Friday, April 7th, marked the 2017 Judicial and Bar Conference at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center where hundreds of DC judges, Bar leadership and active members of the legal community gathered to enlighten others and discuss topics pertaining to this year's theme, "Justice for All?: Bias and Discrimination in the 21st Century." The call to order and State of the Courts reports were given by DC Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby and DC Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin. DC Bar President Annamaria Steward then followed with remarks on the state of the DC Bar. Chief Judge Morin noted what a pleasure it has been to partner with Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby after knowing her for twenty years and his commitment to continue to work together for the continued advancement of the DC Courts.
The conference's signature event was a keynote address delivered by Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Ms.Ifill is nationally recognized as an advocate in the areas of civil rights, voting rights, judicial diversity, and judicial decision-making. During her remarks, Ms. Ifill highlighted the importance of understanding that racial injustices and prejudices remain a reality in our justice system, sharing that her dream that "...any judge, state or federal, will be taught how to manage their biases...I don't think it should be optional for judges, it should be required." She received a standing ovation at the conclusion of her remarks, and Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby, continued the praise, saying "That was a powerful message that challenged us not to just keep working but to work even harder as we try to ensure and maintain the rule of law."
The remainder of the conference included a series of seminars that related to the main focus of justice, with sessions devoted to topics such as religious profiling, gender bias, and LGBT equality.