This spring, thanks to cooperative, fast-acting ingenuity from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Judicial Education Department and University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School faculty and staff, over 200 trial and appellate court judges across Pennsylvania participated in a continuing judicial education (CJE) course focused on the especially timely topic of wellness.
The original plan for the course was to deliver a live presentation that would be simulcast to six locations across the Commonwealth. Because of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, however, the format moved entirely to online delivery – and it was “tremendously successful,” according to Stephen Feiler, PhD, Director of Judicial Education for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC).
The course planning and execution was led by Cheryl Hardy L’94, Executive Director of Legal Education Programs and Online Initiatives, and content was delivered by Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice John Hollway and Executive Director of Graduate Programs Elise Luce Kraemer L’93.
Hollway began the course by defining the concept of well-being and introducing judges to a framework for managing stress that is informed by positive psychology. He identified challenges unique to judging and introduced strategies for coping with stressors unique to judging as an occupation. Kraemer closed the day with a practical introduction to mindfulness and led judges through several meditative exercises.
“During this challenging time, we were especially excited to introduce the Judges to mindfulness techniques that can not only help them to manage their own stress, but also discuss how mindfulness practices can be used to address implicit bias,” said Kraemer.
Through teaching programs, symposia, and conferences, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts Judicial Education Department provides continuing education to more than 1,000 elected jurists across the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania trial and appellate court judges must complete 12 hours of continuing education each year, including 3 hours in judicial ethics and 9 hours in judicial practice and related areas. Judges must earn four of these hours each year through courses offered by the AOPC Judicial Education Department.
“Penn Law has been a tremendous partner in developing meaningful continuing education for judges,” said Feiler. “The outstanding faculty, staff, and resources at the Law School have greatly enhanced our course offerings.”