Since 2010, Alan F. Pendleton, a district judge for Anoka County, Minn., has published the email newsletter “Minnesota Judicial Training Updates,” in which he provides short, easy-to-read articles about concepts every judge and attorney should understand. The emails were sent to some 85 percent of the state’s judges, as well as to many attorneys.
Over the summer, the Minnesota Supreme Court asked Judge Pendleton to create a training blog to serve as the official repository for these training updates. The idea was to create a blog that would serve as a “one-stop” resource library for judges and attorneys.
That idea is now a reality, with the recent launch of Pendleton Judicial Training Updates. It contains all of the past updates and all new updates. The updates are designed to provide concise judicial tips that every judge and attorney should know, usually in a question and answer format.
Judge Pendleton says that many of the updates are also of interest to law enforcement, court administration, guardians ad litem, and the general public.
By way of example, recent topics covered at the blog include:
- 10 issues judges should be prepared for in civil jury trials.
- What is an Alford plea and what procedure must the court follow before accepting it?
- 15 facts every judge should know about court-related violence.
In addition to these updates, the site includes other resources for judges and lawyers, such as:
- Links to major legal search engines, state statutes, court rules, the Minnesota and U.S. constitutions, sentencing guidelines, administrative rules and various training manuals.
- A restricted, judges-only section that contains judges’ bench books, civil and criminal jury instructions, Courtnet and SharePoint education portals, and more.
A table of contents lists every article, sorted by the year in which it was first published. Articles are also organized under a subject matter index.
I know of one other blog that is written from the perspective of providing tips and guidance to judges. It is the AJA Blog, the blog of the American Judges Association. Coincidentally, it too is written by a Minnesota judge, Kevin S. Burke, a trial judge in Minneapolis since 1984.
Judge Pendleton (and the Minnesota Supreme Court) should be commended for creating this blog and making these materials publicly available. In my opinion, it is not only judges who benefit from a resource such as this, but also the bar and the public. The more everyone understands the issues that judges face and deal with on a regular basis, the healthier will be the judicial system overall.
For more examples of judges who blog, see my earlier posts:
Are you a judge with a blog? Let me know and I’ll add it to my list.