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Chief Justice Abrahamson honored for promoting independent judiciary

Madison, Wisconsin - May 12, 2009

Chief Justice Shirley AbrahamsonWisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson has won the Harry L. Carrico Award for Judicial Innovation in recognition of her efforts to increase public understanding of the importance of an independent judiciary.

The award was presented May 8 by Margaret H. Marshall, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court during the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Conference on Fair and Impartial Courts in Charlotte, N.C. Marshall also is chair of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), which collaborated with the ABA in presenting the conference.

Chief Justice Abrahamson was selected because "she has earned a reputation for being fair, thoughtful, and forward thinking," said NCSC President Mary C. McQueen.

"Chief Justice Abrahamson’s work in the area of increasing the public’s understanding of the importance of an independent judiciary has served as a national model. She is a leader in the court community for her ongoing contributions to making the justice system more efficient and transparent," McQueen said.

The award is named after retired Virginia Chief Justice Harry L. Carrico, who was instrumental in founding the National Center for State Courts in 1971. Chief Justice Carrico served on the National Center’s Board of Directors from 1987 to 1990, serving as chair from 1989-1990. The award — created in 2003 when Chief Justice Carrico retired — was established to honor a sitting state court chief justice or justice who has inspired, sponsored, promoted, or led an innovation of national significance in the field of judicial administration.

Abrahamson is recognized as a national leader in state courts issues, such as protecting judicial independence, improving inter-branch relations, and expanding outreach to the public. She was the first woman appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1976 and has served as Chief Justice since 1996. In 2004 she served as president on the Conference of Chief Justices and Chair of the National Center for State Courts Board of Directors.

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit court reform organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. The National Center, founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, provides education, training, and technology, management, and research services to the nation's state courts.

Tom Sheehan
Court Information Officer
(608) 261-6640

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