Collage of NJC people
Reno-based National Judicial College to honor more than 20 Nevada individuals and organizations on its 60th anniversary

By Ed Cohen, Director of Communications/Marketing

RENO, NV (October 16, 2023) – This Wednesday, October 18, the Reno-based National Judicial College will celebrate its 60th anniversary by honoring more than 20 Nevada leaders and organizations who helped establish the college in Reno and have helped it thrive ever since.  

The honorees, who will receive the college’s Making the World a More Just Place Award, include: University of Nevada, Reno President Brian Sandoval; Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Lidia Stiglich; the late Procter R. Hug, Jr., a former chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; former Nevada State Bar President Rew Goodenow; the late state Senator Bill Raggio, and three members of the NJC faculty who have taught at the college for more than 110 years combined. 

Note: The awards ceremony will take place at around 7 p.m. on October 18 at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, 3800 S. Virginia Street. Media are welcome to cover the event but must arrange for a pass in advance. Out of concern for the safety of judges, the NJC does not widely publicize the specific times and locations of its programs. Use the contact information below to make arrangements to attend.

See below for a complete list of the honorees with biographies.

Based in Reno but offering courses around the country, abroad and online, the NJC is the country’s oldest, largest and most widely attended school for judges. Each year the college educates judges from all 50 states. The categories of judges it serves – including state trial and appellate, administrative law, limited jurisdiction, military and tribal – decide more than 95 percent of cases in this country. 

In 2023, the NJC is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its founding with six special programs from coast to coast. The first four were in Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle and New York City. The final event will be in Las Vegas on December 7. The overarching theme of the celebrations is “JUSTICE FOR ALL … Our Pledge for 60 Years.” 

Prior to the Reno awards ceremony, the college will present an educational program for lawyers and judges, “Next Generation: Bench, Bar and Bots,” from 4 to 5:30 p.m. The program will feature a panel of four state/territory supreme court chief justices, from Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and Guam. The four will also receive the Making the World a More Just Place Award. 

After a cocktail reception and dinner, there will be an informal conversation between former UNR President Sandoval and Chief Justice Stiglich. The awards ceremony will follow that. 

Approximately 500 people are expected to attend this event, including newer judges from all over the United States who are here taking the NJC’s flagship General Jurisdiction course, and participants in the college’s unique Judicial Academy for attorneys who aspire to become judges. 

NJC President Benes Z. Aldana, former chief trial judge of the U.S. Coast Guard, said, “For over 60 years, The National Judicial College has carried out its central mission of improving the administration of justice by ensuring that judges have the knowledge, skills and ethical grounding necessary to make fair and just decisions that uphold the law and protect the rights of all individuals. It is our strong belief that without a commitment to ongoing education and professional development, the judiciary risks losing public trust and failing to fulfill its vital role in safeguarding our democracy.”


Hon. C. Shannon Bacon

Appointed to the New Mexico Supreme Court in 2019 and elected in 2020, Justice Bacon is now in her second year as chief justice. In addition to her responsibilities on the court, she leads the state judiciary’s efforts regarding access to justice, guardianship and conservatorship reform, eviction and foreclosure programs, and equity and justice reform. She recently signed an order requiring all new New Mexico trial judges to attend the NJC’s flagship General Jurisdiction course. Justice Bacon, who identifies as a lesbian, is the first openly LGBT member of the New Mexico Supreme Court. 

Hon. Janet Berry (Ret.)

 NJC alumna Janet Berry served as a Nevada judge from 1992 until her retirement in 2017. She joined the college’s faculty in 1994 and has taught in more than 25 classes, including General Jurisdiction, Sentencing Offenders, Basic Legal Affairs Reporting for Journalists and Media Issues for Judges in the Information Age. She is one of the few judges in Nevada to obtain the Master of Judicial Studies postgraduate degree from the NJC and University of Nevada, Reno. Judge Berry was a trustee of the college from 1996 to 2003 and served as chair of the board in 2001. She also hosted a weekly television show, The Language of Law. She now serves the legal community as a senior judge and private mediator. 

