In May, 17 classmates and I became proud members of Duke University School of Law’s Master of Laws in Judicial Studies Class of 2016. On that beautiful North Carolina day, it did not seem possible that it had been nearly three years since we began our journey together. When we first met, it was easy to assume that our unifying factor would be the fact that we were all judges.
Three years later, however, I believe it is more appropriate to say that our unifying characteristic was our shared desire to become better judges.
Duke University School of Law has graciously given us the opportunity to study with world-renowned scholars and members of the judiciary, challenge ourselves, assess our judicial philosophies, and in turn, be better prepared to serve our communities. On behalf of my entire class, please let me convey how grateful we are to have been given this incredible opportunity to improve ourselves both as judges and human beings.
During our first year, Professors Mitu Gulati and Jack Knight introduced the idea of a traditional once-a-year academic journal to our class. But when Duke Law’s Center for Judicial Studies acquired Judicature, we jumped at the chance to help run it. It has been an honor to serve as a member of the editorial board, and I am excited to serve as editor-in-chief of this issue. This edition includes a timely and thought-provoking piece on sentencing by my friend Judge Timothy J. Corrigan of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Another piece, by Judge D. Brock Hornby, is an imagined conversation that tackles the thorny question of whether judges should discuss their work in the media in order to help educate the public. And in the second of a series of pieces on an exchange between the United States and United Kingdom sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch discusses access to justice in both countries. I hope that you find that these and the many other excellent articles inside this edition are not only educational and instructive but that they also present a very human side of being a judge.
During our commencement ceremony, I was moved by the sight of my fellow Duke University School of Law graduates earning their Juris Doctor degrees, most of them glowing from the eagerness of youth, proudly accepting their diplomas and ready to embark upon a life in the law. I looked back at my own nearly nine-year career on the bench, delighted and grateful that each day I have loved my job a bit more than the day before. My hope is that each of these new graduates will find the same joy and fulfillment as I have as they pursue their legal careers.
Very truly yours,
Virginia Baker Norton
Florida Circuit Court, 4th Judicial Circuit