Circuit Court Judge Cindy Thyer of Jonesboro is the first female judge in Arkansas to graduate with a master’s degree in judicial studies, according to the National Judicial College. It partners with the University of Nevada, Reno, to bring together judges from around the world into the program.
The program focuses on issues facing a modern judiciary and covers the intersection between the law and economics, behavioral science, the media, and medicine. It also covers the history and theory of jurisprudence and courts and public policy.
“The program has greatly contributed to my growth as a judge and better equipped me in my day-to-day work as a trial judge,” Thyer said.
Shawn Marsh, the director of judicial studies and an associate professor at the University of Nevada at Reno, says about 25% of the program’s graduates have been women, though the current student makeup is about half women.
“Judge Thyer’s thesis, which focused on bail and pretrial reform, is not only an excellent piece of scholarship with implications for Arkansas but also a meaningful and timely addition to the larger field of judicial studies,” Marsh said.
In 1961, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark served on the Joint Committee for Effective Administration of Justice. Among the Committee’s recommendations was the need to create an entity to provide judicial education. That recommendation became a reality when, in 1963, the National Judicial College opened its doors to judges seeking further insight into their professions.