President's Welcome

A Welcome from Judge Kevin Burke

Mary CelesteThe courts in the United States and Canada are facing enormous challenges. Far too many courts face budget shortfalls that cripple their ability to provide timely and effective justice for their community. Many courts are operating in a political environment that, to put it charitably, profoundly misunderstands the role and importance of the courts in a democratic society. This may well be the most difficult time for the judiciary in several generations. I know one person cannot meet those challenges successfully alone, nor have universally accepted suggestions on how courts should respond, but I hope to make a significant contribution. I hope the members who elected me will not be disappointed in my efforts. I ask for your help.

Like a lot of organizations with similar missions, the American Judges Association has issues we must confront. The American Judges Association is an organization whose strength comes from a vibrant membership. Our ability to increase our membership is dependent on being perceived as dynamic and relevant to the membership. Our strong suit is our conferences. We had a great conference in San Diego, thanks to the tireless efforts of Judges Mary Celeste and Brian MacKenzie and others. We have the potential of the best Midyear Conference in our history in Nashville May 17-19, 2012, and we return to New Orleans September 30-October 5, 2012, for the AJA Annual Educational Conference. If you have not attended an AJA conference recently, this coming year is the time to do it. Not to belittle these efforts, but not every American Judges Association member will or can attend our conferences. I believe the pathway our organization must take therefore is twofold: good conferences and great reasons to be a member even if you can't come to them.

The motto of the American Judges Association is "the voice of the judiciary." It is legally our trademark, but if it is to be something more than a legally protected phrase, there must be content to our voice. Thanks to Judge Steve Leben, Court Review is one of the best judicial journals published. We have started a blog. You can find it at:

This blog idea may be a complete bust, but I think we should give it a try. I ask you to occasionally look at it, give us input and most importantly send a link to judges you know when there is something you find interesting. No hard sell about join AJA.....just a simple this is something you might want to follow.

I am above all committed to making this a successful year. I repeat, I need and want your help to achieve that. Please let me know what you can do to make this work for all of us. You can reach me at