Judge Emily Miskel, of the 470th District Court in Collin County, will receive the National Center for State Courts 2020 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence.

The Rehnquist Award is the highest honor bestowed to a state judge by the National Center for State Courts. It honors a state court judge who demonstrates the outstanding qualities of judicial excellence, including integrity, fairness, open-mindedness, knowledge of the law, professional ethics, creativity, sound judgment, intellectual courage, and decisiveness.

“The National Center is honored to present the Rehnquist Award to an innovative state court judge who met the challenge of using technology to make jury trials a reality during the pandemic,” NCSC President Mary McQueen said in a press release. “Judge Miskel is not only a trailblazer in this area, but an extraordinary judge who has been recognized for her outstanding work on the bench.”

Miskel held the nation’s first fully remote hearing and first fully virtual bench trial during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then Texas’ judges have conducted more than 175,000 virtual hearings, many with the assistance of Miskel.

“In these historically challenging times, a few true leaders come to the fore. Judge Miskel is at the head and worthy of the award named in honor of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist,” Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht and Texas State Court Administrator David Slayton said in their nomination letter. “We think Chief Justice Rehnquist would be proud, as we are, of Judge Miskel’s outstanding qualities of judicial excellence demonstrated more powerfully over the past three months but also over her legal and judicial career.”

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will present Miskel with the award at an event later this year.