Eleventh District Chancery Judge Cynthia Brewer of Madison County and Sixteenth District Chancery Judge D. Neil Harris of Pascagoula recently served as facilitators during the two-week general jurisdiction training for new judges at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada.
Seven recently appointed and elected Mississippi judges attended the general jurisdiction course April 28 through May 9 on the campus of the University of Nevada. They are Second District Circuit Judge Christopher Schmidt of Pass Christian, Third District Circuit Judge Kelly Luther of Shady Grove, Fourth District Circuit Judge Carol White-Richard of Greenville, Eighteenth District Circuit Judge Dal Williamson of Laurel, Adams County Court Judge Walt Brown of Natchez, Bolivar County Court Judge Hunter Nowell of Cleveland, and Coahoma County Court Judge Kent Haney of Clarksdale.
Seventy-two judges from across the country participated in the two-week general jurisdiction course for recently elected or appointed judges.
Judge Brewer has acted as a facilitator six times, and taught a class last year about dealing with self-represented litigants. Judge Harris has acted as a facilitator four times, and has taught classes on ethics, court rules and court security twice via the Internet. Both expect to teach again this fall.
Facilitators lead small group discussions after judges have attended classes. The small group discussions, usually of less than a dozen judges, are intended to answer questions and reinforce the material covered during class lectures.
Judge Brewer said that each teaching and facilitating experience also provides her with a learning opportunity. “It re-energizes me. I learn something new every single time.”
Judge Harris said that teaching and facilitating group discussions helps him stay current and sharpen his skills. “It’s a real honor to get to do it. I enjoy the study and keeping up,” he said.
Judge Harris said that he communicates regularly with judges he met at the National Judicial College. “I have friends from the Virgin Islands to Alaska to the Marshall Islands, and we keep up with each other ad share ideas and problems across the Internet.”
Judge Harris also is pursuing a master’s degree in judicial studies through the National Judicial College. “At 64 years old, I’m going back to school,” he said. The program is taught in multiple sessions, two or three weeks at a time. He also has a master’s degree in church music, as well as a law degree.