Messages From the FJA President

Honorable Cynthia M. Rufe

 

 

 

 

 

 
FJA President Cynthia M. Rufe

 
FJA Updates Re: Daniel Anderl Judicial Security Bill
February 20, 2021

Greetings, FJA Colleagues.

In December, the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security Bill was presented for unanimous consent to the United States Senate, which unfortunately did not pass the bill. We are hopeful that this bi-partisan legislation will soon be presented to the new Congress as it continues to have consistent and ardent support for securing its measures for the safety of our judges. Most vocal of those supporters is Judge Esther Salas, our colleague, who has been a tireless, articulate and persuasive advocate for the improvements addressed in the bill that was named for her only child, Daniel Anderl.

Judge Salas shares the below news link with you. Her interview with Gayle King is upcoming. Also covering the important issues concerning the threats to judicial security are 48 Hours (Saturday, 2/20) and 60 Minutes (2/21).

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/esther-salas-sonia-sotomayor-60-minutes-2021-02-19/

The Federal Judges Association will continue to support increased security measures to protect our Judiciary. We have and continue to support the Judicial Conference of the United States and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts which continue to work tirelessly for the necessary improvements to adequately protect us, our families and our court family.

Sincerely,

Cynthia M. Rufe,
President

Holiday Greetings from the FJA

December 24, 2020

Dear Colleagues,
Please join another of our esteemed FJA colleagues, Circuit Judge James E. Graves, as he brings us on a virtual tour of his wonderful Black Santa collection. Judge Graves serves as a Fifth Circuit Director, and with his permission shares with us his delightful tradition. Hopefully this will bring a little joy and some smiles into your holiday season.

Enjoy and special thanks to Judge Graves.

Happy Holidays to all!

View the Virtual Tour

Compliments of your FJA President and the Communications Committee


 

Important Updates For FJA Members Re: the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act 2020

December 18, 2020

The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act 2020, S. 4711, was presented for unanimous consent to the United States Senate today by Senators Menendez and Booker. Due to the objection of one Senator, the consent was not achieved, and it will be reintroduced in January. This bill has strong bipartisan support in both Houses ( H.R. 8591) and is supported by the Judicial Conference of the United States Courts. The Administrative Office has sought its measures to meet the immediate and ongoing security needs of the federal judiciary. Our Association and the associations of the Federal Magistrate Judges and the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges have actively sought the Bills’ passage. Numerous legal groups have endorsed the Bills in the Senate and the House. Here is what happened today:

https://www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?507342-1/senate-session&noMax&clipping&start=23490

https://newjerseyglobe.com/congress/kentucky-senator-blocks-federal-daniels-law/

We thank the Senators for their efforts on our behalf and offer our continued support to pass the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act 2020 into law. The Administrative Office of the United States Courts has been tireless in their advocacy for improved security measures for the federal courts, and deserves our gratitude. As Director James Duff reported today, “ It is disappointing that this critical legislation, which enjoys bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, did not obtain the unanimous consent required to pass the Senate in this busy lame duck session. Nevertheless, we are extremely grateful to those who have supported this bill and fully expect it to be taken up at the start of the next session of Congress. The nation’s judges depend on it.” See U.S. Courts News, December 17, 2020.

Our dedication to this noble and necessary cause will not wane. Our judicial colleagues that have suffered unspeakable personal losses serve as constant reminders of what measures must be achieved for adequate and appropriate security for judges. The new year will bring with it new challenges, and we will continue to meet them head on. 

Respectfully, 

Cynthia M. Rufe
President, Federal Judges Association 


 

FEDERAL JUDGES ASSOCIATION CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE PASSAGE OF “DANIEL’s LAW”

December 11, 2020

Senate Bill 4711 and House Bill 8591 are pending in Congress with bipartisan support.    Our Senators and Representatives genuinely appear invested in passing the proposed judicial security bill.  We have not heard an unresolved objection.

