American Judges Association



Brian MacKenzie

Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 51, Issue 2 (2015)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


I n my first column in Court Review, I wrote about how the American Judges Association (AJA) was taking a serious look at improving the Association. Since the annual meeting in Las Vegas, a number of committees have been thinking longterm about the organization’s structure. The goals are to strengthen the relationship between Canadian and American judges, to expand membership so that it reflects all of the judiciary, and to improve the already excellent conferences. At the midyear meeting held at Fort Myers, Florida, the Executive Committee and the Board of Governors reviewed proposed changes to the bylaws.

The most important proposal would change how judges are elected to the Board of Governors. The current system, devised in the 1950s, created 14 districts based upon the number of active judges in the district. By way of example, a state like New York has two representatives on the Board of Governors, while Alabama, Georgia, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico have shared representation. Besides this basic unfairness in state representation, a structure based on active judges is difficult to change when judges from a particular state are not as active as they once were. Another problem is that judges from Canada have no separate representation. Under our current structure, they are part of districts made up of multiple states and provinces. This creates the possibility that no Canadian judge will serve on the Board of Governors.