THE INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY OF TRIAL JUDGES
45th Annual Business Meeting
Judge Derek Hunt, President
Charleston & Savannah
President Derek W. Hunt & Amy
Chancellor Cheryl Leininger & Hon. Ronald E. Owen
Hon. Barry Michaelson & Jane
Hon. Eileen Moore & Michael
Hon. Wendell Mortimer & Ceil
Hon. William F. Rylaarsdam & Barbara
Hon. Robert Soares & Punky
President-elect James Stotler
Hon. Nancy Zeltzer & Barry
Sarah E. Guevara, Chief Administrative Officer
Ms. Diane Bowen, Chief Administrative Officer Emeritus
Mr. Paul Anderson
Mrs. Jaci Einhorn
Mrs. Jean Godfrey
Mrs. Sandra Hall
SATURDAY: The Academy Fellows arrived and transferred to the French Quarter Inn Hotel in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. A Welcome Cocktail was available at the PawPaw Restaurant, then everyone enjoyed dinner at the High Cotton Restaurant, and other local restaurants.
SUNDAY: In the morning, the group left the French Quarter Inn by horse-drawn carriages to tour historic downtown Charleston. The tour guide explained how an economic recession and Charleston’s strict building restrictions allowed the city to retain its authenticity and unique beauty. One of several building restrictions in Charleston prevents developers from building any home or building taller than a church steeple. This restriction allows residents and tourists alike to see the bodies of water and beautiful landscapes that surround the historic city. The carriage tour included sightseeing of some of the city’s most beautiful mansions, gardens, and churches, as well as an account of Charleston’s historical roots in slavery. The tour guide also pointed out where many homes were severely damaged or destroyed during the Great Fire in the 1800s. The group was impressed by the city’s unique architecture and landscape. Once the tour concluded, the group returned to the French Quarter Inn for lunch and a free afternoon to continuing exploring the historic District.
In the evening, the group met in the Lobby for a short walk to Magnolia’s Restaurant where they welcomed their guests for the evening, Judge Richard Gergel, and his wife Dr. Belinda Gergel, who advised that Magnolia’s offers some of the best southern food downtown Charleston has to offer. The group commented on how much they enjoyed the atmosphere and the food.
As the dinner concluded, Judge Gergel gave a presentation that captivated the group. Judge Gergel, is a federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, and was the presiding judge for the infamous Dylaan Roof case. Dylaan Roof, a self-proclaimed white supremacist from South Carolina, was in his early twenties when he decided to open fire on several bible study parishioners in a historically black church in the state. A jury convicted Mr. Roof on the 33 counts he had been charged of, and he was sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Although Judge Gergel has an impressive legal career, he spoke very little of his accomplishments, and focused on his passion for history and civil rights. Judge Gergels described the history of the early Jewish community in Columbia, South Carolina. His book In Pursuit of the Tree of Life, which he co-authored with his wife, elaborates on the Jewish settlement of the area. Judge Gergel also spoke about Julius Waties Waring, a federal judge who was a trailblazer of the civil rights movement in the 1940s and 1950s. Judge Waring was the presiding judge on the Briggs vs. Elliott case. A case considered extremely influential in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, which found the “separate but equal” system in the country to be illegal.
Judge Gergel also mentioned the many personal trials Judge Waring faced living in a time and place where the social climate was not favorable to outlawing a “separate but equal” system. Judge Gergel’s book Unexampled Courage seems to be an appropriate title for a book that describes the life Judge Waring lived. Judge Gergel now presides in the same courtroom as Judge Waring. Before he left for the evening, Judge Gergel extended an invitation for the group to see the courthouse and his courtroom. The dinner concluded, and the group enjoyed a short walk back to the hotel.
MONDAY: In the morning, the group and tour guide met in the Lobby to depart for Liberty Square for a boat ride through Charleston Harbor to tour Fort Sumter. At Fort Sumter, a local guide explained the significance of this once occupied military base during the American Civil War. In April of 1861, this federal fort was attacked by Confederate artillery which began the war between the North and South. Preserved artillery and cannons from the 1800s are on full display for visitors. The tour also included a brief observance of the American Flag. The group and other tourists stood in full attention to watch the guide raise the American flag; it seemed to be a touching moment for all. The group enjoyed touring the fort and its museum. After the tour, the group re-boarded the boat to return to Liberty Square.
From Liberty Square, the group re-boarded the bus to be transported to Middleton Plantation,a spectacular sight to see. There were several hundred acres of gardens. The property was once approximately 500 acres when it was given as a dowry to Henry Middleton for his marriage to Mary Williams. The group strolled over to the dining area for a lunch buffet, which had many southern food items to choose from. After lunch, the group was free to tour the plantation. The plantation had many gardens, gift shops, and guides to educate visitors on how this large area of land was and is maintained. Some of the group toured what is now considered the main house on the plantation. The original main house and one of the flankers were destroyed by Confederate soldiers. After the tour, the group returned to the French Quarter Inn.
Several members of the group were dropped off in front of the federal courthouse in Charleston to meet with Judge Gergel. Judge Gergel gave the group a tour of the courtroom he now presides over, and pointed out the statue of Judge Waring located in the courtyard in front of the courthouse.
TUESDAY: In the morning the Academy group departed the French Quarter Inn by motor coach to Savannah. On the way to Savannah, the group stopped in Beaufort to tour the famous John Mark Vendier House and enjoy lunch at the Panini Restaurant.
