The State Bar of Michigan will present several major awards at its 69th Annual Meeting. The award recipients will be honored at a Distinguished Service Awards Banquet, Thursday, September 30, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Lansing Center ballroom.
The 2004 Champion of Justice Award will be presented to Hon. Terrance K. Boyle of Detroit, Sandra L. Bailiff Girard of Jackson, Richard C. Kupferschmidt of Kalamazoo, Michael V. Morgan of Troy, and Richard S. Victor of Bloomfield Hills. This award is given for integrity and adherence to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession and for professional accomplishments that benefit national, state, or local communities.
Hon. Terrance Boyle, who served as Judge of the Recorder's Court for the City of Detroit (1985-1999) is being honored for his role in bringing about important statutory reforms in the state and in the development of the Wayne County Prosecutor's office, where he has spent much of his career and currently serves as Deputy Chief, Appeals.
His career accomplishments include being the principal architect of proposed amendments to the Citizens Grand Jury Law enacted by the Michigan Legislature, improving the Wayne County Prosecutor's office and taking cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, playing a lead role in drafting and advocating for monumental reforms for the protection of rape victims, and participating in the Michigan Supreme Court-appointed Committee to Draft the Proposed Rules of Criminal Procedure, an eight-year undertaking. Judge Boyle was a founding member of the State Bar Criminal Law Section, and has served many organizations as a teacher and lecturer.
Sandra L. Bailiff Girard is recognized for her deep and often solitary commitment to Prison Legal Services of Michigan (PLSM) and her advocacy on behalf of the incarcerated. She has spent her professional life championing prisoners' entitlement to fundamental due process and human rights, and for nearly her whole legal career she has served PLSM, acting as its Executive Director for 20 years. In 1996, PSLM was appointed to represent Michigan prisoners in Cain v MDOC, which was settled in 2003 and addressed issues relating to prisoners' property rights, law library services, clothing provided, the prison mail system, and the administrative grievance process. Girard is the author of the Michigan Prison Sentences: A Guide for Defense Attorneys, published by the Michigan Appellate Assigned Council System, and has authored several other articles and publications. She is a founding member of the State Bar Prisons and Corrections Section, served as the Chair of the Criminal Law Section, and has served on several other related State Bar committees.
Richard Kupferschmidt, of Western Michigan Legal Services, has contributed greatly to the Kalamazoo community throughout his career as a legal aid attorney for the past 25 years.
In particular, he has shown a great commitment to poverty issues through domestic violence work and housing advocacy on behalf of the poor. He has been very active in the Kalamazoo County Bar Association, serving as president (1997-1998), and currently serving on its Board of Directors. He was a founder of the Pro Bono Legal Clinics in Kalamazoo and has served as an active and regular participant in the weekly clinics. Throughout his career, Kupferschmidt also served on several Kalamazoo District Court committees and the Kalamazoo County Homeless Advisory Council.
Michael V. Morgan, a solo practitioner, is being recognized for his leading role in the improvement of drunk driving defense and prosecution, and is considered an authority on the issue. He has been a committed educator through the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) and the State Bar, and has lectured extensively since 1976 on drinking and driving law, driver licensing, procedures, and practice. He has served as a moderator on all drunk driving seminars since 1987. Morgan co-authored ICLE's first two editions on drunk driving defense Drunk Driving Cases: A Manual for Michigan Lawyers (1979) and Defense of Drunk Driving Cases in Michigan (1981). He served as the editor of Michigan Drunk Driving Law and Practice (1999), and served as a contributor to the Michigan Basic Practice Handbook (2001). Morgan is also a former chair of the License Appeal Board of the Michigan Department of State.
Richard S. Victor of The Law Offices of Richard S. Victor, PLLC, is being honored for his dedication to the practice of family law and divorce, custody, and children's advocacy issues. Victor has been practicing family law exclusively since 1979 and is known for his commitment to grandparents' rights, receiving statewide and nationwide attention for his focus on complex divorce and custody matters. Victor has worked on many high-profile cases, and assisted Michigan legislators in drafting the state's most recent grandparent visitation legislation.
He is the founder of the non-profit Grandparents Rights Organization, which advocates for grandparents and educates state legislatures and courts on the need to protect the bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Victor has held positions in many organizations, and is an accomplished author and editor, writing for the Michigan Bar Journal, organizational newsletters and law-related newspapers, and serving on the Board of Editors for Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
The John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono Award, which recognizes commitment to pro bono issues, is being presented to Joseph W. Cunningham, a Partner in the Litigation Services Department at Plante and Moran, PLLC. Cunningham is being honored for his work on a project that helps legal aid attorneys prepare Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) for their clients, which enable divorcing parties to divide pensions and 401(K) accounts. Cunningham, who is also a certified Public Accountant (CPA), has concentrated his practice in tax, retirement benefit, and business valuation aspects of divorce for more than 20 years. He was the co-editor of the Michigan Family Law Sourcebook, is a frequent seminar lecturer, and has held several positions in the Oakland County Bar Association and the State Bar Family Law Section. He has chosen that the $2,000 award designation be split between the Women's Survival Center in Pontiac and the University of Detroit Mercy clinical law programs as a memorial to F. Philip Colista, an attorney who was committed to civil rights.
The Liberty Bell Award, given to one or more non-lawyers who have strengthened the effectiveness of the American system of freedom under law, will be presented to Saginaw K-9 police officers Joaquin and Cari Guerrero and their canine partners Rookie (now deceased) and Felony, who were also the recipients of the 2004 Saginaw County Liberty Bell Award.
Since 1998, the Guerreros have presented educational programs to more that 230,000 children and adults through Precinct 131, a non-profit organization founded by Joaquin and dedicated to educating youth about the dangers of tobacco, drugs, gangs and violence through puppet skits, songs, videos, literature and K-9 demonstrations.
There were no winners for the Roberts P. Hudson and Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Public Servant awards this year.