But Congress has a variety of priorities especially at years end. This legislation, officially titled the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2020, is pending as more challenges to our security and our families’ safety become evident. The window of time for passage in Congress has quickly narrowed. In past years, our Judges have sought protection, especially following the fatal attack on Judge Lefkow’s family, which we have not forgotten. Judge Lefkow has devoted herself to safeguarding our security, and does so after her own unspeakable loss. Here is what she has been doing for you, for all of us:

https://wgntv.com/news/chicago-news/turning-family-tragedy-into-hope-for-others-federal-judges-work-to-make-the-bench-a-safer-place/

Yet another tragedy has occurred, with yet another judge losing her family. 

This is about more than you.  Judge Esther Salas moves with this knowledge more than anyone could ever envision. We are lead by Judge Esther Salas, who with great strength of character and charisma tirelessly speaks out about her recent tragedy whenever she is asked.  Judge Salas’ voice has been recognized by numerous news associations. We urge you to take a few minutes to read of Judge Salas’ efforts, including in https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/08/opinion/esther-salas-murder-federal-judges.html

Yet also see what additional horrors this Judge must suffer:

https://newjerseyglobe.com/media/photos-of-federal-judges-home-being-sold-by-gannett/

Time is short.  Your FJA colleagues are working to ensure this legislation for our, and our families’ benefit.

How many incidents and tragedies are needed before the protections of Daniel’s Law are in place? What can you do?

We understand Senators and Congresspersons are busy.  But we expect they will understand your interest if you take a few moments and contact them.  We need to impress upon them the severity of this risk both to our families and to judicial independence first framed in Article III.  Please contact your Senator and Congressperson today. The bill is on their agendas.   Call their Chief of Staff and Judiciary counsel.  Urge them to urge their leadership to move this crucial bipartisan bill through this Congress.  We cannot risk further tragedy because we did not act.  

We fully support the good work of the Administrative Office on our behalf. Please refer to Director James Duff’s December 7 statement:  https://www.uscourts.gov/news/2020/12/04/judiciary-calls-passage-security-legislation

The time is now. Judicial safety cannot be any longer pushed aside. 

Cynthia M. Rufe
President


 

A Message From Your FJA Colleagues: "We'll Be Back!"

November 27, 2020


Dear Friends:

With the Thanksgiving season upon us, a wonderful and unexpected gift has come from our wonderful colleagues Judges Jennifer Elrod (CA 5) and Charles Eskridge (SDTX). If you haven’t seen their recent “Music Video” titled “We’ll Be Back” you are in for a real treat! They ably adapted music from the Broadway blockbuster Hamilton to describe (all of our) 2020 Covid-19 experiences and our continued hope that we will soon be back to some sense of normality.

We invite you to take a moment, click on the link that will bring you to our current FJA website, scroll to the bottom of the Home Page and you will see it under “News from the FJA” (we are working diligently on a new and much enhanced website that will be coming to all of us in the not too distant future), smile and enjoy their message in this time of stress for all of us and admire their incredible extrajudicial talent. Thanks Jennifer and Charles for lifting all of our spirits!


Visit the FJA Website

A Happy and Safe Thanksgiving to all from your FJA President and the Communication Committee.



FJA News

October 27, 2020


Greeting to all members of the Federal Judges Association. I wish to keep you informed of the work the Officers, Executive Committee, Board of Directors and committees being accomplished. We will meet virtually on November 14 and 15 to address all FJA business and concerns at our Annual Meeting. Please contact your circuit Directors for news and reports. 

JUDICIAL SECURITY - FJA Supports Senate Bill 4711, the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act 2020 
Since our last message, FJA officers, Legislative Committee and Security Committee continue to meet with representatives of the JCUS Security Committee and the Administrative Office, as well as with the Federal Magistrate Judges Association and the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges Association to collaborate and coordinate our efforts to support Senate Bill 4711, the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act, 2020. Daniel was the son of federal district Judge Esther Salas who was killed by a gunman at her home in July. Judge Salas‘s husband, Mark Anderl was gravely wounded as well. 

Please see the FJA letter of support sent last week to all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee urging that body to act on this bill and to approve appropriations necessary to adequately implement its provisions.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Memorial Site
The Homepage of the FJA website highlights members’ memorials to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Please see recent submissions by Judge Gene K. Pratter, Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Judge Karen Schreier, District of South Dakota.

