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Fair and Independent Courts: A Conference on Judicial Independence, Selection and Accountability.

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On April 4, the SMU Dedman School of Law welcomed Justice Stephen G. Breyer and retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as well as government, academic and business leaders from across the county when it hosted and sponsored a unique one-day conference that addressed the independence of the nation's courts.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Justice Stephen Breyer chaired the conference, "Fair and Independent Courts: A Conference on Judicial Independence, Selection and Accountability." This is the third conference held by the Justices with the first occurring September 2006 at Georgetown University Law Center.

Organizers convened the conference to promote discussion about judicial selection and independence and to develop recommendations to strengthen judicial autonomy and increase public confidence in the judiciary.  

Conference participants included:

  • Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice for the Supreme Court of the United States;
  • Sandra Day O’Connor, retired Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States;
  • John Attanasio, Former Dean and Professor of Law and William Hawley Atwell Chair of Constitutional Law
  • Lackland H. Bloom Jr., Professor of Law at the SMU Dedman School of Law;
  • Paul D. Carrington, Professor of Law at Duke law School;
  • William V. Dorsaneo, III, Chief Justice John and Lena Hickman Distinguished Faculty Fellow and Professor of Law at the SMU Dedman School of Law;
  • Linda S. Eads, Associate Professor of Law at the SMU Dedman School of Law;
  • Thomas C. Goldstein, Partner in Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld LLP;
  • Norman Greene, Partner at Schoeman, Updike & Kaufman, LLP;
  • Deborah G. Hankinson, former Justice of the Texas Supreme Court,  Chair of the  ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and partner of Law Office of Deborah G. Hankinson;
  • Wallace Jefferson, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court;
  • Jeffrey Kahn, Assistant Professor of Law at the SMU Dedman School of Law;
  • Carolyn Dineen King, Judge for the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit ;
  • Justice Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., Judge and former Chief Justice for the Supreme Court of Missouri;
  • Thomas R. Phillips, Partner at Baker Botts and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas;
  • Laura Denvir Stith, incoming Chief Justice on the Supreme Court of Missouri;
  • Linda Thomas, Chief Justice of Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals; and
  • Rose Villazor, Assistant Professor of Law at the SMU Dedman School of Law.

We are deeply grateful to the Carrington Lecture Fund and the William H. Rehnquist Center on the Constitutional Structures of Government at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law for sponsoring this conference.

Also read The Associated Press coverage of the event.