The overwhelming majority of NJC courses are taught by volunteers, active and retired judges who compete for the honor of teaching their colleagues. The 10-member Faculty Council provides input to the College’s administration and Board of Trustees. administration and Board of Trustees.
Chair Hon. Kristi L. Harrington (Ret.)
Moncks Corner, SC
On June 30, 2018, Judge Harrington retired from the bench after serving two terms. She is a certified mediator and a certified arbitrator, owning her own Alternative Dispute Resolution practice. She is honored to be on the American Arbitration Association Judicial Panel. She is the Judicial and Legal Content Specialist at Darkness To Light, a non-profit organization that educates adults on how to identify and prevent child sexual abuse.
During her tenure on the bench, she tried to verdict over 250 jury trials and completed numerous non-jury criminal and civil matters. She was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on Violence Against Women as the sole circuit judge, working to reduce the number of assaults and deaths of women in the state. She also served on the Common Pleas Docket Reform Committee and was part of the McArthur Foundation grant to reduce incarceration rates.
Judge Harrington has also taught locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. She has presented statewide on such topics as child sexual assault prevention and prosecution. Judge Harrington is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Charleston School of Law where she teaches a variety of classes, such as Advanced Evidence, Criminal Procedure, Trial Advocacy, and Alternatives to Incarceration. At Strayer University, she teaches a Business Law class to MBA students.
In 2012, Judge Harrington was honored to be selected as faculty for the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. She currently teaches Select Issues in Evidence and has designed a class specifically to train new judges as they transition to the bench. She has presented on topics such as child witnesses and special victim consideration. She is currently serving on the Faculty Council of the NJC. After working towards her Master’s Degree in Judicial Studies, she received her Certificate in Judicial Development in General Jurisdiction Trial Skills.
Chair Elect, Hon. Ilona M. Holmes (Ret.)
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Judge Ilona Holmes was a circuit judge assigned to the criminal division, in the Broward Circuit Court for 24 years before retiring on December 31, 2018. She was appointed first as a county court judge in 1995 and since 1998 has been a circuit judge serving in the criminal division of the Broward Circuit Court from 1998 to 2003. She served in the circuit civil division of the court from 2003-2005. Judge Holmes returned to the criminal division in 2005. She served as the administrative judge for the criminal division from 2008-2010. Previously, she served as a county court judge, an assistant United States attorney and an assistant state attorney in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Judge Holmes attended Stetson University and graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Judge Holmes also attended Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University and worked toward a doctorate in public administration. She has taught courses at the University of Fort Lauderdale, Nova Southeastern University, St. Thomas School of Law, Florida’s New Judges College, Florida International University and the University of Mississippi through the National Center for Justice and the Rule of Law. She continues to serve on numerous boards and committees in the Florida court education system. On January 4, 2019 she was appointed to her new position as the President of the University of Fort Lauderdale, a small private university in Lauderhill, Florida. Judge Holmes was inducted into the Broward County Women’s Hall of Fame in March 2010. Judge Holmes was elected to the National Judicial College’s Faculty Council in 2018 as a member at large. She is an alumna of The National Judicial College and joined the faculty in 2008.
Secretary, Hon. Thomas A. Zonay
Judge Thomas A. Zonay is a judge of the Vermont Superior Court. He was appointed to the bench by Governor James Douglas in 2007. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he was an attorney in private practice and before that he was a police officer in Woodstock, VT. Judge Zonay received a bachelor’s degree in food industry from Delaware Valley College and a Juris Doctor from Vermont Law School. He is currently a member, and past president of, the Vermont Trial Judge’s Association. He is the current chair of the Vermont Judicial Education Committee, current chair of the Vermont Criminal Rules Committee, the current Chair of the Vermont Sentencing Commission, and a member of the Vermont Judicial Conduct Board. He is the past-chair of the Vermont Public Access to Court Records Committee, and served as a member of the Vermont Judiciary Advisory Council (chair of budget committee). He has served on the Vermont Bar Association Board of Managers (President, 2005); was a director of the Vermont Bar Foundation; and is past president of the New England Bar Association. At the time of his appointment to the bench, Judge Zonay was chairman of the Vermont Human Rights Commission and had previously served on other judicial and community boards and committees. He is also a U.S.C.G. licensed Master Captain. Judge Zonay is an alumnus of the National Judicial College, joined its faculty in 2012, and is currently serving his first term on the NJC Faculty Council representing General Jurisdiction.
