Popular mayor of Columbia, S.C., among the latest additions to the boards of the nation’s oldest and largest college for judges

RENO, Nev. (Aug. 11, 2020) — Columbia, South Carolina, Mayor Stephen Benjamin is among three new members of the Board of Trustees of The National Judicial College, the nation’s oldest and largest institution of judicial education.

Benjamin was first elected mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, in 2010. He won re-election with a 30-point margin in 2013 and ran unopposed in 2017. In 2018-2019, he served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and he was president of the African-American Mayors Association from 2015 to 2016.

Also joining the Board of Trustees are:

  • Clifford Edwards, founding attorney of Edwards Frickle & Culver of Billings, Montana and one of the nation’s most distinguished trial lawyers. Among his many honors, Edwards is a member and immediate past president of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, which limits membership to 500 lawyers throughout the United States.
  • Pamela A. Bresnahan, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP. A member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, she has been named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America and the 50 most influential women lawyers by the National Law Journal. She is a chair-elect of the Board of Trustee of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

The three new trustees were nominated by the board at the group’s meeting in July and then elected by the members of the College’s corporation, the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors on August 2.

Also at the Trustees’ July meeting, the following members were elected officers for the 2020-21 term:

  • Chair: Hon. Christopher T. Whitten, a general jurisdiction trial court judge of the Superior Court of Arizona in Phoenix
  • Chair-Elect: Alan R. Brayton, senior and founding partner, Brayton • Purcell LLP, Novato, California
  • Treasurer: Hon. Leslie A. Hayashi (Ret.), former district court judge for the First Circuit in Honolulu, Hawai`i
  • Secretary: Ann Thornton Field, a member of Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, LLP, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The new trustees replace Peter Neeson of Rawle & Henderson, L.L.P in Philadelphia whose term had expired; Walter L. Sutton, Jr., who stepped down to devote more time to his many other civic and professional responsibilities, including serving as chair of the Board of Trustees of Wiley College, a historically black college in Marshall, Texas; and Marianne D. Short, executive vice president, chief legal officer, and member of the Office of the Chief Executive at UnitedHealth Group. She resigned last December because of family, work and other community service commitments. 

Immediately prior to becoming a trustee, Cliff Edwards served as chair of the College’s Board of Visitors, a group that recently welcomed the following new members:  

Mary Alexander is widely recognized as one of San Francisco’s top personal injury attorneys, having obtained some of the largest and highest-profile verdicts and settlements in California over the course of her career. These include a $305 million settlement on behalf of 10 California counties against several paint companies involved in a nearly 20-year lawsuit over lead paint in California.

Mark Bruce’s business law practice assists Nevada, national and international businesses in the areas of business formation, licensing, operations, agreements, entitlements, and real estate development. Over the last decade, he has served as a trustee for The Children’s Cabinet and the Desert Research Institute Foundation. He has served two Nevada governors on the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Ahmed J. Davis is a principal in the Washington, D.C., office of Fish & Richardson P.C., national chair of the Fish & Richardson Diversity Initiative, and a member of the firm’s management committee. His practice focuses on complex patent litigation in a range of technical areas, including chemistry, biotechnology, medical devices and mechanical and electrical engineering.

Craig A. Thompson, a partner with Venable LLP in Baltimore, represents clients in the areas of commercial litigation, product liability, premises liability and personal injury. As a trial lawyer and legal counselor, he has significant experience handling civil cases before federal and state courts throughout the country.

The Board of Visitors is a group of nationally recognized individuals who advance the quality of education at the College by serving as goodwill ambassadors, enhancing awareness of the College, and assisting with fundraising efforts.

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Created more than a half-century ago at the recommendation of a U.S. Supreme Court justice, The National Judicial College remains the only educational institution in the country 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 and nonpartisan institution decide more than 95 percent of the cases in the United States. The College has been based in Reno, Nevada, since 1964 and offers hundreds of programs throughout the United States, abroad and online.

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