You are welcome to submit your own memory, article, video presentation or comments. Justice Ginsburg touched the lives of so many judges, and her legacy is complemented by the personal interactions you may wish to share with your colleagues. Please share your memories at fja@federaljudgesassoc.org.

Civics Education Resources —2020 Virtual Justice Camp
Check out the FJA website civics education programs in ready made virtual form.

Our Civics Education and Outreach Committee has collected and posted programs, such as the recent “Virtual Justice Camp “ sessions to help you continue your community and school outreach in pandemic times. The link also includes a webinar on such topics as : Anatomy of a Lawsuit, Implicit Bias, Internet Safety and Security, Introduction to Criminal Law, the First Amendment, and a program on the 19th Amendment 100th Anniversary celebration, “Yet, She is Advancing.”

Educational Opportunity Free to FJA Members
All FJA members are invited to join the Global Advanced E-Discovery Institute Virtual Meeting, November 12-13, 2020 sponsored by Georgetown Law Office of Executive and Continuing Legal Education. AEDI is an academic and non-partisan event. Join in whole or in part, at no cost. Link is provided below:

Global Advanced E-Discovery Institute Virtual Meeting

 

Respectfully submitted, 

Cynthia M. Rufe, President

Happy Halloween!


 

FJA Remembers Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 30, 2020

 

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
1933 - 2020


We join in unison to mourn the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1993 until her passing on September 18, 2020.  Justice Ginsburg honored not only the rule of law, but the people it serves.  A true champion of justice, she taught us to persevere and persist in providing fair, equal and impartial justice.  A role model to all, regardless of gender, her strength and gentility won our hearts.  Her intellect and agile crafting of legal argument won our minds.  She inspired us all, to achieve, to overcome obstacles, personal and professional, and to never relent in the pursuit of justice.  

 

Justice Ginsburg most recently headlined our Agenda at the 2018 Federal Judges Association Quadrennial, as she had done many times previously, generously sharing with us insights from her official biography,  My Own Words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Her diminutive stature belied her omnipresent wit and clarity and enormous intellect.    She exhibited delight in the surroundings of so many adoring Article III judges.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was, and will always be our star, our rock, our role model and our friend.  Thank you for your service, Justice Ginsburg and may you rest in well earned peace.  


Cynthia M. Rufe, President

Our FJA Colleagues are invited to add your personal memorials to the FJA tribute page. Click here to read more and to share your memories or condolences.


 

Federal Judges Association Reports on Improved Judicial Security Measures

September 18, 2020
 
The officers and leadership of the Federal Judges Association continue their resolve to seek increased budget allocations, personnel, facilities and resources for improved judicial security for federal judges. As reported to our members on July 27 and September 1, our committees continue to meet and collaborate with the Chair of the JCUS Security Committee, representatives of the Federal Magistrate Judges Association, and the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges all to support the diligent efforts of the Administrative Office in fulfilling the objectives of the Judicial Conference. The measures proposed, as outlined on the JNET
http://jnet.ao.dcn/legislation/legislative-summary/judicial-conference-legislative-proposals-and-talking-points
are necessary steps to achieve improved safety.
 
To that end, we have also sent the following letter of support to Director Duff:

FJA Letter to Director Duff

 
We will continue to act on your behalf, and to work with the AO through the legislative and appropriations processes, ably led by the FJA Security Committee, chaired by Judge Henry Hudson, and the FJA Legislative Committee, chaired by Judge Charles Simpson.
 
What can you do?
With the certainty that judicial security is as important to our democracy as it is to the personal safety of judges, our families and our court families, we remind our membership of those services and options currently available to aid in our protection. We welcome the advice of Judge Henry Hudson, Chair of the FJA Security Committee and former Director of the United States Marshall Service, who offers the following information in addition to the published SECURITY TIPS, which can be accessed on the FJA website and on US Courts.gov site. Here is the link to SECURITY TIP # 29.
 
