Juvenile and family courts celebrates 40 years on campus

1/15/2009 - By: Patrick McDonnell

The welfare of children and their families is an increasingly valuable asset to protect in a global society that is unquestionably growing more fast-paced and challenging.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, which is celebrating its 40th year on the University of Nevada, Reno campus this month, has played a key role in serving the needs of those who improve justice for young people and their parents. Now the organization will mark its fourth decade on campus with a dinner event from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Silver Legacy Resort and Casino’s downtown Reno Ballroom.

“Reno has been a wonderful location for us,” said Mary Mentaberry, the council’s executive director since October 2004. “It’s been a great place to bring judges, even though we conduct training all over the country.”

Mentaberry estimated the council provides training and technical assistance to about 25,000 professionals annually throughout the United States, including research on trends in juvenile detention, foster care, adoption and family violence. The council began operations through the work of a group of judges in 1937, moving to Reno from Chicago in 1969.

“We evaluate practice in the courtroom and help professionals in the juvenile and family court systems conduct strategic planning,” the 1970 Nevada graduate and onetime student worker at the NCJFCJ said. “Judges have actually left their seats during an educational setting and called their courts to talk about what they have learned.”

Council officials will honor the contributions of the University of Nevada, Reno, its president, Milton Glick, and Nevada State Sen. Bill Raggio. Emeritus University President Joe Crowley, who led the university from 1978 to 2000, is a Dinner Committee co-chair, along with Dickson Realty owner Nancy Fennell.

The University has maintained the council’s headquarters in the Continuing Education Building on North Virginia Street since 1990, when the organization moved from an office in the Judicial College Building.

“We have collaborated since the 1990s with the University’s Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies and the National Judicial College (also housed on campus since the 1960s) to educate judges participating in the master’s and doctorate in judicial studies programs,” Mentaberry said. Referring to additional partnerships with the University, she said, “We have hired four Ph.D.s from the Grant Sawyer Center, and have three working for us now. We’ve had numerous University grads on staff.”

Mentaberry also spoke highly of the contributions of Raggio, a state senator since 1972 and former Senate majority leader, whom Nevada athletic director emeritus and longtime Reno resident Dick Trachok has referred to as “a very good supporter of everything that’s good.”

“Senator Raggio has been tremendously supportive in working with the Nevada Legislature,” she said. “He was a district attorney, and he understands the dynamics of the juvenile delinquency system.”

Honorary co-chairs of the Dinner Committee include U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign, Rep. Dean Heller, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, Sparks Mayor Geno Martini and Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Jim Rogers.

Tickets are $80 and $750 for a table of 10. For more information, contact Sarah Grabowska at (775) 784-6711. Tickets may be purchased online at the preceding Web link.

Proceeds from live and silent auctions at the dinner will support administration and projects addressing court handling of child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency, domestic violence, and family law issues.


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