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Judge Anna J. Brown: “Fundamentally inclined toward solving problems” –Lifetime Service Award 2019

 

Committee Work/Skill Enhancement

Judge Brown built on her longstanding interest in jury matters while serving as a member and then chair of the 9th Circuit Jury Instructions Committee from 2006-10, a member and then chair of the Jury Trial Improvement Committee from 2011-15 (helping to organize the Circuit’s first Jury Summit in 2014), and a member of the Judicial Conference U.S. Court Administration and Case Management Committee from 2013-19. She noted in a September 2019 interview that it was through this service “I came to appreciate that courts, judges, and trial lawyers often take for granted a citizen’s participation in the process and that we really needed to do a whole lot better to ensure that when a juror crossed the threshold into the courthouse, their time and service was respected not just in words, but in practice.” She emphasized the importance of working with jurors “to help minimize all those different impacts that they feel beyond the substantive challenges they face in deciding a case. If we could take away those unnecessary worries, like whether the judge will really recess the case at the end of the day at a promised time, then jurors would be less distracted and able to do a better job with their primary duty.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale of the District of Idaho recalls that Judge Brown’s leadership on the Jury Trial Improvement Committee “enhanced the communication that gets out there to the jury administrators and to the judges, so that now the judges and the jury administrators have access to recommendations for how to make that experience as positive as we can, keeping it in compliance with the law, of course. . . .We made it known to all of the courts that jurors, after their service on a trial that may be very emotional (or more emotional than others, like for example a case involving child pornography), that the jurors can be entitled to some sort of counseling before they end their term. That’s taking care of the jurors and appreciating the fact that what they go through in a trial can be as highly emotional as it is for witnesses and the parties, and for that matter, the judge.”

“The most difficult of my career”

As noted, Judge Brown started in October 2013 the first of two terms of service with the Court Administration and Case Management Committee (CACM ) of the U.S. Judicial Conference. Current chair of the CACM Committee, Judge Audrey Fleissig of the Eastern District of Missouri, describes the broad range of the committee’s work as follows: “The CACM committee covers almost every aspect of case management and court operations within the federal system, from records management to jury issues, to technology to recommendations on how we handle our cases.”

The 2016 and 2017 Malheur trials especially drew on a range of skills Judge Brown developed throughout her career and were, for her CACM Committee colleagues, a real-time workshop for many of the case management issues they were charged to address. Judge Fleissig noted: “I know that we all found it incredible, but not surprising, to hear of her commitment, her display of integrity, and her creativity in dealing with one of the most high profile criminal cases that we saw in the federal system these past few years. . . .She handled that with the whole world watching, which is not an easy thing to do.” Judge Kimberly Frankel agrees: “Whatever it is that [Judge Brown] is having to deal with is what her passion is. Getting this case through, getting it right. She will not scatter herself. . . she really bores in.”

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