Arizona Judicial Branch

Excellence In Education Award

Submit Your Nomination Today!

Why should I consider nominating a training/trainer?

By identifying and nominating outstanding instructors and/or training programs, you are providing critical support to judicial branch education in Arizona. High-performing trainers and programs in Arizona can :

  • Improve communication in the workplace and raise organization morale
  • Increase efficiency and job performance
  • Increase ethical decision-making during difficult situations

Who Sponsors this Award?

The Committe on Judicial Education and Training (COJET) annually recognizes the efforts of outstanding faculty and curriculum developers who represent the various divisions within the court system: Judicial Officers, Probation/Detention, Judicial Court Staff, Managers and Executives.

The awards are presented to recipients by the four COJET standing committees:
  • Judicial College of Arizona (JCA)
  • Court Leadership Institute of Arizona (CLIA)
  • Committee on Probation Education (COPE)
  • Judicial Staff Education Committee (JSEC)

Who is Eligible? 

Any judicial branch employee or committee member can nominate an individual or team demonstrating excellence in the development of curriculum and/or the delivery of training, during the course of a calendar year.  COJET Excellence in Education Awards are given to recognize activities in the preceding year.

Submit Your Nomination Today!

(Judge Andrew Gould, Scott Krishner, Jeff Schrade, Steve Weston (not pictured))

2015 COJET Excellence in Education Award Winners
(for calendar year 2014)


In an effort to recognize outstanding trainers and curriculum developers for Arizona's judicial employees, the Committee on Judicial Education and Training (COJET) sponsors the "COJET Excellence in Education program” to honor faculty and curriculum developers who have demonstrated dedication and commitment to excellence in promoting judicial staff continuing education in Arizona. 

Court Staff Training:

Congratulations to this year’s winners of the COJET Excellence in Education Award: Scott Kirshner from the Phoenix Municipal Court, and Steve Weston (retired), from the Clerk of Court in Maricopa County who were chosen by the Committee on Judicial Education and Training (COJET), and the Judicial Staff Education Committee (JSEC) for their exceptional delivery of training during calendar year 2014.

Awards were presented by Judge Andrew Gould, COJET Chair and Jeff Schrade, Director-Education Services at an awards luncheon held at the recent 2015 Training Coordinator Conference.  On behalf of the members of COJET, the JSEC and judicial employees statewide, we congratulate these individuals on their commitment to supporting continuing education within the Arizona Court System.

2012 COJET Excellence in Education Award Winners

  • Christopher Hamilton and Kris Knudtson, Team winners, Defensive Tactics, Juvenile Probation, Cochise County. 

    Christopher began working for Cochise County in 2006 as a probation officer after serving in the US Army.  In 2009, he began instructing defensive tactics for both the juvenile and adult probation departments.  His commitment to Cochise County extends beyond his department through his volunteer activities with the Ft. Huachuca Youth Council and Arizona Juvenile Detention Advisory Council.  Kris graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Police Science.  He worked in Mohave County as a Sheriff’s Deputy and for the Lake Havasu City Police Department.  During his career as an officer, Mr. Knudtson worked his way up the ranks, achieving Detective Sergeant.  His willingness to share his knowledge with others began during this stage of his career when he taught courses at the local community college’s law enforcement academy.  In 2003, he became one of the first defensive tactics trainers in the State of Arizona.  His extensive experience, skills and passion for safety have been passed on to many officers in Cochise County.  
  • Mark Koch, Detention, Juvenile Justice Services Division, Administrative Office of the Courts. 

    Mark began his career in Illinois as a counselor for young males with emotional and behavioral problems, mostly from criminal street gangs.  He spent time at residential and detention facilities providing direct supervision to youths, supervising staff, writing policies, and was eventually promoted into management.  After 20 years of working in the Chicago area, Mark and his family moved to Arizona where he took a job with the Administrative Office of the Courts.  Since 2000, Mark has been involved in developing curriculum for the Detention Officer Academy, facilitating specialty training for detention officers in subjects such as suicide prevention and the Prison Rape Elimination Act, and is a regular instructor at the Detention Officer Academy.  Mark continues to keep his finger on the pulse of detention policies nationwide and brings his expertise and knowledge to the trainings that he provides.   
  • David Johnson, Firearms, Pinal County. 

    David has been a probation officer with the Pinal County Probation Department since 1998.  In these 15 years, he has supervised specialty caseloads of mentally ill, sex offenders, drug offenders, and intensive probation clients.  David was in the first group of instructors trained to teach firearm safety to probation officers.  He stated that he has a firm belief in officer safety and knew immediately that becoming a firearms instructor was the right step for him to take.  David said throughout his life he has hunted, had an interest in law enforcement, and passionately believed that the safety of our officers was a top priority.  David has taken his passion for safety and combined it with his experience and skills to provide valuable training to officers from every county in Arizona.   
  • Joseph “Sepp” Sprietsma, Probation, Juvenile Probation, Cochise County. 