What else can you do?
All of us were shaken by the horrific attack at the home of our colleague, Judge Esther Salas, in July. Judge Salas’ son, Daniel was killed. Her husband, Mark Anderl who practices law in Northern New Jersey, was seriously wounded. It is unclear whether or when Mr. Anderl will be able to resume practice, and as he fights to recover, he will require extensive rehabilitation at home. Family and friends have established a private trust to render assistance, and Mr. Anderl’s law partner, David Oakley, has asked me to forward information about the trust for anyone who may be interested. Questions should be directed to Mr. Oakley, and/or the Wells Fargo ESMADA TRUST Account. Please see attached for further information.
As always, your assistance and suggestions are welcome. Please contact your Circuit Directors, Executive Committee or Officers to help.
 
Thank you.
  
Sincerely,
 
Cynthia M. Rufe
President

Message from the President

September 1, 2020

As the summer season draws to a close, our federal courts are busy resurrecting in-person court proceedings in both criminal and civil matters, and scheduling jury trials. The Covid-19 pandemic has necessitated revisions in court operations, some of which, such as remote access to justice, may well serve litigants, members of the Bar and the public into the future as an adjunct to traditional courthouse access to justice. Federal Judges in all of our very busy courts, along with federal court employees, have continued to admirably serve the law and the courts. This continues to be our mandate.

In the midst of the COVID-19 difficulties, we are wrestling with the unthinkable tragedy of one of our own, Judge Esther Salas. While none of us can fully comprehend her loss, her colleagues in the FJA are determined to support her own call, and ours, for stronger security measures for federal judges. As we have written to you in the past, the Officers, Executive Committee and the FJA Security Committee have formulated specific objectives towards that goal, are collaborating with the United States Magistrates Judges Association and the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges to advance these goals, and to offer assistance and support to JCUS, its Committee on Judicial Security, and to the AO working on our behalf.

 

**ANNOUNCEMENT**

FJA Treasurer J. Michelle Childs takes the reins of the American Bar Association Judicial Division. Our congratulations to Judge Childs!
As her new term begins, Judge Childs offers continued association and collaboration with the FJA on common goals, not the least being to keep Judges safe. The Judicial Division is hosting a virtual webinar on judicial security on October 14 as part of a Wellness series. Please contact Judge Childs for additional information. The webinar speakers are US Marshal Thomas Pellicane, who is currently dealing with the Judge Salas incident; Retired Judge James Brandlin who has taught Judicial Security and Privacy Protection for years at the National Judicial College and elsewhere; Attorney Karen Randall Painter, a professor and consultant on cybersecurity; and Michael Prodan, a Chief Agent-in-charge with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division who is responsible for protecting members of the judiciary, legislature, and executive branches of South Carolina.

 

Important Deadline for Special HCRA/LPHCRA Open Enrollment Period SEPTEMBER 17, 2020
The Judiciary Benefits Center has offered the one-time opportunity to change your contributions and it is not required that you be directly affected by Covid-19, experience a qualifying life event, or provide documentation to make this change. For specifics please consult the JBC Home Page through JENIE or contact the JBC at 1-877-207-3220.

 

Civics Education Goes Virtual
The Federal Judges Association continues to provide our members access to current programs on our website. Please see the variety of civics education programs, including commemorative 19th Amendment programs courtesy of our judges and the ABA Task Force headed by FJA Past President Margaret McKeown. Many programs can be delivered virtually. Now is the time to contact schools and integrate our courts’ civics education lessons into the remote curriculum. For additional information please contact FJA Civics Education Committee Co-Chairs Nannette Olivette Brown and Janis Sammartino.

Thank you, and Happy Fall! 

Cynthia M. Rufe,
FJA President


Notice On Behalf of Judge Esther Salas

August 4, 2020

Dear FJA Members,

We are writing on behalf of our dear colleague, Esther Salas.  She has asked the FJA to communicate that she is deeply moved by the outpouring of love and support from fellow members of our judicial family.  Her heart is lifted by your concern.  It pains her that she is not in a position to respond right now, but wants you to know that she has heard you, and looks forward to the time that she can respond to each of us individually.  In the meantime, please know that she returns the love she has felt, and asks that you keep her and her family in your prayers.