John Mark Vendier was a French Huguenot who became a highly successful merchant and planter in Beaufort, South Carolina. At the Vendier House, the tour guide explained the home’s architectural style; known as Federalist, and how the house was a prime example of prominence for Beaufort’s elite class in the 1700s. Federalist style was described as the windows being symmetrical to the doors in the house. The guide also explained a popular 18th century concrete in South Carolina called tabby, which was used to build the first floor in the home. Tabby was a mixture of broken sea shells, lime, water, and sand. The Vendier house is one of the few remaining homes in Beaufort from the 1700s. After the tour, everyone enjoyed walking around the small town. The group then re-boarded the bus to continue to Savannah.
In the afternoon, the group arrived at the Marshall House Hotel. In the evening, the group met in the lobby for a short walk to Paula Deen’s famous restaurant The Lady & Son’s. The restaurant was a buffet with many southern entrées and dessert options the group enjoyed.
WEDNESDAY: In the morning, the group met in the lobby and boarded a trolley for a two hour tour of Savannah’s Historic District. The tour included full narration of the Old City Market, the Riverfront, Forthsyth Park, and well maintained park squares throughout the city. Scenes from the movie Forrest Gump were filmed here, and Savannah is also the location of events that took place in the book The Garden of Good and Evil. Several members of the group who read the book, said the book described the homes and surrounding parks perfectly. The group was impressed with how well preserved and maintained Savannah’s historic district is. The tour guide informed the group that the average cost of a home surrounding many of the park squares is in the millions, and how sanitation workers employed by the city, clean the parks every few hours. After the tour, the group enjoyed lunch at the Gryphon restaurant, which is owned by the Savannah College of Art and Design, also known as SCAD. The restaurant, a former pharmacy and college library, had both a historic and elegant décor. Following lunch, the Judges and academy officers returned to the Marshal House for the IATJ business meeting, while the rest of the group continued touring the city.
Annual Business Meeting
Judge Hunt thanked everyone for coming on the trip and believed it has been very successful and a fortunate second choice for the trip (since the trip proposed to southern Italy was not filled to our minimum).
Upon motion by Judge Leininger, second by Judge Mortimer , the minutes of the 2017 Budapest/Bucharest trip were unanimously approved as written.
The Treasurer’s Report was submitted by Diane Bowen reflecting a beginning balance of $4,117.03 as of October 1, 2017. Income derived from dues, initiation fees and scholarship donations was $5,795.35. Expenses totaled $6,972.50. The balance on hand as of September 13, 2018 was $2,939.88. In last year’s meeting, it was noted that Trinity Law School in Dublin had never cashed the donation check which they were given in 2016. Diane noted she was able to reach the professor, and a new check was re-issued. Upon motion by Judge Soares, second by Judge Leininger, the report was approved as presented.
The Membership Report was presented by CAO Sarah E. Guevara and discussed. Two members are delinquent for 2017 and 2018 dues. Upon motion by Judge Hunt, second by Judge Mortimer, they were dropped for non-payment of dues. Two other members are delinquent for 2018 dues.
Three new members joined the Academy, and there was one resignation, mail returned from three members, and four passed away this last year Of the four deceased members, three were former Presidents of the Academy: Judges Constine, Goertzen and IATJ Founder Bill Keene. There were six pending nominations from 2016, five which were declared lapsed. There were various nominations pending for 2017 and 2018. These were discussed and members will follow up on their nominations.
One re-nomination is pending from Judge Rylaarsdam, and he will contact his nominee. There was discussion regarding nomination methods and procedures as set forth in the IATJ Bylaws. Motion by Judge Hunt and second by Judge Mortimer to continue to process nominations as presently defined in the Bylaws.
The Nominating Committee usually consisting of past-presidents, this year was chaired by Judge Mortimer and Judge Hunt. They presented the following recommendations: Judge Stotler as President, Judge Leininger as President-elect, and Judges Seymour and Murphy will continue as Secretary-Treasurer (to facilitate banking). The nomination for Chancellor (and 2020 president) was opened to the floor. After discussion, Commissioner Michaelson agreed to take the position as Chancellor and President in 2020. The nominations were moved closed and unanimously approved.
Sarah Guevara is the current CAO but Diane will continue some functions, and and Sarah will assume more responsibility for Academy business.
Judge Stotler presented a tentative itinerary for the 2019 trip. It will be Israel, including Tel Aviv, Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee, and Jerusalem. Cultural and scenic activities will include old and new neighborhoods of Tel Aviv, the Western Wall, the Dead Sea, and Bethlehem. An add-on trip could be Jordan. Judge Leininger is very interested in Spain for the 2020 trip. Two dates were presented for the Israel trip.
At 4:15, the meeting was adjourned.
In the evening, the group departed separately to enjoy dinner at their own leisure. Several members of the group met in the lobby to listen to Hugh, the manager of the hotel, give a “history of the Marshall House” followed by a concert by harpist Kristin King during the hotel’s wine reception.
In the morning, many members met in the dining room for a continental breakfast and enjoyed meeting a few southern belles. The belles walked around the hotel to greet and take photos with guests. The day was a free day and members did various things, including visiting the old market, touring antebellum town homes, walking around the various parks and shopping.In the evening the Academy group enjoyed a Farewell Dinner at The Pirates’ House Restaurant. President Derek Hunt presented Sarah with a welcome and thank you gift for assisting in planning the trip. Judge Hunt was presented with several items to thank him and Amy for his leadership and for planning the trip.
In the morning, the group left for home with some members extending their trip to visit more of the South.
Written by Sarah E. Guevara, Chief Administrative Officer
I certify that all Fellows of the Academy listed above attended the meeting of the Academy.
President Derek Hunt