    Sepp has worked in almost every capacity possible within the Juvenile Probation Department of Cochise County from JIPS to Victims Rights Program Manager.  He has also worked in every city in the county from Willcox to Sierra Vista.  Above and beyond his duties within the probation department, Sepp also works at the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education, continues to work part-time as a GED instructor for Cochise Community College, and is also a curriculum designer for adult education.  Sepp brings a wealth of teaching experience to his position, as he was formerly a teacher at Prescott Community College and a social studies teacher at a charter school.  While this extensive job experience speaks volumes, it does not touch the charisma and enthusiasm that he brings to each of his classes.  Cochise County is lucky to have an instructor that knows how to put the magical touch into every class he teaches by going above and beyond all expectations.
Court Staff 
  • Heidi Lofgren, Flagstaff Municipal Court County Training Coordinator, took an innovative approach to teaching ethics to general and limited jurisdiction court employees in her county, by using the popular game show model, "Wheel of Fortune". Heidi developed thought-provoking curriculum applied to her County’s rules on harassment, the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees, and different approaches to making ethical decisions. She presented this information using various tools to stimulate learning, including the use of a combination of video, PowerPoint, handouts, activities and real-life scenarios/questions that posed ethical dilemmas, and discussion. The training was well organized, very interactive and fun. Heidi took great care in accommodating diverse learning styles (kinesthetic, auditory and visual). The game format created a safe environment in which to share one’s views and encouraged dialogue on confronting ethical decisions.
  • Gabe Goltz, Administrative Office of the Courts, Judicial College of Arizona, Manager with the Supreme Court, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), has been recognized by his peers for his excellence in teaching the following courses: "Ethics in Film", "The Arizona Court System", and "Get it Write!" Participants commented that he is passionate about training and effectively communicates his knowledge about the subject. Gabe creates an enjoyable and engaging learning experience for all attendees, posing thought-provoking questions and using a variety of innovative tools to provide a great learning experience that is not only of value but also one that is memorable. This combination of abilities is rarely found in trainers. Gabe has demonstrated the talent to hold the interest of all participants from both a "want to know" as well as "need to know" perspective. Among many positive comments participants stated in their evaluations, "This class was awesome-Thanks!", and "thought-provoking!"
  • Judge Douglas Rayes, Superior Court in Maricopa County 
  • Judge Karen Adam, Superior Court in Pima Counnty 
  • Judge Louraine Arkfeld was appointed to the Court Leadership Institute of Arizona as its first chair in 2006. It was with her leadership that curriculum development for these programs began. Before she retired from the committee in 2010, the Arizona Court Manager program had been implemented with newly developed Arizona specific content in addition to the ICM classes and curriculum for the Arizona Court Executive program was being developed and piloted. She served on curriculum review work groups and became certified to teach the ICM Case flow Management, Purposes and Responsibilities of Courts and Visioning and Strategic Planning classes in addition to serving as faculty for Arizona Court Manager – Specialty Courts and Foundational Concepts: An Independent Judiciary Issues for Arizona Courts, Judicial Selection classes. It should be noted that much of Judge Arkfeld's  contributions continued well after her retirement including all of her outstanding work in 2011. She is currently involved in developing curriculum for our upcoming Presiding Judges Leadership Academy and is one of our highest evaluated leadership instructors. 
  • Kent Batty was also one of the original appointees to CLIA and served initially as its Vice Chair and is currently CLIA’s chair. In addition, Kent was one of the original program developers contributing as part of the Arizona Leadership ad hoc committee before CLIA. Beginning in 2011 and through this past year, Kent has forwarded the goal of CLIA to design and develop ongoing training for both our line supervisors and for our presiding judges. Curriculum development and the implementation of the Arizona Court Supervisor program rounded out our tiered leadership model by providing over 70 hours of program content for line supervisors with a significant portion available to supervisors without having to leave the court – using various facilitated and independent distance learning options. Kent also ensured that CLIA and its work groups began development of our premier Presiding Judges Leadership Academy scheduled to be piloted in 2013. In addition to his contributions as CLIA chair and in curriculum development, Kent serves as certified ICM faculty for Caseflow Management, Purposes and Responsibilities of Courts and Leadership; and is also faculty for the ACM capstone sessions covering Inherent Powers and Court Management Functions – Performance Improvement. Kent is also one of our highest evaluated leadership instructors.
  • Don Jacobson is currently CLIA’s Vice Chair and served with Kent on the original ad hoc committee. Not only is he instrumental in meeting the goals previously described, Don teaches more ICM classes for Arizona than any other instructor. He is currently certified to teach ICM Court Performance Standards, Financial Management, Visioning and Strategic Planning and the High Performance Courts Concluding Seminar for the Certified Court Executive certificate. As some of the comments from his class last week indicate, Don is one of our most-valued instructors. “Don is a dynamic educator. Very impressive that one facilitator could handle 2 and ½ days …not an easy task but very well done. Great presentation of this program by Don. He challenges us to become better court people! Don Jacobson is the best!! Don’s passion for the court and the law is amazing and makes him an engaging presenter. Best class of the CCE program.” Don’s contributions to curriculum development also include development of content for the Presiding Judge’s Leadership Academy and Arizona specific content within the court manager programs.