NCREFC Press Release: DC Judge one of two Awardees by National Consortium for Racial and Ethnic Fairness in Courts

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 26, 2021

CONTACTS: Judge Susan F. Maven, President/Moderator susan.maven@njcourts.gov and Kimberley Taylor-Riley, Awards Committee Chair taylor-rileyk@stlouis-mo.gov

Williamsburg, VA (virtually via Zoom) – The National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts (“the National Consortium”) today presented two distinguished jurists with the Equity Achievement Award: Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson and District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Hiram Puig-Lugo. Both awardees were honored for their distinguished leadership in eliminating structural barriers to the courts and advancing procedural fairness for historically marginalized constituencies including people of color.

The National Consortium established the Equity Achievement Award to recognize and encourage individuals who work consistently to advance equal access and procedural fairness within court systems across this country. The 2021 awards were presented virtually during the live closing program of the National Consortium’s 32nd national conference and annual meeting by National Consortium President and Moderator Judge Susan F. Maven. Maven stated, “the Equity Achievement Award recognizes a distinguished lifetime of contributions or an exceptional contribution to the goal of advancing and preserving a court system that is free of racial and ethnic bias and fair to all court clients.”

The annual award was initiated in 2018 with the inaugural award being presented to Dr. Yolande P. Marlow, founding Board member and Coordinator and New Jersey Judiciary Minority Concerns Program Director. The 2019 award was presented posthumously to San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

Honoree: Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson

The award to Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson recognizes leadership in systemic transformation spanning a legal and judicial career of nearly 25 years. Nominated by a group of Oregon jurists and state court administrators, Justice Nelson’s nomination received support from, among others, Oregon Chief Justice Martha L. Walters, Governor Kate Brown, and Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum. Attorney General Rosenblum was in attendance for the virtual award presentation along with Justice Nelson’s husband and other guests. The nominators, in part, wrote: Justice Nelson has changed what it means to be a judge in Oregon by making it clear that judges and the Court have a critical role in ensuring people of all races, ethnicities, religions, and other backgrounds have confidence that fairness … can be found in Oregon courts. Singlehandedly, for over a decade as a judge, now Justice Nelson has led efforts to educate judges, court staff, lawyers, and recently jurors and the public about historical racial disparities in Oregon law, … the impact of implicit bias and how to overcome those biases.

Honoree: District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Hiram Puig-Lugo

The award to District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Hiram Puig-Lugo recognizes his national and international work of fostering collaboration and advancing equal access to and fair treatment in the courts over the course of twenty-two years as a judge. Judge Puig-Lugo was nominated by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) in a letter cosigned by NCJFCJ President of the Board of Directors Judge Dan Michael and NCJFCJ Chief Executive Officer Joey Orduña Hastings. Members of the NCJFCJ DEI Collaborative, along with Judge Puig-Lugo’s family, were present for the virtual award. The nominators, in part, wrote: Judge Puig-Lugo [is] a leader in NCJFCJ and other organizations dedicated to ensuring equal access to the courts nationally and in the District of Columbia. As Presiding Judge of the Family Court of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and Chair of the Neglect Subcommittee, he convened a working group to address the needs of LGBT[Q] youth in the child welfare and juvenile delinquency systems. As Chair of NCJFCJ’s Diversity Committee, Judge PuigLugo led the effort to implement the NCJFCJ vision to ensure staff, leadership, and membership reflect the diversity of the children, families, and survivors of violence NCJFCJ serves… He convened the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Summit, a national collaboration of fifteen judicial, legal, academic, and other court-involved organizations working to implement national policy and processes for a more diverse, inclusive, and culturally competent judicial and legal system.

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