IJA International Judicial Academy

Director Detail

Hon Mary McGowan Davis


Acting Justice, Supreme Court of the State of New York (ret.)

Judge Davis served on the Supreme Court of the State of New York from 1986 until her retirement in 1998. She has been involved in a variety of matters relating to transitional justice and human rights law since her retirement from the bench.

Recently, these activities have included mentoring lawyers at the Center for Human Rights and Development in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, under the auspices of the International Senior Lawyers' Project (May-July, 2007), where she worked on issues related to anti-human trafficking and environmental rights and conducted training sessions for judges.

She also conducted trainings for judges and prosecutors in Mongolia in 2008 in conjunction with The Asia Foundation's Trafficking in Persons Initiative. She traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan in December, 2007 to join in training sessions for judges and women's rights activists on international and constitutional law organized by the Global Justice Center, which followed up on earlier trainings in 2006 for the judges of the Iraq High Tribunal on gender justice and international law.

For much of 2004-2005, Judge Davis worked in Afghanistan's first full-service public defender office, where she mentored Afghan lawyers representing detainees in the local prisons and endeavored to hone their analytical and trial advocacy skills. Additionally, she has been a frequent visitor to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (2000-7) and the International Criminal Court (2008-9), as a consultant and as a participant in trial advocacy training programs for prosecutors and judges.

Judge Davis maintained an association with Legal Momentum - Advancing Women's Rights (formerly the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund) as a Senior Visiting Attorney in the New York office, working on issues related to gender-based violence from 1999 until her move to Paris in 2006.

Judge Davis has twenty-five years experience in the criminal justice arena in New York City, most recently as a trial judge trying felony cases in Manhattan's busy Supreme Court. Before her appointment to the bench in 1986, she worked as a Staff Attorney at the Criminal Appeals Bureau of the Legal Aid Society (1974-7) and spent eight years as an Assistant U. S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York (1978-86).

A graduate of Wellesley College (1967), Judge Davis was a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal before obtaining M. A. (1970) and J. D. degrees (1974) from Columbia University. She recently joined the International and Comparative Law Programs Advisory Board of the Vermont Law School and is a member of the Advisory Council of the War Crimes Research Office of the Washington College of Law.

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