Hon. Joel Ballard Johnson, a Texas District Court Senior Judge, has been honored by the National Judicial College as one of 60 Courageous Judges. Please see the press release below.
Founded in 1963 and headquartered in Reno, Nevada, since 1964, the NJC is the country’s oldest, largest, and most widely attended school for judges. The college unveiled its list of 60 Courageous Judges at its final 60th anniversary celebration of the year, on Dec. 7 in Las Vegas.
The list includes historical figures, such as Frank M. Johnson, the federal judge in the Rosa Parks back-of-the-bus trial in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956. But the overwhelming majority of the honorees are lesser-known state court and administrative law judges from around this country and, in a few cases, from foreign countries. There are four tribal judges. Ten of the honorees, including Johnson, are deceased.
Said NJC President Benes Z. Aldana: “We hope this list raises people’s awareness of and appreciation for the thousands of steadfast judges who keep the promise of equal justice under the law every day, including those days when it would be more popular or convenient for them to do something else.”
The list was drawn from nominations submitted by the college’s alumni, faculty, staff, and others associated with the NJC. An internal committee headed by President Aldana made the final selections, relying almost exclusively on the examples of courage described by the nominators.
Many of the judges were recognized for honoring their vow to follow the law and Constitution in the face of contrary public opinion, political pressure, and threats to personal safety.
Several of the honorees attended the award ceremony in Las Vegas, and three-spoke, including Montana District Court Judge Kathy Seeley.
In August of this year, Judge Seeley made headlines nationally by ruling in favor of 16 youth plaintiffs who argued that Montana’s fossil fuel policies violated the state’s own constitutionally guaranteed right to a healthy environment. The ruling was unpopular with the conservative majority in Montana, a state rich in oil and natural gas deposits.
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Created 60 years ago at the recommendation of a U.S. Supreme Court justice, The National Judicial College remains the only educational institution in the United States that teaches courtroom skills to judges of all types from all over the country, Indian Country and abroad. The categories of judges served by this nonprofit and nonpartisan institution, based in Reno, Nevada, since 1964, decide more than 95 percent of cases in the United States.