THE JUDICIAL INSTITUTE AT TWO YEARS:
TRANSFORMING JUDICIAL EDUCATION
|In the past two years, jurists from not only New York but also Europe, Africa and Asia have traveled to White Plains, N.Y., to participate in programs and conferences at the New York State Judicial Institute. The institute, which opened May 5, 2003, is the nation's first training and research facility for judges built by and for a state court system. Under the leadership of Dean Robert G.M. Keating, the institute has transformed judicial education in New York.
New York State Judicial Institute
Located on the campus of Pace University Law School about 30 miles north of New York City, it has already hosted over 250 programs for judges and court personnel, a combined total of 20,000 participants. Faculty come from educational institutions, think-tanks and research centers as well as from local courts and the bar. The institute has hosted specialized court training, such as for Integrated Domestic Violence Courts and Mental Health Courts, while the core programming - new judges' school, annual judicial seminars and legal updates for court attorneys - has expanded with increased course offerings. In-depth courses are offered throughout the year on emerging legal, technological, societal and administrative trends, such as "Scientific Analysis of Children's Testimony," "Bioethics and the Law," and "Same-Sex Marriage and Civil Unions."
The institute also serves as a forum where judges, lawyers and scholars from the state, the nation and the international community can convene for events as varied as a North American symposium on environmental law, whose cosponsors included the United Nations Environment Programme, and a "Partners in Justice" colloquium, where the judiciary, law school clinical programs and the bar explored collateral consequences of criminal convictions and ways to improve indigent representation and access to the courts.
Spearheaded by Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman, the institute represents a collaborative effort of the judicial, legislative and executive branches. The vision of a permanent facility was realized through 1999 legislation authorizing the court system to enter into agreements with the State Dormitory Authority and Pace University for construction of the institute. The Dormitory Authority issued bonds to finance the $15 million project. Affiliation with Pace University provides the institute with valuable resources in terms of research and expertise.
Recognizing that judges and court employees cannot always get away from the courthouse, the institute sponsors monthly "Lunch and Learn" video-conference programs for judges, held live at a different courthouse each time and simulcast to as many as 30 others. An interactive Web site will soon allow judges to access live streaming video of programs from chambers or court. A video archive of programs and educational materials is also under development.
"We couldn't be more pleased with what the Judicial Institute, under Dean Keating's leadership, has achieved in just two years," Judge Lippman said. "Having a year-round facility has improved the quantity and quality of our core programming, expanded the range of offerings to judges and court employees year-round and provided a first-class forum where worldwide representatives can discuss topics of common interest. The institute puts New York in the forefront of judicial education, helping us better serve the public."
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