Launching the Master of Laws in Judicial Studies

May 21, 2012Duke Law News

The inaugural class of the new Duke Law Master of Laws in Judicial Studies program has begun the first of two in-residence summer terms.

The class includes judges from state and federal courts throughout the United States, as well as two international judges, from Canada and Ghana. They are participating in a full four-week term of courses and activities that include everything from a two-day seminar taught by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to a Durham Bulls game with other Duke Law summer students. They return for another four-week term next summer.

The program is an initiative of Duke’s Center for Judicial Studies, which launched last fall. In addition to the degree program for judges, the center will host three conference series focusing on academic research relating to the judiciary; emerging legal issues and law reform; and training for corporate in-house counsel. The center and the degree program grew out of Dean David F. Levi’s recognition of the need for academic opportunities for judges and Duke Law’s scholarly strength in the study of the judiciary. Levi is a former federal judge.

“We created this center because we saw there was a growing divide between the academy and the practicing bar and bench,” John Rabiej, director of the Center for Judicial Studies, told the judges who comprise the master’s program’s first class during an orientation session Sunday. “It seemed that law review articles had less and less relevance to the work that judges were doing day to day. This program is one way in which we’ll bring the academy and the bench together to help bridge this divide. We hope it will be helpful to you as well as to those in the academy who study the judiciary.”

The degree program requires 22 course credits earned in-residence at Duke over two successive summer terms, as well as writing a thesis. During this first semester, judges will participate in eight courses taught primarily by Duke Law faculty:

» Analytical Methods (Professor John de Figueiredo)
» Study of the Judiciary (Professors Mitu Gulati and Jack Knight)
» International Law in U.S. Courts (Professors Curt Bradley and Laurence Helfer)
» Constitutional Courts (U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito)
» Federalism (Professors Margaret Lemos and Ernest Young)
» Forensic Finance (Professor Michael Bradley)
» Judicial History (Professor Jefferson Powell)
» Judges’ Seminar (Dean David F. Levi, Professor Francis McGovern, and Judge Lee Rosenthal of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas)

“What’s distinctive about this curriculum is the focus on the judiciary as an institution,” said Jack Knight, the Frederic Cleaveland Professor of Law and Political Science, who serves as co-academic director of the Center for Judicial Studies with Professor Mitu Gulati. “There are some traditional law school courses, focusing on jurisprudence and recent issues in law, and there are some social science courses, focusing on the administration of courts and how the courts are organized. It is an interesting blend of approaches, and we are thinking it will facilitate productive discussions and perhaps new ideas for further scholarly study.”

During orientation, the judges introduced themselves to one another. A wide range of experiences and backgrounds was evident among the group. One has just accepted senior status after more than 30 years on the bench; another has been a judge for just two years and noted that, because her previous professional experience was in the executive branch of government, she was particularly excited to learn more about judicial institutions.

Following is a complete list of judges participating in the program. To see bios and photos of the inaugural class of judges and faculty, as well as a complete list of courses and speakers, download the Judicial Studies Master’s brochure. To learn more about the degree program, visit the Center for Judicial Studies website.

Duke Master of Laws in Judicial Studies Inaugural Class

Dennis Adjei
Justice of The Court of Appeal (Ghana)

Robert E. Belanger
Judge, 19th Judicial Circuit of Florida

Kevin A. Blazs
Judge, Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida

Andre M. Davis
Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Marsha Erb
Justice, Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta (Canada)

Jon Ferguson
Judge, Superior Court of California, San Bernardino County

Kem Thompson Frost
Justice, Court of Appeals for the 14th District of Texas

Eva Guzman
Justice, Supreme Court of Texas

George Hanks
U.S. Magistrate Judge, Southern District of Texas

James E. Hardin, Jr.
Superior Court Judge, 14th Judicial District of North Carolina

Robert Hunter
Judge, North Carolina Court of Appeals

Barbara Jackson
Associate Justice, Supreme Court of North Carolina

Renee Cohn Jubelirer
Judge, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

Simone Marstiller
Judge, Florida First District Court of Appeal

Philip Pro
Judge, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada

Delissa Ridgway
Judge, U.S. Court of International Trade

Donna Stroud
Associate Judge, North Carolina Court of Appeals

Patricia Timmons-Goodson
Associate Justice, Supreme Court of North Carolina