March President’s Page

President’s Letter, March 2020

Greetings, my fellow adjudicators. I hope this finds you all well.

It’s nigh unto March, and a few, but not all, of my New Year’s resolutions lie crumpled and withered on the floor, like so much flotsam. How could this have happened? I thought I had considered well, had identified areas where I could improve, had identified appropriate corrective action, and had the requisite willpower to succeed. What has gone wrong?

The answer is simple: The broken resolutions were simply not priorities. As to them, I lacked the commitment to succeed. I allowed human frailty to intercede. Somehow, at 5:30 a.m., virtually anything is more attractive than climbing onto the elliptical exercise machine. I confess: I am old, weak, a wuss, a failure, and an embarrassment to humankind. As a consequence of my weakness, I have not achieved a secondary and more consequential goal of losing twenty pounds. Woe is me.

The good news is that all is not yet lost. While I may have stumbled, I have not fallen, and I can still reassert my commitment to exercise and weight loss, and achieve the goals I have set. Optimism reigns supreme, and if I reprioritize, all the goals that I set for myself may still yet be attained. I can yet become the new Charles Atlas! (For the youngsters among the readership, Charles Atlas was a bodybuilder in the early 20th century who overcame being a “scrawny weakling” to become the most popular bodybuilder of his day. His exercise program spawned a popular advertising campaign that evoked the image of the underdog overcoming weakness and beating down the bully.)

The message? A positive mental attitude is a must. Don’t give up. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the challenges of the moment. We cannot always control our circumstances, particularly when confronted with problematic people, difficult cases, and an impossible workload. At the end of the day, you cannot control the input: the number of claims filed, the number of hearings to hold, the decisions that have to be written. What you can control is the output, the work that you accomplish. Do what you have to do, and do it to the best of your ability. Don’t be sidelined by obstacles and momentary setbacks. Take pride in your work, and it will show. You will persevere.

As you read this, you have likely heard of the weather related disaster that occurred earlier this week in Nashville and the surrounding cities in Tennessee.  Due to the devastation caused by the multiple tornados the 2020 Bootcamp for new judges was postponed due to power outages and the limited accommodations for the people of Nashville during this difficult time.  The NAWCJ will plan to reschedule this conference in the future and our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Tennessee.

While on the topic of judicial education, elsewhere in this edition of the Lex and Verum, the Hon. Wesley G. Marshall presents an article addressing some of the burdens and challenges of serving as an appellate judge. Novel facts, cases of first impression, and unusual procedural issues all complicate the functions of an appellate body focused on achieving justice, not just clearing the docket. Commissioner Marshall provides insights into the thought processes of appellate judges, and sparks hope and confidence that cases are given individual consideration on appeal, and not just arbitrarily stamped “affirmed,” “reversed,” or (the accursed) “remanded.” Thanks, Wes!

Later this month in New Orleans, on March 28, some of our members will be inducted into the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, an honorary society for workers’ compensation professionals. Shannon Bruno-Bishop (Louisiana), Doug Gott (Kentucky), and Linda Smith (Louisiana) will be NAWCJ’s newest inductees. The induction ceremony is a black tie affair at the New Orleans Westin Canal Street, with all of the formalities attendant to an achievement of such magnitude. Please extend to them congratulations on their successes and deserved recognition.

Now is the time to start thinking about NAWCJ’s “Judiciary College” at the Workers’ Compensation Institute’s Annual Conference, August 16-19, 2020 in Orlando, where personal and professional opportunities abound. The Judiciary College runs from Monday, August 17 to Wednesday, August 19, but on Sunday, August 16, WCI and NAWCJ host the E. Earle Zehmer Moot Court Competition. The E. Earle Zehmer Moot Court Competition, which is the only national moot court competition focusing on workers’ compensation issues, relies on actual workers’ compensation adjudicators to judge the competition, and invites your participation. Those who judge the E. Earle Zehmer Moot Court Competition are introduced to, and inspired by, some of the brightest legal minds in law school today. In the past, judges who came to Orlando for the Judiciary College and volunteered to serve as a Moot Court judge, had their Saturday night lodging in Orlando paid by WCI. If you’re interested in serving as a moot court judge for the E. Earle Zehmer Moot Court competition, please contact Ms. Amie DeGuzman at

While you’re making your travel plans, consider arriving on Friday, August 14, so you can participate in the Give Kids the World volunteer work day on Saturday, August 15. Elsewhere in this edition of the Lex and Verum, NAWCJ Judge Robert Dietz  explains the work day and his effort to secure as many NAWCJ volunteers as possible to participate in the work day. He and Past President Jennifer Hopens are coordinating NAWCJ’s participation in the work day. A discounted hotel rate for Friday night is available for those who volunteer, and an NAWCJ/GKTW t-shirt will be yours for the asking. You’ll be done in time Saturday to share libations pool-side, where you can revel in the satisfaction of having done a good deed. Join us in Orlando for the Give Kids the World work day on Saturday, August 15, 2020.

I have a sense I am droning on, so I’ll stand on the brakes and let you all get back to work. I leave you with this quote from Abraham Lincoln: “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” Use your one day wisely.


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