You may also wish to view Esther Salas' video statement: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JPlcbW5aJs

 

We continue to extend our support to Judge Salas and her husband, Mark Anderl. Please send your condolences to a special Post Office box and/ or dedicated email site created by the District Court of New Jersey to accommodate messages:

Email Box
condolences@njd.uscourts.gov

P.O. Box
U.S. District Court
Attn.: J. Salas Condolences
P.O. Box 1900
Newark, NJ 07101

 

Sincerely,

Cynthia M. Rufe
President


A Few Thoughts In Troubled Times

July 27, 2020

It is with great sadness that the Federal Judges Association sends our deepest condolences to our colleague, Judge Esther Salas, and her family who were the targets of unthinkable violence last week, resulting in the loss of her son, Daniel Anderl, and serious injury to her husband, Mark Anderl. The Officers of our association have conveyed our deepest sympathy to Judge Salas with our wishes for a speedy recovery for her husband.

With the certainty that judicial security is as important to our democracy as it is to the personal safety of judges, our families and our court families, we wish to take this moment to remind our membership of those services and options currently available to aid in our protection. We welcome the advice of Judge Henry Hudson, Chair of the FJA Security Committee and former Director of the United States Marshals Service, who offers the following information:

In the aftermath of the recent tragedy at the home of our colleague, Judge Esther Salas, I want to remind FJA members of the importance of security consciousness.  This horrendous incident is also a reminder that our members should take advantage of protective measures available to them and their families, particularly when they are the subject of persistent, derisive commentary or other suspicious activity.  Needless to say, in the current climate we live in, judges and their families should strive to lower their public profile while increasing their overall awareness, especially away from the courthouse.

Given the controversial nature of our job, some spirited public commentary and criticism is unavoidable.  However, when a pattern of escalating personal and abrasive disparagement is detected, it is time to alert the United States Marshals Service (USMS).  This will enable your district judicial security inspector, or other threat management professional, to evaluate and assess the level of potential risk to you and your family and develop a security response plan to mitigate the increased risk posed. 

The threat management process will often involve what is known as “gathering protective intelligence.” It is a key component in the initial analysis of any potentially threatening communications or activity. As our Security Committee explained in Security Tip #22, protective intelligence is a critical element of any judicial protection strategy. The signs of danger can be subtle, particularly to the untrained eye. USMS judicial security inspectors and district threat investigators are trained in behavioral analysis, primarily what patterns of behavior warrant intervention or heightened security response or protection. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish spirited criticism from a veiled threat, especially in isolation. Analyzing critical behavior characteristics to assess the potential for violence is the mission of USMS protective intelligence investigators, district threat investigators, and the Judicial Security Division. The FJA fully supports the USMS’s protective intelligence strategy and encourages full cooperation from our members.  The more information USMS investigators have available, the more reliable the threat assessment and protective strategy.

We realize that the USMS is unable to constantly monitor the internet or newspapers for potentially threatening or otherwise inappropriate comments about members of the judiciary. An excellent resource available in some circuits is the use of law library personnel to scan these sources for hostile commentary about members of the judiciary. The FJA strongly supports the use of such available personnel to harvest threatening communications for USMS to review.

To ensure maximum home security, the FJA also recommends that all judges avail themselves of home security surveys provided by the USMS. This entails a comprehensive review of the security features of a judge’s home, including locks, doors, windows, shrubs, and alarm systems. To provide maximum protection for your family, judges may want to consider the installation of doorbell ring/camera systems. These devices would enable the identification of the person at the door and allow you or your family members to communicate any instructions from inside the home. If there is an unexpected delivery, we recommend that you instruct that the package be left on the steps and away from the door.

I join the FJA in sending our deepest sympathy to the Salas family. I strongly encourage each of our members to evaluate his or her home security plan.  The USMS stands ready to not only conduct a thorough home security inspection, but also help you develop a comprehensive off-site and home security strategy.

