The Gavel

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2019 Spring Gavel Issue

NJA 2019 Gavel Issue

President’s Message:

In 2002 I ran for Gilliam County Justice of the Peace. Six of us in our tiny Oregon County (population 1855) ran for the position upon the retirement of the previous Justice of the Peace, Chris Nix. I ended up winning the election, and that’s when the real work began. Given the size of our County, and everyone in it knowing one another, I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Chris Nix. I watched her conduct herself a certain way on and off the bench, and I too wanted to lead as she had led. I was privileged to shadow Judge Nix for the last month she held office. She gave me a crash course in being a judge. During my training period, I absorbed what she told me, I studied her on the bench, read statutes, wrote down what she told me for later reference, and I quizzed her. I knew that because she had been successful in a difficult position for the previous 18 years, I needed to listen and learn from her. I had a huge job ahead of me, and big shoes to fill. When I asked her how I should continue learning after my time with her was over, she recommended that I joined the National Judges Association which I did soon after taking the bench. She also recommended I join the Oregon Justices of the Peace Association, and attend the National Judicial College. I followed her recommendations on all of the above. Joining the National Judges Association was one the best moves I could have made as a judge. The single best resource a judge can have is other judges. I draw on knowledge I have gained from NJA education daily. When I weigh judicial decisions, I not only think of my local perspective, but also draw upon my state perspective as well as my national perspective. I have called upon and drawn knowledge from my NJA mentors over the years. I have asked myself on more than 4 one occasion, when struggling with a judicial decision, “what would Bill Sutton do, or what would Candace Hissong do?” Clarity then seems to come to me and a decision becomes clear. New judges are taking the bench each year. Every new judge taking the bench has an opportunity to become a better judge simply by joining NJA. These judges need to be made aware of NJA, not just to strengthen our membership but to strengthen the nation’s judiciary. Good judges have a gift to share, and that is the gift of knowledge and experience to share with new judges. If every judge in this Association is able to bring in one new judge, we would strengthen our Association by doubling the membership. I challenge each of you to bring in at least one new member in 2019. If you know of a judge retiring, tap the judge taking their place and make them aware of what NJA has to offer. Our new website is up and running, and new judges can be directed there (www. to get a snapshot of what NJA has to offer. Membership is one of the main focuses of the website. A membership application may be obtained directly from the website. We all need each other, as well as new, fresh ideas that new judges can bring to our Association, as well as the wisdom of our elder members. I look forward to seeing you all at the Annual Education Conference in Billings, Montana at the Historic Northern Hotel, June 9 through 14, 2019. I am available by phone or email with any questions you may have. Your input is encouraged and welcome. Respectfully, Cris Patnode, NJA President We note with sadness the passing of the Hon. Edwin Winkworth of Sauquoit, NY, NJA President in 2005-2006.

NJA President Cris Patnode


2018 Spring Gavel Issue

President’s Message:

Happy Spring everyone! I hope you all survived the flu, the snow, the rains and everything else winter had to throw at us. Now Spring is here and it’s time for new beginnings. The trees are starting to bud and the flowers will start popping up and the air smells fresh. Spring brings hope for things to come. One thing that’s growing quickly is the development for our new NJA website! The Executive Board along with Bill Sutton have been working AICTI, ( Aspen ), to get all the information about NJA to make our website a huge success. The site will be new and modern, easy to navigate. There will be links to articles from The Gavel, our video, pictures from past conferences and upcoming meetings to mention a few. We will also have the ability to pay our dues on line as well as conference registration fees! This is all so exciting…….and speaking about exciting, our Annual Education Conference in Williams, Arizona is approaching in May. Bill Sutton with Judge Rob Krombeen have put together an amazing week. Top notch education, great sightseeing, tours, food and just a wonderful week. Be ready for knowledge, fun, family and renewing friendships. If you have not registered please do so ASAP! As you know our association is looking for our members to step forward and run for office. We need you to seriously consider being more involved in NJA. We also need an alternate executive director. This person would serve in the event that the executive director was unable to attend a meeting or conference. Our organization is set up well, but we need good minds and willing bodies to keep it running at it’s best peak performance possible. We all know we are living in difficult times, the struggles our country, our schools and our families are going through. As we pray for strength and guidance lets pray for love and patience and a bright future for everyone. 8 So, in Williams, Arizona we will be giving the oath of President of NJA to Judge Cris Patnode. I would like to thank you all again for the honor of serving as your President for the past two years. It has been a wonderful experience full of learning, excitement and struggles. It’s provided me the opportunity to learn more about our organization and our members. For all this I am much richer. I want to say thank you to the members who have been the backbone of this community, who have stood up, served and continue to serve to help ensure a place for limited jurisdiction judges. As I said last year, it’s been my honor to steer this vessel we call NJA and also call our family. I will be forever grateful.

