American Judges Association (AJA) was initially founded as the National Association of Municipal Judges (NAMJ) in 1959 at Colorado Springs, Colorado, with 30 municipal court judges. Further, the NAMJ expanded its membership by including judges from other types of courts and from a wider geographical area. In 1973, NAMJ changed its name as the American Judges Association.
The AJA has certain objective and purpose, such as: to promote and improve the effective administration of justice; to maintain the status and independence of the judiciary; to provide a forum for the continuing education of its members and the general public; and for the exchange of new ideas among all judges. The measures of AJA for judicial education have been effective in a number of ways. In 1970, the AJA cooperated with the American Judicature Society in organizing the American Academy of Judicial Education in residence training programs for judges of courts of first jurisdiction. AJA has supported more than 30 annual conferences, bringing together leading jurists, legal scholars and law enforcement officers to discuss matters of importance affecting the judiciary. AJA has fifty years of service and commitment to the judiciary and continues to represent distinction in judicial education.
At present, AJA has more than 3,000 members, which includes both present and former judges of courts of all jurisdictions in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and The Virgin Islands. AJA has Ordinary Memberships, Honorary Memberships and Founding Memberships. AJA provides the benefits to its members such as:
- Court Security – security tips and suggestions for judges and their families.
- Handling the Media – ideas and suggestions on how to respond to media inquiries.
- Distance Learning – selected articles and essays on topics of interest to the judiciary, in a unique format combining both reading and interactivity.
- National Affairs Briefing – continual monitoring of Congressional and Federal executive agency activities that impact state court operations.
- Promising Practices – court projects that are working for other communities that you can replicate and use in your own court.
- Association Activities – ideas and issues currently under discussion by AJA committees and board members.
- Archives – historical references, including minutes, which chronicle AJA activities and discussions over the years.
- Web Board Conference Rooms and e-Discussions – allows the colleagues of members on the Members Only side of the site and engage in posting comments, reading replies, and networking with other Member Judges on various topics of interest.
Moreover, AJA provides the American Gavel Award for distinguished reporting about the Judiciary. This award was created in 2009 to recognize the highest standards of reporting about courts and the justice system. The award identifies legal journalism at its best, and highlights the significance of journalism in educating the public about the legal system and the fundamental principles and values upon which that system is based. These awards are presented in national and regional levels.
AJA conducts an annual essay competition for all full-time law students enrolled in and attending an accredited law school in the U.S. or Canada. The first prize for the contest is $3,000; second is $1,500; and third is $1,000. First, second, and third place winners and their law schools will be presented with an award certificate. The winning essay will be published in AJA’s journal, Court Review.
American Judges Association
300 Newport Avenue
Williamsburg, VA 23185-4147
Tel: (757) 259-1841
Fax: (757) 259-1520