Legal Futures: Making the Connection

The Commission on Minorities in the Judiciary hosted its 2nd annual Legal Futures program.  This year’s theme, Legal Futures: Making the Connection, brought together forty-six local high school and college undergraduate students to meet with Arizona judges and judicial officers.

The program included high school students participating in the Arizona State University High School Pipeline Initiative, undergraduates with an interest in the law, and judicial officers from all state jurisdictions and the U.S. District Court.  

The Legal Futures program was designed to be interactive between students and judges by having them work together in groups.  The program this year was for individual groups to determine whether the 1st Amendment protects the right of a company to nationally advertise a non-FDA approved cure to a global flu pandemic emergency.    

The Commission created the program to give minority students a sense of inclusion by introducing them to those who have come before them and succeeded.   Last year, the topic was Legal Futures: Why Diversity and Inclusion Matter.

Frankie Jones, Esq., Commission Chair, opened the program and welcomed Arizona Vice Chief Justice Robert Brutinel.  “You are surrounded by many reasons to consider becoming a judge,” said Justice Brutinel, adding “there are many great reasons to choose a career in law and to consider becoming a judge.  I encourage you to talk to as many people as you can today, and to keep talking to people to see if this can be a rewarding career for you, too.  We need you and we believe in you, “said Justice Brutinel.

Justice Brutinel also spoke his personal experiences and the challenges he encountered on his path to the bench.  He spoke on how he became interested in law and offered his thoughts on diversity, saying that more diversity in the judicial branch will help restore confidence in the court system.  Justice Brutinel also shared that he was the first in his family to attend college, which presented its own unique challenges when navigating to law school.

After the program, the students had an opportunity to meet and learn about the other judges’ pathways to the bench.  They also toured the Supreme Court.

Participating Judges:

Judge Marianne T. Bayardi, Phoenix Municipal Court 
Judge Erica Cornejo, Pima County Consolidated Justice Court 
Commission Marvin L Davis, Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County 
Judge David Gass, Superior Court in Maricopa County
Justice Andrew W. Gould, Arizona Supreme Court
Judge Geri Hale, Tucson City Court
Judge Susanna Pineda, Superior Court in Maricopa County
Judge Antonio Riojas, Presiding Judge Tucson City Court
Judge Carol Scott Berry (Ret), Phoenix Municipal Court 
Judge Roxanne Song Ong (Ret.), Chief Presiding Judge, Phoenix Municipal Court 
Judge Joan L. Wagener, Superior Court in Pima County
Judge Maria Elena Cruz, Court of Appeals, Division 1
Judge Daniel Collins, U.S. District Bankruptcy Court

Participating High Schools:

Cesar Chavez High School
Trevor Browne High School
Carl Hayden High School
Maryvale High School

Participating Universities:

Arizona State University
University of Arizona
Northern Arizona University
Grand Canyon University

Commission on Minorities in the Judiciary Diversity Statement
Diversity represents a workforce and customer-based environment that includes age, gender, sexual orientation and identification, race, religion, culture, nationality, ethnicity, disability, appearance, personality, education and language.  Diversity includes ideas, approaches, disciplines, cultural values, and perspectives, which are integrated into the myriad duties and responsibilities at all levels of our court.  The Commission encourages a statewide climate of inclusion, respect, openness and awareness that accepts all persons without judgement, providing access to justice and demonstration our commitment to be balances, just and fair. The cultural richness and diversity of Arizona is a source of opportunity.

Photo below:  Carl Hayden High School participants

Photo below:  Cesar Chavez High School participants

Photos below: Trevor Brown High School participants

Photos below:  Grand Canyon University participants

Photos below:  Arizona State University participants