Thoughts on the National Foundation for Judicial Excellence and its Ninth Annual Symposium

The National Foundation for Judicial Excellence just concluded its Ninth Annual Symposium, “From Jurisdiction to Jurisprudence:  Emerging Issues in State and Federal Constitutional Law.  Over 80 state court appellate judges from across the United States attended the event in Chicago.  Headline speakers included Rod Smolla, acclaimed First Amendment Scholar and noted appellate lawyer; Professor Richard Epstein of New York University School of Law and Professor Akhil Reed Amar of Yale University Law School, both known nationally as preeminent constitutional scholars.  The NFJE was created nine years ago for the purpose of providing and preserving an independent and well-educated judiciary.  The Board of the NFJE strives to provide an educational opportunity for State Appellate Court Judges that are on cutting edge legal issues from the point of view of Civil Defense Bar and Corporate America.

Recently, I was speaking to a group about the group, and I was asked, “Why are you willing to volunteer so much of your time to the NFJE?”  The answer to that question lies in the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, spoken during his Inaugural Address on March 4, 1905.  “Much has been given to us,” President Roosevelt said, “and much will rightfully be expected from us.  We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither.”

The Board and the Program Committee of the NFJE are made up of lawyers who give generously of their time, talent and treasure.  Each NFJE Symposium is a labor of love and our volunteers feel an obligation to improve our civil justice system.  Every citizen of the United States has a right to the peaceful resolution of their civil disputes.  As lawyers, we have the honor of advocating for our clients in matters brought before our state courts.  However, as officers of the court, we also have a duty to ensure that our courts are up to the tasks of making the right decisions, at the right time, in each and every case.  Our society is premised upon the rule of law and it is essential that our citizens have confidence in the ability of our courts to decide properly the matters brought before them.  The Constitution of the United States of America was established “. . . in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility… promote the General Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . .”  At the NFJE, we believe that a well-educated judiciary is the key to preserving the constitutional rule of law and our civil just system.

Executing the mission of the NFJE is no small endeavor.  Our successes flow from our strong Board, excellent Program Committee, and generous contributions from thousands of civil defense trial attorneys across the country.  Our volunteer lawyers shirk neither their duty to themselves nor to the civil justice system.  We believe that we are providing the judiciary with an educational opportunity that is vital to this grand democratic experiment and true to another one of President Theodore Roosevelt’s exhortations, “There is no good reason why we should fear the future, but there is every reason why we should face it seriously, neither hiding from ourselves the gravity of the problems before us nor fearing to approach these problems with the unbending, unflinching purpose to solve them aright.”

[Editor’s Note: Mills Gallivan served as the President of NFJE during this Symposium (July 2012 to 2013), and he will serve as Chairman of the Board in 2013-2014.]

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