May 24, 2016 — The National Center for State Courts is honoring University of Houston Law Center Research Professor Allison N. Winnike with its 2016 Distinguished Service Award for her public health emergency preparedness legal writing and community outreach.
The Distinguished Service Award, one of the highest awards presented by the organization, is presented annually to those who have made significant contributions to the justice system and who have supported the mission of NCSC.
"It is truly an honor to be recognized by the National Center for State Courts for my work on public health emergency preparedness law" Winnike said. "I am overwhelmed to learn that my scholarship and outreach efforts on the legal aspects of public health infectious disease control have made such a significant positive impact on our judicial system."
Winnike, research director of the Health Law & Policy Institute at the Law Center, was cited for her work on "Preparing for a Pandemic: An Emergency Response Benchbook and Operational Guidebook for State Court Judges and Administrators," authored as a member of the Conference of Chief Justices Pandemic and Emergency Response Task Force.
In addition to publishing "Preparing for a Pandemic" with the task force in March 2016, Winnike also published in April 2016 an updated version of "Control Measures and Public Health Emergencies: A Texas Bench Book," which is widely cited as the most comprehensive and current public health bench book in the nation.
NCSC President Mary McQueen said Winnike's work has drawn praise from judges across the country as well as abroad. "Not only have you given your support to your home state, you have made a tremendous difference in state courts nationally," she wrote while informing Winnike of the award.
"She has become a valued partner to NCSC, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators," McQueen said. "She continues to collaborate with these national leaders as they consider the next pandemic attack from Zika Virus. Because of her tireless efforts they will be prepared."
In addition to her work on public health emergency bench books, Winnike frequently delivers lectures on public health emergency legal issues to elected officials, public health and health care leaders, emergency management, first responders, and other stakeholders.
"I feel passionate about explaining public health law issues such as quarantine, isolation, and mosquito nuisance abatement to those on the front lines of a public health emergency," said Winnike.
"Judges need to be equipped with pertinent legal remedies during a public health outbreak or emergency, and public health officials need to feel comfortable navigating the judicial system during such an event, whether it be Ebola, Zika, or the next emerging infectious disease. My work on the public health emergency bench books aims to strike that balance to serve as a guide to both judges and health officials."
Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and State Court Administrator David Slayton offered their congratulations and plan an awards ceremony at a later date.
The NCSC is an independent, nonprofit court improvement organization that serves as a clearinghouse for research information and comparative data to support improvement in judicial administration of state courts.