The annual John Paul Stevens Lecture brings a distinguished jurist to Colorado Law to discuss judging and the state of the judiciary. United States Associate Justice John Paul Stevens delivered the inaugural lecture in September 2011. Since then, the lecture has been given by former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa Zak Yacoob (2020); U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (2019); Judge Carlos F. Lucero, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (2018); former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, New York Court of Appeals (2017); Justice Sonia Sotomayor (2016); Justice Antonin Scalia (2014); Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (2013), and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2012). The signature fireside chat format of the lecture presents an opportunity for law students, lawyers, and community members to hear about the jurists’ approach to the bench, career, legal philosophy, and law school advice. The lecture often attracts over 2,000 people to CU Boulder’s Macky Auditorium, and is streamed for a national audience.
Tenth annual John Paul Stevens Lecture featuring Judge Bernice Donald of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Judge Bernice Donald, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, delivered the University of Colorado Law School’s tenth annual John Paul Stevens Lecture at 5:30 p.m. MT on Tuesday, October 19 virtually and in-person. Judge Donald is an internationally recognized jurist, pioneer, and longtime advocate for justice throughout her illustrious career.
About the Speaker
THE HONORABLE BERNICE B. DONALD was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by President Barack Hussein Obama on December 1, 2010 and re- nominated in January 2011. She was confirmed 96-2 by the Senate on September 6, 2011. Prior to joining the Court of Appeals, Judge Donald served on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, where she was appointed by President William Jefferson Clinton in December 1995. Judge Donald served as Judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee from June 1988 to January 1996. She was the first African American women in the history of the United States to serve as a bankruptcy judge. In 1982, she was elected to the General Sessions Criminal Court becoming the first African American woman to serve as a judge in the history of the State of Tennessee.
Judge Donald received her law degree from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, where she later served as a member of the Alumni, Law Alumni, and University Foundation Boards of Directors and as an adjunct faculty member. She received a LLM from Duke University School of Law and an honorary Doctors in Law from Suffolk University. She frequently serves as faculty for the National Judicial College and the Federal Judicial Center (FJC), and she served as a member of the FJC’s Board of Directors from 2003 through 2007. Judge Donald currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Appellate Judges Education Institute. For the past several years, Judge Donald has served as faculty for the National Trial Advocacy program at the University of Virginia. On October 22, 2018, Judge Donald delivered the distinguished James Madison Lecture at the New York University School of Law. She has served as a Jurist in Residence at the Universities of Cincinnati, Washington, American, and Georgia Schools of Law.
In 1996, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist appointed Judge Donald to the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules, where she served for six years. In 2011, Chief Justice John G. Roberts appointed her to an indefinite term on the Judicial Branch Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States. On October 1, 2019, Chief Justice Roberts again appointed Judge Donald to serve on the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules, where she serves as Liaison to the Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules.
An internationally recognized legal scholar, Judge Donald has lectured and trained judges around the world for many years. Judge Donald has served as faculty for numerous international programs, including Romania, Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, Bosnia, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Russia, Egypt, Morocco, Thailand, Uganda, Kenya, Cambodia, Vietnam, The Philippines, and Armenia. In 2003, Judge Donald led a People to People delegation to Johannesburg, and Cape Town, South African and traveled to Zimbabwe to monitor the trial of a judge accused of judicial misconduct.
Judge Donald is an active and dedicated member to both the American Bar Association and the National Bar Association. She currently serves as the Chair of the National Bar Association’s Judicial Council Education Committee, and has received the Judicial Council’s President and Chair Awards, along with other special service awards.
Judge Donald has served as President of the National Association of Women Judges and the Association of Women Attorneys.
In June 2005, Judge Donald co-founded 4-Life, a skills training and enrichment program for students ages 6 to 15 designed to teach children to become positive productive citizens. In 2020, she was elected to serve as a member of the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s working group on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System.
Judge Donald has been the recipient of over 100 awards for professional, civic, and community activities, including the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Memphis, the Martin Luther King Community Service Award, and the Benjamin Hooks Award presented in 2002 by the Memphis Bar Foundation. In 2013, Judge Donald was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Judicature Society, and in August of 2013, she was featured in the Federal Lawyer Magazine. During the 2013 annual meeting of the National Bar Association, Judge Donald received the William H. Hastie Award. The Hastie Award is the Judicial Council’s highest award and is presented to recognize excellence in legal and judicial scholarship and demonstrated commitment to justice under the law. In 2013, Judge Donald also received the Difference Makers Award from the Solo, Small Firm & General Practice Division of the ABA, and the Pioneer Award from her fellow classmates at East Side High. Judge Donald received the Justice William Brennan Award by the University of Virginia in January of 2014, and the Pickering Award from the Senior Lawyers Division of the ABA in August 2014. In 2017, Judge Donald received the prestigious Margaret Brent Award from the ABA Commission on Women for her service to the profession. Most recently, Judge Donald received the 2019 Pillars of Excellence Award, designed to recognize attorneys who have made significant contributions to the practice of law in their civic and professional lives.
