Commission on Human Rights
Human Rights director today gets national judges award for state Color of Justice program working with minority students
LAS VEGAS – The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights (KCHR) executive director today became the 2006 recipient of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) Mattie Belle Davis Award.
Linda Strite Murnane received the award at the NAWJ 28th annual conference being held this week in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Rio All-Suites Hotel. Each year, the association presents the Mattie Belle Davis Award to a member for demonstrating growing leadership in the organization.
Executive Director Murnane, who retired a full Colonel and a chief circuit judge from the U.S. Air Force in 2004, began her service with the KCHR in January 2005. One of the first innovations she implemented at the state human rights agency was a partnership with the NAWJ, which helped fund a multi-project program called the Color of Justice.
For the past year, the KCHR has been holding this program for middle and high school students of all minorities, young people who are interested in becoming lawyers and judges, and some students who have been discovered by Color of Justice faculty to believe careers like these might be beyond their grasps.
The one day program brings in minority Kentucky lawyers, judges, law professors and law students to talk to the Color of Justice students and to mentor them one-on-one and in small groups, at no charge. The professionals inspire the young people, offer them hope, and provide them with attainable goals.
On November 13th, with the Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) College of Justice and Safety in the lead, KCHR will assist in bringing a newly-invented version of the NAWJ program. The program is tailored by the EKU College of Justice and Safety Dean, Allen Ault, his faculty, and the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights to meet the needs of the university. The Color of Justice and Safety Day will pull in regional minority high school students interested in careers in criminal justice and law enforcement, corrections and juvenile justice, fire and safety, emergency medical care, and assets protection and security. For more information on this upcoming program contact EKU Marketing Specialist Elizabeth Ballou at 859.622.8325 or KCHR Public Information Officer Victoria Dempsey at 1.800.292.5566.
The National Association of Women Judges was established in 1979. It offers professional and personal support to enable its members to achieve their full potential on the bench. The NAWJ includes appellate, trial, tribal, administrative law judges, state and federal judges, and has members from every state in the nation.
Mattie Belle Edwards Davis was a founding and active member of the NAWJ. She was one of the few senior women judges in 1979. In 1987, Davis was recognized by the Fellows of the American Bar Association as the first woman to reach 50 years of membership in the American Bar Association.
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is the state government agency that enforces The Kentucky Civil Rights Act and the policies of federal civil rights laws. It receives initiates, investigates, conciliates and rules upon jurisdictional discrimination complaints.
The Kentucky Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, employment, housing, and financial transactions on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, and sex. Discrimination is further prohibited on the basis of familial status in housing, the basis of age (40 or over) in employment, and the basis of a person’s tobacco-smoking status in employment. Complaints not dismissed, settled or conciliated go to administrative hearing where commission decisions have the authority of a court of law.
The agency is mandated under KRS 344 to perform education and outreach in order to promote compliance to civil rights laws and to promote equality in order to protect the public security and help keep the public peace.