Judicial Academy

The nation’s only course for lawyers who aspire to become judges

The Judicial Academy helps lawyers who are interested in becoming judges learn about the profession and improve their chances of appointment or election to the bench.

As of fall 2023, 24 alumni of the first three Judicial Academy classes had already made it to the bench. See below for the full list.

“I absolutely loved the Judicial Academy, and I highly recommend that anyone aspiring to a judicial career  invest in this course,” said Presiding Judge Lorrie Sinclair Taylor of the 20th Judicial District Court in Loudoun County, Virginia. She became the first African-American judge in the history of Loudoun County.

Participants in the weeklong course learn from veteran judges about a judge’s responsibilities, including:

  • Interpreting the law
  • Assessing evidence
  • Controlling hearings and trials
  • Deciding impartially
  • Sentencing criminal defendants
  • Terminating parental rights

The instructors also include professionals in charge of judicial selection and experts on judicial election campaigns.

One of the goals for the Academy is to increase diversity in the judiciary, so applicants from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Judicial Academy alumni on the bench

  • Judge Olga Álvarez ’19, Superior Court of San Diego County, California
  • Chief Judge Natasha K. Anderson ’22, Nez Perce Tribal Court, Idaho  
  • Commissioner Latrice A.G. Byrdsong ’22, Los Angeles Superior Court, California
  • Judge José Scher Castillo ’19, Superior Court of San Diego County, California
  • Amyra Cobb-Hampton ’21, Solano County Superior Court, California
  • Judge Tsering D. Cornell ’21, Clark County Superior Court, Washington
  • Judge Travis Fliehman ’22, Darke County Court of Common Pleas, Ohio
  • Commissioner Christine J. Gonong ’21, Los Angeles Superior Court, California
  • Judge Jaime Hawk ’19, King County (Washington) Superior Court
  • Judge Robert Lara ’22, 3rd Judicial District Court of New Mexico, Division 2
  • Judge Andrew Luxen ’21, 2nd Judicial District Court, Denver, Colorado  
  • Judge Marie Avery Moses ’19, 2nd Judicial District Court, Denver, Colorado
  • Judge Danna W. Nicholas ’22, San Diego County Superior Court
  • Judge Patrice “Patti” W. Oppenheim ’19, 22nd Judicial District Court for St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana
  • Judge Josh Patrick ’21, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
  • Associate Judge Amy K. Peterman ’22, 17th Judicial Circuit Court, Illinois 
  • Associate Judge Jeffrey L. Phillips ’19, Nez Perce Tribe, Nez Perce County, Idaho  
  • Judge Rania Rampersad ’19, East Division District Court, King County, Washington
  • Judge Chris Sease ’21, District Court, Rowan County, North Carolina 
  • Special Justice Kiah D. Spinks ’23, 31st District Court of Virginia
  • Judge Sherry Thompson-Taylor ’21, Superior Court of San Diego County, California
  • Judge Catherine Taylor ’21, Los Alamos County Magistrate Court, New Mexico 
  • Judge Lorrie Sinclair Taylor ’19, General District Court, Loudoun County, Virginia
  • Judge Thanh H. Tran ’19, Clackamas County Circuit Court, Oregon

Judicial Academy Scholarships
Applicants to the NJC’s annual Judicial Academy may apply for a small number of scholarships.

You may express interest in being considered for a scholarship during the online registration process.

Scholarship recipients will be selected by the NJC scholarship committee.

The College encourages diverse participants (age, race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and national or ethnic origin). However, scholarships are not limited to minority applicants.

2023 Judicial Academy

– 20Reno, NV
Tuition: $1,460
Conference Fee: $419

Register now
Scales of Justice
Judge Olga Álvarez
NJC President Benes Aldana with Judicial Academy alumna Jaime Hawk at her investiture as a judge of the King County (WA) Superior Court
NJC President Benes Aldana with Judicial Academy alumna Jaime Hawk at her investiture as a judge of the King County (WA) Superior Court