, Seattle, Las Vegas, and in the college’s headquarters city of Reno, Nevada.

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