In 2020, the American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section successfully petitioned the ABA Board of Governors to create the “Judge Bernice B. Donald Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award.” Judge Donald was the inaugural recipient.
Also in 2020, the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Section presented Judge Donald with “The Lifetime Liberty Achievement Award.”
Previous Stevens Lecture Speakers
About the Speaker
Zak Yacoob, a former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from 1998 until 2013 and former anti-apartheid activist, delivered the ninth annual John Paul Stevens Lecture virtually at 12:00 p.m. MT on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Justice Yacoob is the first international justice to present the Stevens Lecture, which is free and open to the public. Justice Yacoob shared his thoughts on the role of the courts, social justice, and racial equality. His remarks and virtual fireside chat with Professor and Director of the White Center Professor Suzette Malveaux were followed by a Q&A with Colorado Law students.
Justice Yacoob, who has been blind from infancy, studied at the Arthur Blaxall School for the Blind in Durban, South Africa. He completed a law degree at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. While at the university and during his law practice, Justice Yacoob was a member of the African National Congress underground; participated in community organizations involved in anti-apartheid and community activities, including the United Democratic Front and the Detainees Parents’ Support Group; and engaged in activities aimed at protecting the rights of people with disabilities.
From 1973 until 1991, Justice Yacoob ran a significant and diverse commercial and general legal practice, while also engaging in community activities that included defending political prisoners charged for defying unjust apartheid laws, and challenging, on behalf of victims, detentions without trial, house arrest, and other restrictive decrees. He took silk in 1991, an honor in South Africa conferred by the president to advocates for exceptional skill, integrity, and leadership, and practiced as senior counsel until his appointment by Nelson Mandela to the Constitutional Court of South Africa in 1998.
Yacoob is well-known nationally and internationally for his contributions to the socioeconomic rights and jurisprudence of South Africa.
Watch the Recording:
Justice Kagan answered questions in a fireside chat format moderated by Provost Professor of Law and Director of the White Center Suzette Malveaux, followed by a question and answer session with questions from Colorado Law students.
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On Sept. 27, 2018, the Hon. Carlos F. Lucero, Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, delivered the seventh annual John Paul Stevens Lecture. Lucero’s talk, "A Constitutional Call to Arms and Reflections on a Judicial Career,” focused on contemporary challenges to the Constitution and the role of lawyers in supporting and defending the Constitution.
The lecture included a Q&A discussion with Suzette Malveaux, Provost Professor of Civil Rights Law and director of the White Center. Lucero also responded to questions from student leaders Leah Fugere (’20), president of the Christian Legal Society; Nicholas Monck (’19), president of the Student Bar Association; and Hannah Regan-Smith (‘19), editor-in-chief of the University of Colorado Law Review.
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The 2017 John Paul Stevens Lecture took place September 26 at the Carr Judicial Center in Denver. Former Chief Judge of the State of New York Jonathan Lippman spoke on “Changing the Dialogue on Access to Justice.”
On September 2, 2016, Justice Sonia Sotomayor visited Boulder and participated in a Q&A conversation with more than 1,500 participants for the fifth annual Stevens Lecture. The audience included students, faculty and community members from the metro area. Additionally, high school students traveled to Boulder from all over Colorado to meet with Justice Sotomayor and attend the event.
The fourth annual Stevens Lecture was given by Senior Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on October 1, 2014, and discussed constitutional interpretation. More than 1,500 people attended the live lecture at Macky Auditorium, and nearly 400 people watched the live stream of the lecture at University of Wyoming Law School, William & Mary Law School, Colorado College, Fort Lewis College, Western State Colorado University, Ridgway High School, and inside the Wittemyer Courtroom at the University of Colorado Law School.
Former Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor delivered the third annual Stevens Lecture on September 17, 2013. Nearly 1,000 people watched live, with additional satellite audiences in the Wolf Law building and colleges throughout Colorado.
The second annual Stevens Lecture was given by Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 19, 2012. Nearly 1,000 people watched the lecture live, while satellite audiences enjoyed the lecture from Wolf Law, Colorado College, Fort Lewis College, and Colorado Mesa University.