As we move forward to strengthen judicial security, we are resolute in our support of the efforts and initiatives of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and the United States Marshals Service. We also extend our support to Judge Salas and her husband, Mark Anderl. Out of concern for their privacy, please send your condolences to a special Post Office box and/ or dedicated email site created by the District Court of New Jersey to accommodate messages:

Email Box
condolences@njd.uscourts.gov

P.O. Box
U.S. District Court
Attn.: J. Salas Condolences
P.O. Box 1900
Newark, NJ 07101

Sincerely,

Richard Clifton
President-Elect

Cynthia M. Rufe
President

Marilyn L. Huff
Immediate Past President

Karen E. Schreier
Secretary

Henry Hudson
Chair, Security Committee

J. Michelle Childs
Treasurer


Notice of FJA Board of Directors Meeting Postponement

March 13, 2020

Dear FJA Board of Directors,

Yesterday the Officers and Executive Committee met to consider the COVID-19 virus public health emergency. After a general discussion regarding actions being considered and taken by courts around the country in response to the virus, we unanimously agreed that the physical gathering for our Annual meeting must be cancelled. We intend to schedule an interim meeting of the full Board of Directors on same date, April 19, by telephone to address our business and to receive committee reports. We also hope to schedule an in person meeting later this year.

Next Steps:

  • Airline Reservations – You should contact your airline to cancel your reservation. Most, if not all, of the major domestic airlines are waiving cancellation fees and/or issuing credit vouchers for future travel. As FJA does plan to reschedule this meeting for the fall, you may wish to obtain a credit voucher and use it towards your flight to the rescheduled board meeting. If you do, in fact, incur fees, you may submit these as reimbursable expenses to FJA using the travel reimbursement form. No member of the Board of Directors should suffer any personal financial loss from the cancellation of the meeting. Board members are encouraged to take steps to minimize costs to the organization. MSP is prepared to assist with these efforts.

Please be sure you act on your reservation according to your airline's policy. For your convenience, please see the major airlines’ current cancellation policies below.

Delta’s current cancellation policy
American’s current cancellation policy
Southwest’s current cancellation policy
United’s current cancellation policy
Jet Blue’s current cancellation policy

  • Teleconference April 19 - In the coming days you will receive dial-in instructions to participate in a teleconference April 19. This meeting will take place in lieu of our originally-scheduled in-person meeting, from Noon - 2pm ET.

As always, if you have questions, please contact FJA's offices at fja@federaljudgesassoc.org or (301) 358-4442.

Sincerely,

Judge Cynthia M. Rufe
President


 

Letter From the President, to FJA 2020 Board of Directors

January 17, 2020

Volunteer

Greetings! As you begin your new terms as Federal Judges Association Circuit Directors, I welcome you as the elected representatives of our Article III colleagues. Currently, the FJA is 1150 members strong. Thank you for your willingness to devote your nonjudicial time to improving and protecting the status of the federal judiciary.

I hope to greet each of you personally at our annual Board of Directors meeting in Denver, April 18 & 19, 2020. Registration materials will be sent shortly, and logistics will be provided by our Administrators. Your attendance is required. There is much work to do.

Not only is your participation necessary at the annual meeting, but it is your duty as an elected Circuit Director to contribute now as a working member of our FJA committees. Some of you have reached out to committee chairs and myself concerning your interests. Some of you continue on committees from prior appointments. I ask each of you to respond to me, immediately, for new or renewed appointments to a committee or committees. Please note your interests and prioritize those interests. I am anxious that you join our important work now.

Orientation for new Directors will take place in Denver on the date of your arrival. In addition to the Executive Committee meeting that day, committee meetings will be held. Please arrange your travel to arrive in time for all events on both dates. I am happy to speak with each of you and will respond to your emails.

Per my last message to all members, I asked for examples or anecdotal information about how the last governmental shutdown affected your courts and your employees. We have recently avoided a repeat of last year with the passage of FY 2020, but the allotments are less than requested and many courts are running at less than optimum financing. We can be more effective advocates if we base our actions on real life examples of what has happened in the courts throughout the federal system. Please reach out to your members, Chief Judges and Clerks of Court for such information.

