Education Center receives national award
Judicial Court funds domestic violence virtual trial
E. Sanchez Judicial Education Center of New Mexico (JEC) at
the Institute of Public Law, UNM School of Law, has been recognized
for its innovative Web-based educational programming.
Paul Biderman, associate director of Public Law, UNM, accepted
the Howell Heflin Award, presented annually by the State Justice
Institute (SJI) to a project it funded that has a high
likelihood of significantly improving the quality of justice
in state courts around the nation.
a federally funded public corporation based in Alexandria, Va.,
that supports development and advancement of state and local
was held at the Great Hall of the United States Supreme Court
in Washington, D.C., during a reception preceding the National
Center for State Courts annual William H. Rehnquist Award
for Judicial Excellence Dinner.
annual award went to JEC for its judicial education Web site.
In particular, SJI noted the Web course on Alternate Dispute
Resolution in the Courts developed and offered to the New Mexico
judiciary last spring. The dispute resolution course provides
streamed videos of New Mexico experts discussing aspects of
mediation techniques in the courts. The lectures are accompanied
by visual aids, including a demonstration of dispute resolution
techniques, an online PowerPoint presentation participants can
watch while a presenter speaks and online discussion group among
participants and speaker. Participants can also link to
more detailed materials. The course is offered in four
weekly modules about an hour each week.
members retired New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Joseph Baca
and Bernalillo Country District Court Judge Tommy Jewell presented
the award to Biderman.
isolated communities is a daily challenge to
New Mexicos courts and delivering judicial education to
the judges and court personnel who serve in these areas is a
special challenge to the Judicial Education Center, Jewell
then recognized Judicial Education Center Web designer Pam Castaldi
for conception and construction of the Web site and retired
District Court Judge Rozier E. Sanchez, whose efforts launched
the creation of the JEC. Both were present at the ceremony.
educators provide judges with the opportunities and tools to
anticipate and confront the future, Biderman said.
Judicial Education Center launched in 1991 at the UNM Institute
of Public Law with a $167,000 SJI grant. JEC is supported primarily
through state funds, but relies on grant funding to help develop
innovative educational programs for state judges and court staff.
In 1997, a $100,000 SJI grant launched the Web site.
education is an annual requirement for the judiciary. JECs
judicial education Web site at http://jec.unm.edu includes programs
and resources for the courts, including a virtual trial on drunk
driving, a set of benchbooks for limited jurisdiction judges
and court staff and various text-based tutorials on law and
JEC was awarded a $60,000 grant from the Office of the District
Attorney for the First Judicial District of New Mexico (Rio
Arriba, Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties) to develop a second
virtual trial, this one dealing with domestic violence.
is from federal funds distributed by the Violence Against Women
Act (VAWA) Grants office in the Department of Justice.
will use streamed video, pop-up windows and text to address
common issues in a criminal trial. Judges have an opportunity
to make procedural and legal decisions in a situation similar
to what they will deal with in the courtroom. It is very
interactive. It is designed to be a two-way process, Biderman
can access the program, or any JEC program, from a laptop computer
at anytime, even while making a ruling on the bench. The programs
are also useful for other court professionals, including law
enforcement, victim advocates and counselors.
the domestic violence virtual trial will complement an online
course JEC is developing on domestic violence. That course,
funded with other VAWA grants from the Santa Fe District Attorney
and the Crime Reparations Commission, should be finished by
early next year.
hope the course and virtual trial will help improve handling
of domestic violence cases in the courts, Biderman says.
Judges can be unfamiliar with how complex and different
domestic violence cases are. There is the element of victim
protection, for example, and the concern about continued unlawful
conduct against the same victims.
the virtual trial is designed for the First Judicial District,
it, and other JEC Web programs and resources, are accessible
to court and domestic violence professionals anywhere in the
state. Since the site came online five years ago, judiciary
participation in New Mexico has steadily climbed.
in remote areas have become Web savvy, Biderman said.
site could gain interest from court professionals around the
world because it is accessible, Biderman said, adding
that it receives some hits outside the United States.
we hope we are improving the quality of justice, he said.
call 277-8789, firstname.lastname@example.org.