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Stephen Bransdorfer and Hon. Cynthia Stephens Win Bar's Prestigious Hudson Award

9/1/05

The State Bar of Michigan's highest and most prestigious honor, the Roberts P. Hudson award will be presented to a former president of the organization, Stephen C. Bransdorfer and to the Hon. Cynthia D. Stephens of the Third Circuit Court.

The Hudson award is presented for the "unselfish rendering of outstanding and unique service to and on behalf of the State Bar of Michigan, the legal profession and the public" and is awarded to the member who "best exemplifies that which brings honor, esteem and respect to the legal profession." Bransdorfer and Stephens will receive their awards on Friday, September 23rd during the Bar's 70th Annual Meeting in East Lansing.

Stephen Bransdorfer has practiced law for almost fifty years. His distinguished legal career included two tours in the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. The first stint included an assignment in Little Rock, Ark., during the school desegregation battle there. Bransdorfer was a Justice Department spokesman during the legal fight. He served as deputy assistant attorney general from 1989 to 1993 during George H.W. Bush's presidency. Prior to assuming that position, he was in private practice in Grand Rapids focusing on civil litigation. He was a zealous advocate for his clients and was regarded one of the best trial attorneys in the West Michigan area. His success rate in complicated litigation matters reflected his individual talent as well as his ability to achieve the necessary teamwork among his associates. In 1993, he formed a law firm with his sons and later served as a neutral facilitator and arbitrator until his retirement in September 2003.

Bransdorfer incorporated service to the profession early in his career serving and chairing the Young Lawyers Section in 1963–1964. Thirty years later, he chaired the Senior Lawyers Section. In between, among many other activities and responsibilities, he was a member of the Board of Commissioners from 1968 to 1975 and president of the Bar from 1974 to '75. Mr. Bransdorfer has been a much-respected mentor, teacher and role model for young lawyers with whom he worked. He shared his experience by active involvement and leadership with many groups and organizations.

The Honorable Cynthia D. Stephens currently serves as a judge of the Third Circuit Court in Detroit. Appointed to the court in 1985, she has served as its Chief Judge Pro Tempore and as chair of the Mediation Tribunal Association. Much of her time has been devoted to improving the quality of justice. She is acknowledged for her "deep vision and keen intelligence" and is an outstanding leader in the State Bar's efforts to promote the effective delivery of high quality legal services to all Michigan citizens.

Judge Stephens has been a member of the State Bar's Board of Commissioners for a total of 20 years. Through Supreme Court appointments she has served on task forces and commissions including: the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee; Prison Over-Crowding Commission; Race and Ethnic Bias Task Force. She has won numerous awards and is an officer in many legal organizations. She has written articles on subjects from jury selection to judicial selection and she is also a contributing author to a text used to train law enforcement officers. She was also instrumental in bringing the successful National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Legal System to Michigan in 2003 as a State Bar hosted national event. Her work to improve the justice system continues as she co-chairs the Standing Committee on Justice Initiatives. She is a special liaison to the Committees' Planning Workgroup, forging a three to five year strategic plan for the justice initiatives work at the Bar. Judge Stephens been instrumental in shaping justice initiatives at the Bar, and she has also generously participated in national gatherings to share Michigan's work in this area.

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