Hon. Efrain Alvarado
Justice Efrain Alvarado has been an acting Supreme Court Justice in Bronx County since 1994. Previously, he served as a criminal court judge in Bronx County from 1989 to 1993. Justice Alvarado started his professional career as an assistant district attorney in Bronx County, New York City. While at the district attorney’s office, he was a trial attorney in the Major Offense Bureau and was chief of the Narcotics Bureau. At the time he was appointed judge, he held the top administrative post in the Bronx district attorney’s office. Justice Alvarado obtained his bachelor’s degree from New York University and his law degree from New York University School of Law. Justice Alvarado is involved in numerous organizations and programs including the Bronx Supreme Court Mentor Program and the Courthouse Visitation Program and has been a presenter for the Bronx Bar Association and for his state’s Judicial Institute. From 2009 to January 2013, Justice Alvarado was the Administrative Judge for criminal matters in the county of the Bronx. Justice Alvarado is an alumnus of The National Judicial College and joined the faculty in 1999.
Hon. Neil Edward Axel
Since 1997, Judge Neil Edward Axel has served as Associate Judge of the District Court of Maryland, where his jurisdiction includes criminal misdemeanors, traffic and alcohol-related offenses, domestic violence, and civil actions where the amount in controversy was than $30,000. In addition to his regular judicial duties, Judge Axel presided over the Howard County Drug Treatment Court and DUI Court programs and served as Co-Chair of Maryland’s Judicial Conference Committee on Problem Solving Courts. Throughout his judicial career, Judge Axel has been actively involved in judicial education, and for 15 years served on the Board of Directors of Maryland’s Judicial College, overseeing and developing judicial education for Maryland’s trial and appellate judges. He served for 14 years on the Commission on Judicial Disabilities’ Judicial Inquiry Board screening complaints regarding judicial conduct, and as a member of Maryland’s Special Committee to Review the ABA Revised Code of Judicial Conduct from 2007 to 2009. Currently, Judge Axel serves the District Court of Maryland as a Senior Judge. In 2018, he was selected to serve as the ABA/NHTSA National Judicial Fellow for traffic safety issues. Judge Axel graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration before attending law school at American University’s Washington College of Law. In 2016, Judge Axel received the American Bar Association Judicial Division Franklin N. Flaschner Award for judicial excellence, character and leadership. In 2005 he was recognized by the Maryland State Bar Association with its Judge Anselm Sodaro Judicial Civility Award. He is a member of the American Bar Association and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Judge Axel joined the faculty of The National Judicial College in 2013.
Hon. Thomas E. Cheffins
Judge Thomas E. Cheffins was appointed a federal administrative law judge with the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in 2010. Prior to this appointment, Judge Cheffins was the chief administrative law judge for the Department of Public Welfare Bureau of Hearings and Appeals in Harrisburg, PA, a hearing officer for the Cumberland County Domestic Relations Office, and court administrator for the Cumberland Court of Common Pleas. Judge Cheffins received a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University, master’s degree from Shippensburg University, and Juris Doctor from Widener University School of Law where he graduated cum laude. He has taught for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary, and several other state associations, and has authored numerous publications. Judge Cheffins was awarded The National Judicial College’s Professional Certificate in Judicial Development in both Dispute Resolution Skills and Administrative Law Adjudication Skills. He has also received the National Association of Hearing Officials Administrative Law Judge Certification. Judge Cheffins was elected to The National Judicial College Faculty Council in 2007 representing Administrative Law Jurisdiction serving for 6 years and is a past chair. He was re-elected to the Faculty Council in 2020. Judge Cheffins is an alumnus of The National Judicial College, has served as faculty since 2001, and is considered one of its distinguished faculty.
Hon. Jess B. Clanton, Jr. (Ret.)
Judge Jess B. Clanton, Jr. is an active-retired judge for the State of Oklahoma, 12th Judicial District. He holds an undergraduate degree in political science from Oklahoma State University, (1964), and a juris doctor degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law, (1971). He served as a Captain in the USAF in Vietnam, (1968-1969). Judge Clanton served as a municipal judge in Claremore, Oklahoma (1972-1975). In 1975, he was appointed as a full-time special judge of the District Court. In 1978, he became an elected general jurisdiction judge, and served in that capacity until becoming active-retired. He first attended the National College of The State Judiciary (now the NJC) in 1976, and has served as a group facilitator many times. He is an alumnus of the National Judicial College, and became a member of the Faculty in 2004. He has served in six states as faculty for NJC specialty courses, as well as for the General Jurisdiction course in Reno.
Hon. Jennifer Gee (Ret.)
San Francisco, CA
Judge Jennifer Gee served as the district chief judge with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Administrative Law Judges in San Francisco, CA. from 2007 to 2019. In this position, she presided over formal hearings under 84 diverse, labor-related statutes and regulations, including the Longshore & Harbor Workers Compensation Act, the whistleblower protection provisions such as the Clean Air Act, Energy Reorganization Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, and Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as well as statutes relating to alien certification, child labor laws, civil rights, and minimum wage disputes. She has been a judge since 1982 and has served with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board hearing personnel-related cases involving federal employees, the California State Bar Court hearing attorney discipline cases, the California Department of Insurance hearing insurance regulation cases, and the Office of Hearings and Appeals for the Social Security Administration hearing Social Security disability benefits cases. Before becoming a judge, she practiced law with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for eight years as a trial attorney, specializing in employment discrimination. Judge Gee received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley and Juris Doctor from Boalt Hall, University of California Berkeley School of Law. She is a past president of California/Nevada Women Judges Association and previously served on the board of directors of the National Association of Women Judges. She has taught numerous continuing legal education courses in ethics, employment discrimination, and MSPB law. Judge Gee has served as faculty for The National Judicial College since 1994. She is currently serving her second term on the Faculty Council representing Administrative Law jurisdiction. She was awarded the NJC Robert Payant award for Teaching Excellence in 2018.