Mark F. Bruce

A member of the NJC’s Board of Visitors, attorney Mark Bruce helped secure financial support for the College’s racial justice initiatives in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd and has also raised support for the annual Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture and scholarships for the Judicial Academy for attorneys who aspire to become judges. He is the founding partner of the Bruce Law Group in Reno. In addition to his work with the NJC, his many other civic positions include serving as chair and Governing Board member of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, member of the Bi-State (Nevada and California) Consultation Group on Transportation, trustee of Educational Pathways International, fellow of the Desert Research Institute Foundation, and co-chair and panelist of the Philanthropy Leaders Summit.

Hon. Susan Christensen

Susan Larson Christensen was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2018 and elected chief justice by her fellow justices in 2020 and again in 2022. She is the court’s third female justice and second female chief justice. She chaired the Children’s Justice State Council and the Family First Task Force and served on the Child Support Guidelines Review Committee and the Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisory Committee, among other groups. As chief, she is administrative head of a judicial branch with a budget of $190 million, 357 judicial officers, and more than 1,700 employees spread out over 99 counties.

E.L. Cord Foundation

In 1929 Errett Lobban Cord founded the Cord Corporation as a holding company for more than 150 companies he controlled. The famous names included the Auburn Automobile Company, which built the Auburn and Cord automobiles; Duesenberg Inc.; New York Shipbuilding; the taxicab manufacturer Checker Motors; and American Airways (later American Airlines). Based in Reno, the E.L. Cord Foundation, has supported many nonprofits and worthy causes in the community, including well over $1 million provided to The National Judicial College through consistent grants since 1965. 

Joseph N. Crowley 

Joe Crowley, who passed away in 2017 at age 84, served as the 13th president of the University of Nevada, Reno for a record 23 years, 1978-2001. The many highlights of his administration included the founding of the College of Human and Community Sciences (known today as the Division of Health Sciences) and the Reynolds School of Journalism. Initiatives were also launched to put in place a National Public Radio station and a campus-based, community-owned public television station. He served as president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association from 1993-95. He once described the NJC, which is based at the university but separate from it, as a “jewel in the crown” of UNR. 

John Farahi

John Farahi is co-chair and CEO of Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc., which owns and operates the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno and the Monarch Casino Resort Spa in Black Hawk, Colorado. President Obama appointed him to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He has also served as chair of the northern Nevada chapter of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and he founded the Farahi Jewish Day School in Reno. He has served on the Nevada Commission on Tourism, the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, the V&T Railroad Development Committee, and as a trustee of the Washoe County Airport Authority.

Elizabeth A. Francis

Elizabeth Francis has taught for the NJC for 46 years. An associate professor of English and judicial studies at the UNR, she founded judicial writing as a field of study at The National Judicial College in 1982. Since then she has taught thousands of judges at the college and in court systems, agencies and conferences throughout the United States. She teaches and serves as thesis adviser for judges seeking master’s and doctoral degrees through the Judicial Studies Graduate Degree Program of UNR and the NJC. She initiated the teaching of children’s literature at UNR based on her work at Yale with Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are).

Rew R. Goodenow

A past president of the State Bar of Nevada, Rew Goodenow is a member of the NJC’s Board of Visitors and has taught judges about Complex Commercial Litigation. He was the principal author of Nevada’s Limited Liability Company Act and the treatise “Nevada Business Entities.” He serves as general counsel to the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Nevada and is a member of the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association. He offers legal counsel to businesses from the Reno office of the law firm Parsons Behle & Latimer. He is a shareholder and has also served as a director of Parsons Behle & Latimer, which in addition to Reno has offices in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Boise and Spokane.

Hon. Procter R. Hug, Jr.

A giant of Nevada’s legal profession, Proctor R. Hug, Jr. served as chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and was a student, faculty member and early board chair of The National Judicial College. Judge Hug, who died in 2019 at age 88, led the 9th Circuit from 1996 to 2000, a period during which conservative critics sought to have the massive circuit broken up, believing the court had become too liberal. Through speeches, testimony and writings, he successfully thwarted the effort. The late Nevada Senator Harry Reid called him “the man who saved the 9th Circuit.” The Reno native also served as deputy state attorney general of Nevada and general counsel to the Nevada University System.

