Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealI received some interesting news recently from Heather Murphy (she is the Director of Communications for the Arizona Supreme Court and Administrative Office of the Courts). Heather let me know that judicial education—what we all know as COJET—turned 30 this week. (It doesn’t look a day over 20!)

The anniversary was on November 18, to be precise. (And when you’re dealing with continuing education, you want to be precise!)

When it comes to lawyer education—MCLE—I have heard an earful over the years. But many attorneys may be unaware of all the continuing ed that judicial officers must obtain.

I am looking for stories of court innovation that we can tell in 2014 as part of our NextLaw initiative, and I’m expecting some of those stories may come from our own Supreme Court. I appreciate this story, which is a jump-start on that effort.

Here is a great retelling of the events that led up to this year’s anniversary, as told by the Court itself:

Arizona Supreme Court building

Arizona Supreme Court


On this date in 1983, the Arizona Supreme Court established the Council on Judicial Education and Training (COJET). The purpose was to establish educational policies and standards for the court system. Training through COJET covers everything from changes in law, best practices, innovations in court settings, and current issues or topics affecting the administration of justice in our communities.

Now 30 years later, COJET courses have evolved from classroom or seminar-based learning to courses delivered through the internet, via webinars and other technology-based delivery methods. Technology has made it possible to deliver training to the entire state judiciary on a cost-effective basis.

Every full-time employee of the court system is responsible for adhering to a 16-credit hour COJET training requirement to ensure that the staff receives timely, relevant continuing education to enhance and support their role in the courts. People working fewer than 40 hours per week also have training requirements varying from four to 12 hours.

“COJET training is required for everyone, from human resources and support staff to detention and probation officers, managers, clerks and administrators,” said Jeff Schrade, Education Services Director at the Arizona Supreme Court. “For the 2012 calendar year, we delivered training to 8,822 employees statewide.”

For the typical employee, training can be a combination of self-study courses, seminars or conferences. At least six of the credit hours must be facilitated learning in a workshop, seminar, conference, educational group broadcast or college course that meets certain accreditation requirements.

Over the past 30 years, the Council has become the Committee on Judicial Education and Training and the scope has widened to include monitoring the quality of educational programs, recommending changes in policies and standards and approving guidelines for training programs.

Schrade outlined some of his group’s milestones over the last 30 years:

  • The first COJET training videos were produced in 1988.
  • In 1991, the topic of domestic violence was selected for the first statewide broadcast training, which was delivered to five remote sites.
  • An all-day broadcast on victims’ rights followed in 1992.
  • The first national broadcast program took place in 1993 on the topic of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • The Probation Officer Certification Academy was launched in 1995.
  • In 1998, Arizona became one of a small number of states authorized to deliver locally the accredited programs normally offered at the National Center for State Courts in Virginia.
  • The Judicial Education Center opened in 2001, providing a central location with multiple classroom configurations for large or small training events.
  • The Arizona Supreme Court began delivering courses via webcast in 2009.
  • In 2012, training requirements were temporarily pared back to 12 hours for non-judge court staff due to budget constraints at the state, county and municipal court levels.
  • In 2013, the 16-hour COJET requirement for full-time staff was restored.
  • The Presiding Judges Leadership Academy was also launched in 2013.

“The secret to our success is that we deliver highly relevant training on issues that court staff encounter on a regular basis but we also focus on emerging issues and trends,” Schrade explained. “We have a great committee that helps us plan training classes, study and respond to evaluations and develop new curriculum as needed.”

A few days ago, I happily related a recognition bestowed on two men, Paul Julien and Mark Meltzer, who serve justice in Arizona every day. Much to my delight, there is a cheery follow-up on this Change of Venue Friday.

In that post, I had noted an Arizona Attorney Magazine cover that featured Jeff Schrade, who heads up Education Services at the Supreme Court Administrative Office of the Courts (say that five times fast). At our prodding, Jeff had gamely agreed more than a decade ago to serve as a cover model for us. But this week Jeff also reminded me of another permutation of that cover, one that announced his son’s birth. (That was way back in 2001; Nathan is 12 years old now!)

In my haste, I completely forgot to locate that image and share it. But Jeff was generous once again, so here it is. In this post, you get to see the one and only payment Jeff ever received for being a patient and good-humored magazine model.

First, here is the cover we ran with:

Jeff Schrade, that handsome devil, graced the April 2001 cover of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Jeff Schrade on our April 2001 Arizona Attorney Magazine cover … .

