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he Texas Center for the

Judiciary is a remarkable

association.With approxi-

mately 1200 members,

hundreds of additional non-mem-

ber constituents served, and annual

revenue just short of $5 million, it is

a power-house of judicial education

resources. Of the 50 states in the

US, approximately 30 provide judi-

cial education separate from legal

education. And, approximately 15

states mandate judicial education.

Texas has both provided and man-

dated judicial education for decades.

TCJ is funded primarily by large

grants, three federal and one state.

The three federal grants target edu-

cation regarding three distinct areas:

child abuse, foster care, and impaired

driving. Our state grant, appropriat-

ed by the legislature and channeled

through the Court of Criminal Ap-

peals, provides the majority of our

funding and is used to provide judi-

cial education on all relevant topics.

The TCJ is set up as a 501(c)(3)

non-profit corporation. This is, as

far as I’ve been able to learn, unique

in the US. Being close to, but not

actually part of, state government,

allows TCJ to operate in a nimble,

flexible, constantly relevant, and

overall effective manner.

In addition to its grant-funded

programs and other educational

operations, TCJ conducts the An-

nual Judicial Conference, which is

funded by the Administrative Judi-

cial Regions. And, when other insti-

tutions have asked TCJ to develop

and conduct educational events

outside of grant funds, the Court

of Criminal Appeals has generously

provided additional funds.

The generosity of our judges, both

with voluntary registration fees and

individual contributions, allow TCJ

to fund needs that fall outside of

our grant limits. Funds so collected

are maintained as cash reserves

and ensure the ability of the TCJ to

continue operations during any pe-

riod of short term absence of other

funds. Use of these funds is over-

seen by theTCJ Board of Directors.

Effective practices of non-profit

associations include, as a top prior-

ity, continually researching, updating

and maintaining technologies need-

ed to deliver services to members.

Our new database, purchased with

a combination of an award from the

CCA and a TCJ Board of Director-

approved expenditure of cash re-

serves, has kept TCJ at the forefront

of this area. The database, which

should serve TCJ needs for decades,

is essential to most everything TCJ

does, from operation of the website,

generally, and judges’ conference

registration and hours-tracking, spe-

cifically, to the delivery of

In Cham-


, conducting of surveys, storing

of TCJ records, and more.

As I’ve had the opportunity to

become acquainted with judicial

education scenarios in other states,

I have developed an even great-

er appreciation for how good

we judges in Texas have

it. The generosity of our

funders, state, federal and

individual, allows TCJ to

bring judges together for

frequent, relevant, face-to-

face educational oppor-

tunities. The TCJ Board,

Curriculum Committee,

staff and membership all

make this possible.

A director of judicial education

from a large and populous state

phoned to ask about how Texas

judges were educated. When I

mentioned that our judges enjoy

attending conferences where they

can meet face-to-face, the person

responded, “You are very lucky; we

would never have the funds to bring

our judges together face-to-face.”

Texas provides, in my opinion, the

best judicial education in the Unit-

ed States.

Judge Mark D.Atkinson, CEO


ARemarkable Institution