History of the National Judicial Education Program

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In 1980, Legal Momentum (then called NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund) established the National Judicial Education Program to Promote Equality for Women and Men in the Courts, co-sponsored by the then newly-formed National Association of Women Judges. The idea for what became NJEP was first broached at the establishment of Legal Momentum itself in 1970. However making the idea a reality took a decade because of skepticism about the project and its viability. Knowledgeable judges, lawyers and journalists warned that the judiciary would never accept gender bias as a legitimate topic for judicial education. Few believed that the judiciary at large would engage in the self-scrutiny necessary to eliminate such bias.

Yet, over the years NJEP has taken the topic from virtual obscurity to broad-based recognition. In 1986 the findings of the first few Task Forces were the featured educational program at the annual meeting of the Conference of Chief Justices. Gender bias then became grounds for reversal and sanction. Over the past forty years, NJEP has utilized a three-fold approach to promote access to the justice system and equality for women and men in the courts: education, publications, and supporting the task forces’ efforts to eradicate gender bias in the courts.

Learn more about our history with State and Federal Task Forces

"Few believed that the judiciary at large would engage in the self-scrutiny necessary to eliminate such bias. Yet over the years, NJEP has taken the topic from virtual obscurity to broad-based recognition."

Some of our significant achievements include:
1981

Presented Judicial Discretion: Does Sex Make a Difference? at the California Center for Judicial Education and Research, the first course of its kind ever presented for the judiciary.

1986

NJEP and National Association for Women Judges publish a “how-to” manual detailing procedures for establishing and running state supreme court task forces on gender bias in the courts.

1998

Developed a model judicial education curriculum, When Bias Compounds: Insuring Equal Justice for Women of Color in the Courts, piloted it in California and Georgia

2003

Published Gender, Justice and Law: From Asylum to Zygotes—Issues and Resources for Judicial, Legal and Continuing Legal Education, a 500-page guide to the myriad ways gender bias may be a factor in civil, criminal, family and juvenile law.

2005

Created a three-volume, 1,000-page resource manual on sexual assault information, law and policy for the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention and response initiative.

2015

Granted $600,000 by the Office on Violence Against Women to develop a curriculum to train sexual assault and domestic violence victim service providers.

 

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