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Judicial Education Advisory Board

Honorable Mark Atkinson

Chief Executive Officer, Texas Center for the Judiciary

 Judge Mark D. Atkinson served 24 years on the Bench of a County Criminal Court at Law. After six terms of office he retired and was named Judicial Resource Liaison under the Texas Center’s Texas Department of Public Safety Traffic Safety Grant Program. He served two years in that capacity before being named Executive Director of the Texas Center. During his years on the Bench, he served the Texas Center and the judges of the state through leadership and educational roles. He served as Chair of the Texas Center for the Judiciary and the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas. Prior to taking the Bench in 1987, he practiced law for seven years. First licensed in 1980, he developed a practice focused on criminal, family, and civil trial law. Judge Atkinson earned his BA from the University of Texas at Austin and his law degree from South Texas College of Law, in Houston.


Mari Kay Bickett, J.D.

Chief Executive Officer, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (Retired)

Mari Kay Bickett, J.D., was Chief Executive Officer at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) from April 1, 2011 until 2016. She led the oldest and largest judicial membership organization in the nation dedicated to supporting judges in the critical work they do to improve outcomes for children and families. NCJFCJ provides training, technical assistance, and research to courts across the United States.

From 1994-2010, Ms. Bickett served as CEO of the Texas Center for the Judiciary, the primary provider of specialized judicial education and training for trial and appellate judges in Texas. During her tenure, the organization received the 2006 ABA Judicial Education Award, the Excellence in Education Award from the Governor and Lt. Governor of Texas, as well as the State Bar of Texas President’s Recognition for outstanding contribution to the education of the Texas Judiciary. While in Texas, Ms. Bickett served on various committees of the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth, and Families, and as an executive officer and board member on the Texas CASA Board of Directors.

Prior to her work in Texas, she was the academic director for the Reno-based National Judicial College, and also practiced law in Reno, served as a Judge Pro Tem in the Reno Municipal Courts, served on the CLE Committee of the State Bar of Nevada, and was President of the Northern Nevada Women Lawyers Association.

Ms. Bickett grew up in Reno, graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, and received her law degree from Nevada School of Law at Old College.


Paul Biderman

New Mexico Judicial Education Center

Paul Biderman, J.D., retired in May 2011 as Director of the University of New Mexico Institute of Public Law (IPL), and as a research faculty member of the School of Law. Prior to becoming Director of IPL, he served as founding director of the New Mexico Judicial Education Center. He was New Mexico’s Secretary of Energy and Minerals from 1983 through 1986, where he promoted energy conservation and renewable energy policies. Beginning in 1976 he founded and headed for several years the Energy and Utilities Unit within the New Mexico Attorney General’s Consumer and Economic Crimes Division, intervening on behalf of ratepayers and promoting sound utility regulatory policies. He headed the Consumer Division in 1982. Professor Biderman’s awards include the 2005 Public Lawyer of the Year Award from the State Bar of New Mexico, and the 1997 Judicial Education Award from the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association. He has served on numerous community and professional non-profit boards, with terms as president of six organizations, including Monte del Sol Charter School, the Western Interstate Energy Board, the National Association of State Judicial Educators, and the Ghost Ranch Conference Center National Governing Board.

Honorable Jim Dehn

10th Judicial District, MN

James E. Dehn is a Tenth Judicial District judge for Isanti County, Minnesota. He was appointed to his current position in 1987 and elected to full terms in 1988, 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012. Judge Dehn began his legal career in 1976 as a Special Assistant Attorney General in Minnesota. In 1979, he became an Assistant Isanti County Attorney. The following year, he left this position to start his own law office, where he practiced until his judicial appointment in 1987. Judge Dehn received a B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1971 and his J.D. from the William Mitchell College of Law in 1975. Judge Dehn has received numerous awards, including the 2011 Civic Education Committee Citizen Lawyer Award from the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA). He pioneered the staggered sentencing approach for repeat drunk driving offenders, which is now utilized in over 30 states and was studied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Judge Dehn was the first judge in the nation to require repeat drunk driving offenders to wear a pre-trial continuous alcohol monitoring device. He also founded the Minnesota SAFE RIDE program, a successful public/private partnership that has dramatically reduced drunk driving in Isanti County.

Claudia J. Fernandes

 Judicial Educator

Claudia Fernandes has over 30 years of experience with the judicial branch in various administrative, educational, and managerial capacities and over 12 years as a part-time teacher of adult education courses. She was a Criminal Division Chief and a traffic supervisor for 13 years in the local courts prior to working with the Administrative Office of the Courts Education Division/CJER as a Senior Education Specialist. Educational assignments over the years have been in the areas of Judicial, administrative, manager and supervisor and court staff education.