Hon. Michael R. Montero 

NJC alumnus Michael Montero is the only judge presiding over the Sixth Judicial District of Nevada, meaning his caseload includes every civil and criminal case that originates in or proceeds to the District Court level in Humboldt County. He also oversees innovative problem-solving courts, including the Humboldt County Adult Drug Court, DUI Court and Mental Health Court. He and his staff opened the nonprofit Family Support Center in 2016 to provide community-based outpatient mental health counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, and wellness services to members of the community. He has taught more than a thousand school children, including every fifth-grader in Humboldt County, about the judiciary through the NJC’s Reading & Robes™ civics outreach program.

Peter Chase Neumann

Retired Reno trial lawyer Peter Chase Neumann has been a major donor to scholarships at The National Judicial College. He is a former member of the college’s Board of Visitors and Advisory Council. He and his late wife, Renate, founded the Angel Kiss Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping families of cancer-stricken children. The foundation also presented the Reno White Water Race & Jazz Festival. The Peter Chase Neumann Lecture on Civil Justice is a cornerstone of the Civil Justice Initiative at his alma mater, the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of law. 

Northern Nevada International Center

Over the years, scores of judges, lawyers and law students visiting Reno have connected to The National Judicial College through the Northern Nevada International Center. The Hon. Patrick Flanagan International Judicial Scholarship Endowment Fund, established in memory of a beloved Reno judge and NJC faculty member, provides scholarship support for an international judge or legal official who is an alumnus of the NNIC international visitors programs to attend a course at the NJC. The International Center has resettled more than 300 displaced refugees over the past five years, including Afghan evacuees, victims of international trafficking, asylees, and minors from Central America.

NV Energy Foundation

The NV Energy Foundation makes grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations located within its service territory to support art/culture, education/youth development, environment, and  

safety/wellness. The National Judicial College has long benefitted from its association with NV Energy through grants from the foundation and by company leaders serving on the college’s boards. The NV Energy Foundation’s more recent grants have supported existing endowments and the college’s civics outreach program for young people, Reading & Robes™.  

Hon. Shelly T. O’Neill

Reno Municipal Court Judge Shelly O’Neill is a first-generation college graduate who became one of the first 100 women admitted to the State Bar of Nevada. Her legal career includes more than a decade as chief public defender and deputy state attorney general for the Antitrust Division. She also served as a prosecutor for the City of Reno and was the general counsel to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission. For more than 15 years, she and her husband, Craig Demetras, have operated a small business law practice in Reno’s Midtown district. Demetras & O’Neill is a two-time recipient of the Washoe Legal Services’ Pro Bono Award for Small Firms. She has served as presiding judge of the Reno Veterans’ Treatment Court (CAMO-RNO), begun in 2018. 

William Raggio and Mrs. Dale Raggio

Senator Raggio was the longest-serving state senator in Nevada history, 39 years. During that time, he forged an unsurpassed legacy of legislative achievements for northern Nevada, particularly in the area of higher education. His leadership helped bring the NJC to Reno from Colorado in 1964, and he played a significant role in securing financial support for the college during his long tenure in office. He was instrumental in the creation of family, drug, mental health and other specialty courts in Nevada. His many contributions to the administration of justice were recognized when he received the Herbert Harley Award from the American Judicature Society. Senator Raggio passed away in 2012 at age 85. In 2015, Mrs. Dale Raggio launched The Senator William J. Raggio Endowment at the NJC in her husband’s memory to provide scholarships and program support for Nevada judges.

James T. Richardson 

Jim Richardson led the University of Nevada, Reno’s Graduate Degree Program in Judicial Studies from its establishment in 1986 until his retirement in 2016. The program, which includes a master’s and the world’s only doctorate in judicial studies, is offered in collaboration with The National Judicial College. He directed the master’s and doctoral judicial studies program for trial judges as well as the justice management master’s program for others who work in the justice system. He taught at UNR since 1968 and remains on the faculty as an emeritus professor of sociology and judicial studies. He is the co-author and editor of 15 books, including Regulating Religion: Case Studies from Around the Globe.

Hon. Larry Sage (Ret.)