Hon. Vincent L. Knight
The Hon. Vincent Knight is currently serving his second term as District Court Judge for the Comanche Nation. Judge Knight has served as judge for many tribes including the Mescalero Apache Tribe, Jicarilla Apache Tribe and the Hualapai Nation to name a few. He also had the honor to serve as the first Tribal Law and Order Act judge for the Gila River Indian Community hearing felony cases in Indian Country. He is a former tribal prosecutor and defense counsel and has had the opportunity to sit on a variety of regional and national committees addressing issues impacting Indian Country. Judge Knight has taught at the National Judicial College since 2006 in a variety of areas for the Tribal Center. He is honored to serve for a second term representing the tribal courts on the NJC Faculty Council. Judge Knight is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and the University of New Mexico School of Law. He lives at home in Albuquerque, NM with his family and is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and of Ponca decent.
Hon. Phyllis Williams Kotey (Ret.)
Phillys Williams Kotey, senior judge, is a clinical professor of law and director of externships and pro bono programs at Florida International University College of Law. As director of the legal externship program, she has assisted students in judicial, civil and criminal placements at the local, state and national levels. She has facilitated student initiated pro bono service in Columbia, South America and around the country including New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In 2012, she was selected as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar for the 2012 – 2013 academic year in Accra Ghana. Prior to 2012, she served as Interim Director of the Office of Career Placement and Planning. As director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic, she developed the delinquency, educational advocacy and dependency clinics. She has taught Criminal Procedure, Children and the Law, the American Caribbean Law Initiative Seminar and Community Law Teaching (Street Law in the Miami-Dade Juvenile Detention Center). She also teaches bar preparation courses in the areas of Florida Constitutional Law and Florida Criminal Procedure.
“Prior to joining FIU College of Law, Judge Kotey earned a distinguished record of service to on the bench and to the bar. She is a member of numerous bar associations and has served as president of the T J Reddick Bar Association in Broward County and the Josiah T. Walls Bar Association in Alachua County. She is the coauthor of “Selected Issues” in the Florida Prosecutor’s Manual (1984). She is author of “Public Financing for Non-Partisan Judicial Campaigns: Protecting Judicial Independence While Ensuring Judicial Impartiality,” 38 Akron Law Review 597 (2005) and “The Real Costs of Judicial Misconduct: Florida Taking a Step Ahead in the Regulation of Judicial Speech and Conduct to Ensure Independence, Integrity and Impartiality,” 31 Nova Law Review 645 (2007). She wrote a chapter entitled “Judging Under Disaster: The Effect of Hurricane Katrina on the Criminal Justice System” for the book Hurricane Katrina: America’s Unnatural Disaster for the University of Nebraska Press (2009). She also authored the 2009 and 2011 updates on “Adjudicatory Hearings in Delinquency Cases” in Florida Juvenile Law and Practice. In Alachua County, she served as chair and vice chair of the Children Services Council was on the Board of Directors of PACE Center for Girls, Pleasant Place Home for Homeless Teen Mothers and ACORN Clinic. In Broward County, she was a volunteer with STARS Academy (a foster care mentoring program) and serves on the Board of Directors of HANDY. She is vice president of the Broward County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She holds a B.A., M.A., and J.D. from the University of Florida. She is an alumna of The National Judicial College, joined the College’s faculty in 2001, and is currently serving her first term on the NJC Faculty Council representing Special Courts.
Hon. Robert E. McBeth (Ret.)
Judge Robert E. McBeth served as a judge for the King County district court in Seattle, Washington for 24 years, retiring in 2005. Previously he practiced law for 10 years, specializing in family law, land use, and criminal misdemeanor defense. Judge McBeth received his bachelor’s degree from Washington State University and Juris Doctor from the University of Washington. He has been teaching the Fourth Amendment, criminal practice, and judicial ethics at Washington Judicial conferences for 25 years. He is past president of the Washington State District and Municipal Court Judges Association and named 1999 Judge of the Year by the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association. He is author of the “Washington Search and Seizure Deskbook” originally prepared in 1990 and updated each year. Judge McBeth is an alumnus of The National Judicial College, previously served as a member of the College’s faculty council, and joined the faculty of The National Judicial College in 2000. He previously served as a Judicial Fellow of The National Judicial College, presenting “Commercial Driver’s License: Laws and Enforcement” to all 50 states.