And here is the altered cover announcing his son’s birth (now displayed in Jeff’s office):

Jeff Schrade baby born cover v2

… and a new cover is born.

Advancing age being what it is, I cannot recall exactly how we developed that cover. Someone with skills way beyond mine had to have done the work. The best Jeff and I can recall, Matt Silverman, the Bar’s former communications head, probably had his finger in the mix. Not to mention our former Art Director, Carl Bezuidenhout, and then-Production Manager (now lawyer) Leslie Ross.

In any case, enjoy your weekend. And know that assistance to a magazine editor may yield great rewards!

This week I heard great news about some of my favorite people: Arizona Attorney Magazine authors.

Besides that admirable distinction, these two men are pretty remarkable in their own right. Paul Julien and Mark Meltzer both serve the Arizona justice system via their substantial positions at the Supreme Court.

Jeff Schrade (left) and Justice Scott Bales (right) present framed Arizona Attorney articles to lawyer-authors Paul Julien (center-left) and Mark Maltzer, April 2013.

Jeff Schrade (left) and Justice Scott Bales (right) present framed Arizona Attorney articles to lawyer-authors Paul Julien (center-left) and Mark Meltzer, April 2013.

As their humble and succinct bios say: “Paul Julien is the Judicial Education Officer for the Arizona Supreme Court, and was chair of the committee mentioned charged with reviewing and proposing changes to the Justice Court rules. Mark Meltzer is a specialist with the Administrative Office of the Courts, and served as committee staff.”

The news came my way from Jeff Schrade, once a colleague at the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education, and now the Director of the Education Services Division at the Arizona Supreme Court AOC.

Jeff sent the accompanying photo and news about an event at which Court staff recognized the two men for their publication in Arizona Attorney. (I think that should be a tradition at every workplace!) The article they wrote for us provided valuable and timely information about changed rules applying to the much-misunderstood Justice Courts.

You can read the complete article here.

Justice Court Rules Julien Meltzer cropped

The opening to Paul and Mark’s Justice Court rules story, Jan. 2013.

Here is a bit about the award, in Jeff’s own words:

“Today I gave Paul Julien and Mark Meltzer framed copies of their Jan 2013 Arizona Attorney article about the Justice Court Civil Rules of Procedure. Vice Chief Justice Scott Bales made a special presentation to Paul and Mark at the conclusion of our Limited Jurisdiction New Judge Orientation, which took place this week at the Arizona Supreme Court Judicial Education Center in downtown.”

“The 20 new Limited Jurisdiction judges attending this three-week program gave Paul and Mark a standing ovation, recognizing not only their excellence on this particular project, but their daily efforts to train and provide assistance to limited jurisdiction judges across the state.”

“As you know, Mark and Paul not only wrote about the new rules in the Arizona Attorney, but they lead a committee with a wide representation of justice stakeholders through lengthy process to rewrite the rules. It was an extraordinary effort that produced more accessible and understandable rules, especially for the many pro se litigants appearing before justice courts.”

Jeff Schrade, that handsome devil, graced the April 2001 cover of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Jeff Schrade, that handsome devil, graced the April 2001 cover of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

The Court’s recognition is well deserved, but that January article is just the tip of the service iceberg for Paul and Mark. They have helped the state and the Court in countless ways. And here at the magazine, their involvement has gone beyond writing (as Mark also did in our March 2013 issue). They are both go-to people whom I count on for advice and insight on so many topics. Every editor I know has a kitchen cabinet, and I’m pleased to say these two men are reliable and wise members of mine.

A side note: Jeff Schrade, too, has been a part of the Arizona Attorney family, in a very personal way. Way back in our April 2001 issue, when I had helmed the magazine for just three months, we wanted to provide a great visual to front our deep coverage of lawyer marketing and advertising.

Always a great sport, Jeff donned a sandwich board and stood on First Avenue in downtown Phoenix for at least an hour while the photographer, art director and I all helped shepherd passersby around the generous photo-model.

(There were other heroes that day: Two Bar colleagues—Bonnie Lebeck and Natalie Burns— also assisted, by striding past quickly, over and over—backwards!to provide the necessary blur.)

Adding to the surreality experienced by commuters that morning was the fact that the sandwich board was blank; we would add the desired words to the image of the board at a later design stage. What a mensch!

Jeff recently told me, “For the record, I still proudly display the special cover you made for me welcoming the birth of my son Nathan (who is 12 now) back in 2001!”

We like the cover quite a bit ourselves!

Congratulations again to Mark Meltzer and Paul Julien. Here’s looking to years more collaboration!