During his 12 years as a judge of the Sparks Municipal Court, Larry Sage helped establish Nevada’s first misdemeanor Alcohol & Other Drug Court and the first Native American DUI Victim Impact Panel for the Washoe, Paiute and Shoshone tribes. A member of the NJC faculty since 1998, he holds a Master of Judicial Studies and was selected as an NJC Judicial Ambassador in 2022. He is a retired infantry colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and was inducted into the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame and the Nevada National Guard Hall of Fame. He served as a judicial/justice advisor in Afghanistan (2007-10) and as an international peace monitor in South Sudan (2018-19). In 2022 he led the college’s Civics 101 program, presented in partnership with the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

Hon. Brian Sandoval (Ret.)

A former Nevada governor and U.S. District Court judge in Nevada, Brian Sandoval has served as president of the University of Nevada, Reno since September 2020. He served two terms as governor (2011-2019) and during his time in office was chair of the National Governors Association. From 2005-2009 he was a judge of the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. Before that he served two years as Nevada’s attorney general. He has also been a senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy and a distinguished fellow of law and leadership at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law. 

Yvonne Stedham

A professor emerita in the UNR College of Business Administration’s Management Department, Yvonne Stedham has served as faculty for The National Judicial College since 2004. She has taught for the college more than 60 times, in Management Skills for Presiding Judges, Leadership for Judges, Mindfulness for Judges and other courses. She joined the UNR faculty in 1988 and from 1999-2002 served as chair for the Managerial Sciences Department. She has served on the board of directors of numerous nonprofit organizations in Northern Nevada and provides consulting and training services to many companies nationally and internationally.

Hon. Lidia Stiglich

An alumnus of the NJC and member of the faculty since 2014, Lidia Stiglich was appointed to the Nevada Supreme Court in 2016 and retained by voters in 2018. She became chief justice this year. As a district court judge in Reno, she was the co‑founder and presiding judge of the Youth Offender Drug Court. The specialty court was designed for the young adult population (ages 18 to 24) who are opiate/heroin users as an alternate sentencing/rehabilitation program. She participates in several community organizations, including the Reno Sunrise Rotary. She serves as a board member for Friends of Nevada Mansion and is an advisory member to the Sierra Nevada Ballet Board of Directors.

Hon. Robert J. Torres*

Judge Torres was appointed to the Supreme Court of Guam in 2004 and is serving his third term as chief justice. He is an executive committee member of the Pacific Judicial Council, a past president of the American Judges Association, serves on AJA’s Executive Committee and Board of Governors, and is the membership secretary for National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Judicial Council. He was the 2022 recipient of the AJA’s Judge William H. Burnett Award for outstanding service to the association.

Mark Tratos

An emeritus trustee and former chair of the Board of Trustees of The National Judicial College, Mark Tratos is also serving as co-chair of the NJC’s 60th Anniversary Committee. He is the founding shareholder of the Greenberg Traurig law firm’s Las Vegas office and has represented many artists and performers, including Teller, Ozzy Osbourne, David Copperfield, and Floyd Mayweather, as well as corporate clients Disney and Pixar. He has been a member of the adjunct faculty of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for more than 25 years and co-founded and is a past president of The Discovery Children’s Museum in Las Vegas.

Gordon I. Zimmerman

When Gordon Zimmerman retired from teaching in 2019, he had established a record as the longest-serving faculty member in the NJC’s history: 46 consecutive years teaching for the college. An expert in organizational communication, he served as an instructor in more than 300 courses, including at least one section each year of the college’s flagship General Jurisdiction course for newer trial judges. He estimates that he taught about 300 NJC course participants per year, which would add up to 14,100 judges, not accounting for those who had him for more than one course. His primary occupation was serving as a professor in the University of Nevada, Reno’s Department of Communication. He was chair of the department for 12 years.

*Educational program moderator. Chief Justice Torres received his Making the World a More Just Place Award last month at the celebration in New York City. 

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Created 60 years ago at the recommendation of a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, 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 the nonprofit and nonpartisan institution, which was founded in 1963 and has been based in Reno, Nevada, since 1964, decide more than 95 percent of cases in the United States.

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