Respectfully, Judge Susan Carlson President, National Judges Association.


2017 Summer Gavel Issue

President’s Message:

Time has gone by quickly since our Annual Education Conference in Colorado Springs. I hope everyone who attended enjoyed themselves and left inspired. I felt the education we received was top notch, and we owe that to Tommy Webb. Thank you Judge Webb. As the conference chair, I will admit there were a few hiccups along the way as usual, but all in all I enjoyed the Embassy Suites, and the staff could not have been more pleasant to work with. In my 20 years of NJA membership, I have been fortunate to attend quite a few of our conferences. By the end of the week I look forward to our banquet and the time to relax and socialize together. It is also a time to give recognition to past officers and welcome new ones. The presentation of the MacEachern Award has always been something I looked forward to. At that time the past recipient of the award would come forward and tell us the nominee’s accomplishments, dedication, love of the Judiciary and of making a difference. I would sit and listen, looking around the room while attempting to determine who had accomplished all the things I was hearing. I was in awe of the person receiving the award and always felt very happy and proud for them. With that said, I want to thank the past MacEachern Award winners for bestowing this very special honor on me this year. That evening in Colorado Springs, I listened as Judge Gordon read her introduction for the next recipient of the award. Again I was looking around the room trying to decide who the person was. It was not until the last two or three sentences that I realized I was that person! I don’t know how to adequately describe how much this has meant to me. I always have and will always be proud to be a member of this great organization. 4 We as members of NJA recognize the challenges facing several if not all of our positions in the judiciary. It is now more important than ever to remain strong and unified. We must continue to receive the best education possible and to keep all of our membership informed of any challenges we are facing. Our leadership will continue to work for you. Once again, I thank you for the opportunity to serve as president of the National Judges Association. Bless you all.

Judge Susan Carlson


2016 Summer Gavel Issue

President’s Message:

Greetings! I was honored and humbled to accept the gavel as president this summer at our annual conference. Thanks to everyone I have worked with over the years on the executive board. I truly feel we have an opportunity to do wonderful things in NJA this next year, and I hope you’ll all join us in continuing to move this organization forward. What a wonderful conference we had in Biloxi, Mississippi. I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the Honorable Past President Tobey Bartee for all he has done for our Association. Judge Bartee not only served our Association as president for two terms, but also he served as the conference chairman in Mississippi. Anyone who has chaired an annual conference knows how much work that is. Our thanks to Judge Bartee and the entire Mississippi delegation for their wonderful hospitality in Biloxi! Also, a welldeserved congratulations to the Honorable Tina Gordon for receiving the MacEachern Award! I also want to take this opportunity to invite you all to the 2017 conference in Colorado Springs! Please make plans now to join your fellow judges in the beautiful Rocky Mountains April 30th through May 4th next year. We will have great education, camaraderie, opportunities to network with your peers and you’ll also get a well-deserved break in a beautiful place. The annual conference is a wonderful asset that is available to all of us, and I always come away feeling inspired. You all provide my inspiration and I thank you for that. Please make plans now to join us in Colorado next year! I want to remind you that NJA is your association, and we are here for you. We have the very best reference material there is and it is at your fingertips. Remember to reach out and utilize each other and connect with another member if there is a question or even just discussion to share. We are an association of people, who have dedicated our lives to being judges. We should utilize the knowledge and friendships we have worked so hard to build. We are currently preparing for our officers’ meeting this fall in Nevada, and I find myself reminiscing about our meeting last fall in Washington, DC. What a wonderful time we had in our Nation’s Capital getting a good dose 4 country. Each time I see some of the memorials and monuments my heart gets filled with pride to live in the best country in the world. Those feelings get elevated further by watching the Olympics which I’ve enjoyed so much this year. The Olympics aren’t the only thing we enjoy every four years. As you know, it is an election year and each presidential election is always a historic moment for our country. We don’t get political in NJA, but I do want to remind you to get out and vote for whomever you choose to support. Our right to vote and carry on our democracy is one of the great elements we have in this country. As the seasons change, and the summer turns into fall we are also reminded that time moves very quickly. We are already about two thirds through 2016 and we all know how fast the last few months of the year pass by. Make each day count, but remember to enjoy the journey as you go!

Susan Carlson

1 thought on “The Gavel”

  1. The Gavel always been inspirational as well as educational . Allen as always captured the essence of the judiciary as well as all the memorable moments of the many adventures and travels of the conferences . May God bless continue to bless NJA

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