As a member of NASJE (The National Association of State Judicial Educators) she has served in various capacities, as faculty, chairs of committees, and as President of the Association. She has taught at various venues throughout the years as an educator both locally and internationally. She has taught faculty and curriculum development to staff, manager/supervisors, Judicial Officers, PJS, and CEOS through the years. In addition to her work at the AOC, she has taught outside the AOC at various conferences for the CCJ/COSCA association, The California Court Association, the Fremont Adult School, and  the IOJT conference in Canada. She served as the editor and chair for the California Court Associations’ statewide magazine.

Claudia’s educational degrees include a master’s degree in Public Administration, a bachelor’s degree in business administration, a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a teaching credential in adult education.

Honorable Karl Grube

Senior Judge, FL

Judge Grube has 38 years of service on the bench, first as a County Court Judge in St. Petersburg, Florida, and now as a Senior Judge in the criminal and civil divisions of Florida’s County and Circuit Courts. Judge Grube has served as a national, state and local judicial educator for many years including his term as President of the Florida Conference of County Court Judges, Assistant Dean of the Florida New Judges College, Chairperson of the American Bar Association’s National Conference of Specialized Court Judges, Associate Dean of the Florida College of Advanced Judicial Studies, member of the Supreme Court’s Florida Court Education and a member of the National Judicial College’s Faculty for more than 30 years. Judge Grube has taught judges, prosecutors and defense counsel of an array of legal topics including Judicial Ethics and Impaired Driving Trial issues. Judge Grube served as Regional Judicial Outreach Liaison for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for four years and as the Florida State Judicial Outreach Liaison from 2010 through 2013.

Honorable Harvey Hoffman

56-A District Court, Eaton County, Michigan (Retired)

The Honorable Harvey Hoffman was the Chief Judge of 56-A District Court in Charlotte, Michigan from 2004 until 2016. Judge Hoffman was a sitting DWI Court judge beginning in 1997 and was the longest serving DWI Court judge in the United States at the time of his retirement. Prior to this role, he had a private law practice in Lansing from 1983 to 1996. Judge Hoffman has previously served as the President of the Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals (MADCP), Chairman of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) DWI Committee, and the NADCP Senior Judicial Fellow. He was also named the NHTSA Judicial Fellow for 2011-2012. Judge Hoffman is also the primary author of the Michigan Drug Treatment Court Statute and the Michigan DWI Court/Restricted License Interlock Legislation. He has been the recipient of multiple awards and recognition for his work with regard to impaired driving. He received his B.A. from Western Michigan University and his J.D. from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Honorable Kent Lawrence

State Court of Clarke County, GA

Judge Lawrence was the elected judge of the State Court of Athens-Clarke County from November 1985 until his retirement in 2011. Prior to assuming this position, he worked as a patrol officer, special investigator with the District Attorney’s office, a countywide drug task force officer, Chief of Police, and a prosecuting attorney. In 1992, he was appointed by former Governor Zell Miller to the Statewide DUI Task Force. He served two years on the twenty-four member State Judicial Council which evaluates policies for court administration and recommends improvements in the state’s judicial system. He served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education of Georgia from 1995-2002. Judge Lawrence implemented the first DUI/Drug Court in Georgia in February, 2001. He currently serves on both the Statewide Drug Court Advisory Committee for the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Judicial Council Standing Committee on Drug Courts. In 2005, he was the recipient of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director’s Award in recognition and dedication to the highest standards of excellence in promoting public safety in Georgia. He has been a facilitator for DUI/Drug Court teams around the country. He has served as President of the Council of State Court Judges of Georgia and is an active member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Western Judicial Circuit Bar Association. Judge Lawrence has both a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Georgia, and received a Juris Doctorate Degree from Woodrow Wilson College of Law in 1978.

John Meeks

Vice President, Institute for Court Management

John R. Meeks is the Vice President of the Institute for Court Management at the National Center for State Courts. He was the Director of the Supreme Court of Ohio Judicial College from 1996–2006 and a Senior Attorney at the Supreme Court of Florida Office of the State Court Administrator from 1989–1996. A member of the Florida Bar, he practiced law in Pensacola, Florida, from 1985–1989. Meeks is a past president of the National Association of State Judicial Educators (August 2006–August 2007). He has been a frequent presenter at state and national judicial branch education programs on the topics of adult education, faculty development, curriculum development, leadership, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. He received his B.A. from the University of the South (Sewanee) in 1982 and his J.D. from Stetson University College of Law in 1985.

