A newspaper on a wooden desk - Press Release
Influential Alabama attorney elected chair of National Judicial College

Retired attorney Rob Hunter, whose long legal career in Alabama included providing legal representation to five governors, has been elected chair of the 21-person Board of Trustees of The National Judicial College, the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely attended school for judges.

The College also welcomed two new board members, both of them judges.

First elected to the NJC Board of Trustees in 2016, Mr. Hunter is the former senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for Birmingham, Alabama-based Altec Inc. The company is a leading provider of products and services for the electric utility, telecommunications, tree care, lights and signs, and contractor markets. He retired in 2022 after 21 years with the company.

Before joining Altec in 1999, he practiced law for 23 years with the Birmingham firm of Lange, Simpson, Robinson & Somerville. There he used his undergraduate study in mechanical engineering and his law degree to defend manufacturers in product liability litigation around the country.

During those years, he also provided legal representation to three Republican governors of Alabama: Guy Hunt, Fob James, and Bob Riley; and two Democratic governors: Jim Folsom and Don Siegelman.

Other highlights of his career in private practice:

He was instrumental in the drafting and passage of Alabama’s 1987 Tort Reform legislation and 1992 Workers’ Compensation Reform.

He successfully defended Alabama’s franchise tax against constitutional challenge before the Alabama and United States supreme courts in 1989 and 1990 and successfully defended the state’s property tax against constitutional challenge in federal courts, including the Supreme Court, between 2004 and 2007.

He also served as lead counsel for the State of Alabama in its long-running higher education desegregation case, Knight v. State of Alabama. After joining Altec, he resumed that position at the request of the governor on a pro bono basis.

He was also nominated by President George H.W. Bush to be a federal judge, but the nomination died upon the election of President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Hunter’s many leadership positions in the legal profession include having served as president of the International Association of Defense Counsel (2008-09), president of Lawyers for Civil Justice (2014-15), chair of the Board of Directors of the Product Liability Advisory Council; and dean of the Corporate Counsel College. He has served on the boards of all those organizations and several others, including the Duke Law Center for Judicial Studies (2014-16).

He now lives in western North Carolina.

Newly elected trustees

Hon.  Danette Mincey

Since 2021 Judge Mincey has served as a Veterans Law Judge for the Board of Veterans Appeals, which is an administrative tribunal within the Department of Veterans Affairs located in Washington, D.C. A military veteran herself, she served in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the United States Navy, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander before resigning her commission. Before receiving her current appointment to the Board of Veterans Appeals, she served as a federal Administrative Law Judge for the Social Security Administration, and was a member of the Senior Executive Service at NASA.

Hon. Samuel A. Thumma

Judge Thumma has served on the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, in Phoenix since 2012 and was chief judge from 2017‒19. Before that, he served for five years as a trial judge on the Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County. He has worked closely with The National Judicial College for many years, through the Appellate Judges Education Institute and the American Bar Association Judicial Division, as well as teaching for the College in various areas, including ethics, writing, evidence and judicial decision making. He has taught at many law schools and presented at nearly 500 law-related seminations sponsored by organizations in the United States and abroad. Among his many roles within the ABA, he currently serves as a presidential appointee to the Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Services and the Advisory Council of the Task Force on Law and Artificial Intelligence.

Other newly elected officers of the Board of Trustees

Chair-Elect: Hon Mary-Margaret Anderson (Ret.)

Judge Anderson was an administrative law judge with the California Office of Administrative Hearings from 1997 until 2017. In 2009, she was appointed to the Medical Quality Hearing Panel, which hears physician discipline matters. She also presided over the full range of cases heard by OAH, including those brought by state, county, and local agencies, such as school districts. She has been a trustee of the NJC since 2016.

Treasurer: Darcee S. Siegel

The former city attorney of North Miami Beach, Florida, and an in-house municipal attorney since 1988, Darcee Siegel is now a Florida Supreme Court-certified civil mediator. She has served in many leadership positions in the American Bar Association, including the Board of Governors, chair of the Government and Public Sector Division, and secretary/diversity officer of the Tort Trial Insurance Practice Section. She continues to serve as a member of the House of Delegates. She is a current member and former chair of Florida International University’s Vice-Provost Council. She has been a trustee of the NJC since 2019.

Secretary: Hon. Leslie A. Hayashi (Ret.)

Leslie Hayashi served for over 25 years as a district court judge for the First Circuit in Honolulu, Hawai`i and is a longtime member of the NJC faculty. While on the bench, she was involved in several major projects to improve judicial administration. She spearheaded the creation of a statewide civil traffic system, led the implementation phase of the new technology system for the courts, developed a restorative justice pilot project, and implemented a driver’s license renewal program. She has been a trustee of the NJC since 2017.

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Founded in 1963 at the recommendation of a committee headed by Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, 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, nonpartisan institution, based at the University of Nevada, Reno, decide more than 95 percent of cases in the United States.

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