Mark Goodner sat down with Ryan Turner and Elizabeth Rozacky to discuss the upcoming “Fundamentals” Seminar.
MG: When I first started at TMCEC, I was able to attend what was the last Low Volume Seminar of 2008. After that, we kept the seminar in the archives so-to-speak for a dozen years. Thankfully, we brought it back in AY 2020. There have been some tweaks to the program. What has changed and what has stayed the same?
RKT: Well, of course, I guess the main thing is the name of the seminar. The focus is still on basic, yet important, tenets of constitutional criminal procedure. However, one of the things we learned from audience feedback is that while there is a need and an appreciation in courts that adjudicate a relatively low volume of cases for the seminars content, the seminar is not just for judges and clerks who work in such courts. Constitutional law is the glue that makes criminal procedure stick. Its importance is not limited to “low volume courts.”
ER: At its core, the program has always been a refresher on the fundamentals of constitutional law and how those concepts apply to municipal courts. Courts of all sizes can benefit from revisiting these concepts, so we’re excited to open up this opportunity to more participants.
MG: I remember it having a wonderful overview (with some specific diving in, as well) of the constitutional foundations that support so many of our practices in municipal court. In the past, it was geared toward non-attorney judges and clerks (hopefully with teams from the same city). I think this would be a wonderful program for a judge that has been through the New Judges program in the last handful of years. Who else would this program be perfect for?
RKT: Absolutely, I highly recommend this seminar for folks who recently attended either the New Judges or New Clerks Seminar. While the curriculum is intended for judges and clerks who have not attended law school and who are not lawyers, we have also had attorneys attend. They said it was a fun and fantastic way to take inventory of their understanding of fundamental constitutional issues in criminal law.
Similarly, I think this seminar offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for clerks and court administrators to develop a better understanding of how the constitution colors our procedures and practices.
ER: Ditto! I often hear from folks who feel they only started to understand their court after a year or two on the job (long after they finished the New Judges or New Clerks curriculums). This program is a great way to get back to basics and continue learning.
MG: I love the model that provides the same faculty over the entire 12 hours. It’s quite a team of Judge Robin Ramsay, Judge Gary Ellsworth, Ryan Turner, and Elizabeth Rozacky. Elizabeth and Ryan, what do you like about this format and how does it feel to be part of this special team?
ER: I love being on this team. There’s such a wide range of experience in the room with judges from small towns and big cities alike. But I’m always impressed by the amount of pure practical knowledge this faculty brings. Judges and clerks can come away from the course with fresh eyes and real tools to apply to their day-to-day court practice.
RKT: I love collaborating with Robin, Gary, and Beth. I also love the format. The teaching is collaborative and conversational. The instructional strategy is engaging. The course materials consist of a lot of interactive notes and wealth of research materials. I believe that judges, clerks, and court administrators who attend this particular seminar leave with a deeper appreciation of the law. We are so lucky to get to bring this event to Laredo and I hope court personnel throughout Texas, but particularly in South Texas will take advantage of this opportunity.
This is the last time it will be offered in South Texas and it is one of TMCEC’s best seminars. Don’t miss out.
The next Fundamentals program takes place on November 3-4, 2021 in Laredo. Space is still available for judges, clerks, and court administrators. To read more about the program, see the excerpt from the Fall Academic Bulletin below. Register today! Financial aid is available. If you have questions, call 800-252-3718.