Honorable Earl Penrod

Superior Court Judge, Gibson County, Indiana

Judge Earl Penrod has sat on the bench in Gibson County since his election in 1983. Judge Penrod served as chair of the Indiana Judicial Education Committee from 2002 until 2006 and periodically teaches for the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, the Indiana Judicial Center and the Masters Program for the Indiana Judicial College. He joined the faculty of The National Judicial College in 2003. Judge Penrod has been an adjunct faculty member at Oakland City University for more than 25 years where he teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate level law-related courses.  He teaches for the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association and presently chairs the Traffic Court Committee for the National Conference of Specialized Court Judges and serves on the ABA/JD Committee on Judicial Evaluation. In 2007, Judge Penrod was appointed by the Governor of Indiana to serve on the Law Enforcement Training Board, which oversees the education and training of all police officers in the State of Indiana. In 2008, the Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court appointed Judge Penrod to chair the first ever Judicial Performance and Evaluation Task Force for the state of Indiana. Judge Penrod is the current NHTSA/ABA Judicial Fellow and in this role, he seeks to improve highway and pedestrian safety through education, collegiality, communication, and community outreach activities. He received both his undergraduate degree and his law degree from the University of Louisville. He also received a Master of Judicial Studies (MJS) degree from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Honorable Robert Pirraglia

Rhode Island District Court (Retired)

Judge Robert Pirraglia is a retired judge for the Rhode Island District Court. He earned his B.A. from Providence College and his J.D. from George Washington University Law School. He was appointed to chair a National Committee to Defend the Judiciary from Unfair Attacks by the chair of the Judicial Division of the ABA. He is a member of the Rhode Island and American Bar Associations. Judge Pirraglia has written articles on the role of the judge and court and media relations for the American Judicature Society, National Judicial College, the ABA Judicial Division Newsletter and for local Rhode Island newspapers. He has planned and implemented three Presidential Showcase programs at ABA Annual Meetings dealing with the relationship between the courts, the community and the media. Judge Pirraglia has been teaching throughout the United States for 10 years subjects including “The Role of the Judge,” court/media relations, judicial outreach, evidence, criminal procedure, and judicial independence. He has taught for the ABA, the AJA, the National Center for State Courts, and for twenty state judiciaries. Judge Pirraglia also hosts a weekly cable television program called “The Judges’ Roundtable.” He has been chosen as the NHTSA Judicial Fellow with the task of providing educational programs and materials to judges who handle traffic related cases. Judge Pirraglia is an NJC alumnus and joined the faculty in 1992. Judge Pirraglia serves as a member of the ABA House of Delegates, the Association’s policy making body, representing The Judicial Division’s Specialized Court Judges.

Judge Richard Vlavianos

San Joaquin County Superior Court

Judge Richard Vlavianos has served as a superior court judge since 1999. His particular areas of expertise in the field of law and court administration include collaborative justice, juvenile, substance abuse, mental health, truancy, and DUI. Judge Vlavianos was the presiding judge of the juvenile court from 2002 to 2005 and has been the chair of the Youth and Education Subcommittee of the Superior Court of San Joaquin County’s Community-Focused Court Planning Team since 2000. He has extensive law-related education experience, including teaching for the Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER), the National Judicial College, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the International Association of Truancy and Dropout Prevention. He has been recognized nationally for establishing the DUI Monitoring Court program in Stockton, California. This program adapts the traditional DUI Court model and utilizes a tiered approach to supervise a large volume of repeat and high-risk offenders. Judge Vlavianos has received honors and awards from the San Joaquin County Bar Association, Mediation Center of San Joaquin, San Joaquin Office of Education, and the Kevin E. Quinlan Award for Excellence in Traffic Safety.

Chelsea Woodall

Director, Creative Learning Services, National Center for State Courts

Chelsea Woodall is the Director of Creating Learning Services at the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). She designs all of the Institute for Court Management’s online courses and creates other rich media applications that extend and enhance course development and delivery. She joined NCSC in 2008 having previously worked as a Multimedia Producer at the Daily Press and the Virginia Gazette. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from the College of William & Mary.

Katheryn Yetter, Esq.

Academic Director, National Judicial College

Katheryn Yetter became academic director of The National Judicial College (NJC) in 2012. Before joining the NJC, she was senior attorney for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. In this capacity, she managed the day-to-day operations of over $1M in federally grant-funded projects designed to improve the justice system’s response to child protection, custody, and visitation-related matters. Ms. Yetter was also a policy analyst for the Oregon Judicial Department in the areas of juvenile, criminal, and family law, providing staff support to the State Family Advisory Committee Subcommittee on Domestic Violence and the Juvenile Court Improvement Project Advisory Committee. Ms. Yetter co-authored the publication “A Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases,” the first national comprehensive tool for judicial decision making in custody and visitation cases when domestic violence is a factor. Some of her other publications include “Moving Beyond ‘Failure to Protect’” in West Virginia (2010), “Judicial Decision Making in Custody and Visitation Cases” (2008), “Responding to Allegations of Parental Alienation Syndrome” (2008), and “Data Warehouse ‘JOIN’s’ Oregon’s Court and Agency Systems” (2006). She has written curricula and given presentations on behalf of the National Center for State Courts, the California Administrative Office of Courts, the Oregon Judicial Department, the Nevada Bar Association, the Battered Women’s Justice Project, and Futures Without Violence, among others. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar and the American Bar Association, and is a graduate of Willamette University College of Law and the University of Oregon.