The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School has partnered with Virtue Foundation to assist in the implementation of the Foundation’s pioneering Women Judges in the Pipeline Initiative.
Investing in women and girls has an incredible “multiplier effect” for community economic and social advancement. Virtue Foundation and its partners recognize the important role that judges, especially women judges, can play in strengthening the rule of law both through their contributions to an impartial judiciary as well as through the implementation and enforcement of laws, particularly those that provide access to justice for women and girls. The Women Judges in the Pipeline Initiative supports women judges who are strong leaders and agents of change toward improving access to justice, rule of law, and sustainable development. In particular, this Initiative seeks to identify obstacles and offer practical solutions to increasing women’s participation in judiciaries throughout the world, including in Ghana.
The Jurist in Residence Program
A five-week training program for five selected women judges, the Jurists in Residence program was designed to provide female judges from the developing world with access to the resources of a world-class research facility and best-practice training with U.S. colleagues. Participants gain valuable knowledge and skills to assist in the performance of their duties on the bench, and support in promoting the appointment and advancement of women in the judiciary. The Judicial Service of Ghana was selected as the pilot partner for the program and the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School hosted five Ghanaian judges for the month of April: Circuit Court Judges Patience Mills-Tetteh and Barbara Naadja Tetteh-Charway; and District Court Magistrates Abena Oppong Agyin-Doku, Audrey Edem Ama Kocuvie-Tay and Patricia Ekua Quansah. A key goal of the program is to adequately prepare the participants to plan and implement an innovative model Family Justice Center in Ghana.
During their visit, the five Ghanaian judges participated in trainings on such topics as legal research and writing, case management, the right to a fair trial, judicial ethics, gender and the judiciary, and issues of vulnerable groups in the courts. In addition to Fordham Law faculty, several U.S. judges took part in leading these trainings, including Judge Ann Claire Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Judge Judy Harris Kluger, Chief of Policy and Planning for the NY state courts; Judge Joanna Seybert of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and Judge George Yanthis of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
In addition, the Ghanaian judges studied the theory and practical implementation of problem-solving courts and spent over a week shadowing U.S. judge counterparts who are working in these courts, including Judge Matthew D’Emic of the Kings County Supreme Court Mental Health Court; Judge Tandra Dawson of the Manhattan Integrated Domestic Violence Court; Judge JoAnn Ferdinand of the Kings County Supreme Court Drug Court; and Judge Marcia Hirsch, Presiding Justice of the Queens County Veterans Court. In addition, the judges attended several topical conferences during their stay, including the Virtue Foundation’s 2011 Senior Roundtable on Women and the Judiciary (March 31 and April 1, Washington, D.C.) and the N.Y.U. Law Symposium Celebrating the NYS Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts (April 5, New York, NY).
The Ghanaian judges completed two assignments by the end of the program: An Individual Essay on a chosen topic of interest, such as problems facing women judges, problems encountered within the judiciary, access to justice for women, and issues of problem-solving courts; and a Collective Project Implementation Plan, on which the participants worked collaboratively to outline and complete a project plan for the proposed model Family Justice Center in Ghana.