I also ask you to canvas your Circuit membership for feedback on the most recent Exposure Draft presented by the Committee on Codes of Conduct as Advisory Opinion No. 117. We are addressing a timely and appropriate FJA response.

It is my privilege to be working with each of you. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Cynthia M. Rufe,
President


New Years Greetings From the Federal Judges Association

January 2, 2020

As we begin 2020, we welcome newly elected Directors to the Board who will join the Officers and Executive Committee in leading the federal judiciary’s efforts to protect and preserve the independence, integrity and impartiality of our judges. We also extend our deepest gratitude to the outgoing Directors for their stalwart services to you, our members.
 
What are those services that the volunteers of the Federal Judges Association have given? Here is a sampling of the accomplishments the FJA has secured for its members and which continue as the focus of our efforts:

1. Pay and Benefits. FY 2020 funding of the Judicial Branch has been somewhat increased but is less than requested. The cost of living increase was set for the judiciary at 2.6 percent across-the-board adjustment (0.5% less than federal civilian workers) effective the first pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2020. It is important to note that within the less than fully funded overall operating budget, federal judges now continue to receive a COLA, which prior to the FJA’s successful litigation efforts was denied us on an annual basis. In addition, FJA support of pay litigation filed by individual judges succeeded in rulings that achieved the “uncoupling” of COLAs from Congressional salaries, a distinct issue that initially drove Article III judges to form this association in 1982. The particular threat to judicial independence by underfunding court operations or by cutting already inadequate funding or by diminishing the value of judicial salaries, motivates our actions. We support the Judicial Conference efforts to do the same and continue to work collaboratively with the Administrative Office. The FJA Pay and Benefits committee is led by Judges Dan Polster and Leo Gordon. Please contact them with your inquiries.

2. Judicial Integrity and Independence. Judge Patti Saris leads this FJA committee of the same name in our vigilant efforts to identify threats to judicial independence. For example, in the federal funding shut down last year, judges were alarmed by insufficient concern for judicial and court related employees who faced or were placed on furloughs. Courts must remain open and accessible to access and dispense justice. The efficient paring down of our budgets by our court administrators and the AO is laudable. But the lack of adequate financial resources for the courts to operate fully and without undue delay comes at great risk. The FJA seeks your input on how the Third Branch of government and its individual employees were affected. Please contact Patti Saris or your Circuit Directors with any anecdotal information so that we can comprehensively address possible systemic ways to protect the functioning of our courts and the livelihood of our court employees.

3. Communications. As we strive as an organization to update and improve our methods to communicate, we have turned our attention to revising the FJA website. Under the leadership of Judge Mal Mannion, the communications committee will revise our website format and capabilities to be more useful to FJA members who wish to communicate with our leadership and each other about common issues.

4. International Association of Judges Rule of Law Committee. The Federal Judges Association joined the International Association of Judges as a member association in 1993. Since then, our delegation to the annual IAJ conference has been steadfast as we are able to contribute to a vast array of matters of concern to judges around the world. We are the sole judicial association from the USA. I was proud to represent the FJA at the 2019 IAJ conference in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan in September. The value of interaction with judges from throughout the world, to learn of threats to their efforts to be independent and to offer our collaboration in areas of mutual interest was a privilege. One of our members, now retired Fourth Circuit Judge Allyson Duncan, now sits on the leadership council of the IAJ and heads its ANAO geographical group, which will hold a meeting in Washington DC this spring. You will hear more about this important work in my next message. The FJA committee is headed by Judge Dave Carter who is well versed in Rule of Law activities.

 
There is much more work being addressed in the areas of civics education, senior judges issues, membership and planning for our next Quadrennial in 2022. You will hear more as the new year unfolds. Please never hesitate to contact me or any officer directly or to contact FJA staff at fja@federaljudgesassoc.org.
 
On behalf of the officers, Executive Committee and Directors, I send to our FJA colleagues our commitment to preserve and protect your judicial independence, integrity and impartiality in 2020 and always. Happy New Year!!
 
Sincerely,
 
Cynthia M. Rufe,
President