State Bar to Honor 2012 Award Winners at Sept. 19 Banquet in Grand Rapids


State Bar of Michigan members will gather at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 to honor the best in the legal profession. Twelve major SBM awards will be presented at a special banquet held in conjunction with the SBM Annual Meeting, which will take place Sept. 19-21.

Roberts P. Hudson Award

Frederick M. Baker Jr. set the record as the longest-serving chair of a State Bar committee. For 24 years, he oversaw the SBM Publications and Website Advisory Committee, providing 's website. When he finally stepped down, he was universally praised by his colleagues. "Fred's record of service is extraordinary," wrote Joseph Kimble in his nomination of Baker. "I hesitate to even guess how many volunteer hours he has spent for the State Bar, but after 24 years, it's in the hundreds, and probably the thousands . . . Throughout all these years and meetings and hours, Fred has been the consummate class act. He is a kind, generous, friendly, and funny man who makes everyone he deals with feel appreciated and liked." Baker said he spends so much time volunteering because it feels good. "That feeling of having come to the defense of someone who cannot defend themselves—that is a reward that no other profession delivers in greater abundance than the practice of law," Baker said.


Frederick M. Baker Jr.

Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Public Service Award

John M. Barr has served the people of Washtenaw County for 53 years, including 30 years as Ypsilanti city attorney, with an unparalleled dedication to principle and fairness. Despite his heavy workload, Barr never wavered from his commitment to justice and democracy, which has earned him a stellar reputation among his colleagues and the citizens he serves. "I found him to be thoughtful, respectful, and of the highest ethical character," said Cheryl Farmer, immediate past mayor of Ypsilanti, who noted that Barr encouraged her to restore the lost practice of beginning city council meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance as well as an opening prayer or moment of silence. Fellow attorney Dan Matson may have summed it up best when he said that Barr has a "quiet confidence" about him that has given rise to respect from his colleagues—a respect he has earned without seeking it.


John M. Barr

Hon. Willie G. Lipscomb Jr.'s desire to make things right, coupled with the shooting death of a teenager he knew, led the judge to develop and launch the 36th District Court's Handgun Intervention Program (HIP) in 1993. The program is aimed at young black males who are first or second-time offenders charged with carrying a concealed weapon and who have no other serious offenses pending. The program's goal is preventing these young men from committing gun violence or becoming victims of gun violence themselves. Hon. Cylenthia LaToye Miller, who nominated Judge Lipscomb for the award, said the program has made a "huge difference" in the lives of participants. She praised the judge for his "integrity, fairness, leadership, excellence, dedication to principle, and to the ideals of democracy through [this program] that he founded and now administers."


Hon. Willie G. Lipscomb

Champion of Justice Award

Kathleen L. Bogas has dedicated a large part of her career to fighting for the proper enactment of civil rights laws, including Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Based on feedback from her colleagues, she is excellent at it. "Most Michiganders have been enriched by her triumphs in the civil rights arena by having more opportunities in employment and education, better workplace environments where discrimination and harassment are no longer the norm, and a champion at the ready to make sure no one stands alone when their civil rights are violated," wrote Marla Linderman in her nomination. Over the past three decades, she has crisscrossed the country educating fellow attorneys and law students as a speaker, instructor, and mentor, which her colleagues said sets her apart. "We practice in the same area and geographic location and compete for business," wrote Darcie Brault in her nomination. Still, "she has provided guidance and direction to me and countless other professionals making our way."


Kathleen L. Bogas

Hon. Karen Fort Hood has devoted her life to serving children, first as a teacher, then as an assistant prosecutor, and eventually as a judge. She first served children as a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools and later as a special assistant prosecutor in the Wayne County Juvenile Court, prosecuting juvenile offender and abuse and neglect cases. "More than ever in our history, our youth face tremendous challenges and must have exceptional tools and resources to compete and excel," she said. "I have a duty to pass on the knowledge, opportunities, and many blessings that have been bestowed upon me." According to her fellow judges, she has done that. "She worked tirelessly to improve the administration of our court system," wrote Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly. "I believe she demonstrates superior professional competence. She is thoughtful and dedicated to the principled application of the law. Judge Hood is a role model in every way."


Hon. Karen Fort Hood


Frederick W. Lauck has devoted his career to speaking for those whose voices would otherwise go unheard. He has always worked diligently for the underdog. And his work in the courtroom has earned him the respect of judges. "He is constantly helping those in need," wrote Hon. Sean Cox in his nomination. "He is one of the very, very few lawyers who can get a not-guilty verdict in a murder-one case, a multimillion dollar verdict in a personal injury case, and successfully litigate a complex business case." He has also earned the undying admiration of his fellow attorneys, who have described him as a tireless advocate, a courtroom gladiator, St. George the dragon slayer, and a man to whom they would entrust their children's lives. Elmer L. Roller said Lauck's "unabashed and balanced sense of justice and inexhaustible zeal for the improvement of our profession has made him a true champion of justice and a role model for other members of our profession."


Frederick W. Lauck


"Talk to any lawyer who has ever worked with L. R. "Bud" Roegge and they will tell you he is a force like few others," wrote his nominators. "An exemplary leader, Bud Roegge has taught all of us that being a lawyer is more than a job. It is a calling with incredible responsibilities to the profession and the community. Those who have been fortunate enough to know him and to have learned the lessons he has taught them are forever the better for it." He is known by his colleagues in Grand Rapids and beyond as being one of the best attorneys in the state, and he has also tirelessly volunteered for decades on committees and task forces at the local, state, and national levels to effect meaningful changes in the civil justice system. His colleagues said that what truly sets him apart from other attorneys and leaders is his capacity for giving his time, knowledge, and inspiration to others.  

L. R. "Bud" Roegge


Thomas K. Thornburg, co-founder and co-managing attorney of Farmworker Legal Services of Michigan has worked tirelessly on behalf of Michigan's 90,000 migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Each summer, Thornburg and his employees pile into his worn, air-conditioner-less minivan and document the living and working conditions of migrant workers in an effort to improve their health and safety. In 2009, Thornburg led Michigan Department of Civil Rights and Michigan Civil Rights Commission employees and commissioners on a tour to witness migrant workers' living conditions and instituted a subsequent series of public forums for migrant workers to share firsthand testimony. "The conditions facing migrant and seasonal workers in Michigan would never have seen the light of day but for the dedicated staff of FLS and the leadership of Tom Thornburg," wrote George Wirth, retired MCRC director of hearings and mediation and legal counsel, in his nomination. Thanks to Thornburg's efforts the Michigan Department of Civil Rights released the Report on Migrant and Seasonal Farm-workers in 2010. The report garnered national attention and caused the Michigan legislature to pass a bill increasing funding for inspections of migrant housing.


Thomas K. Thornburg


John W. Reed Michigan Lawyer Legacy Award

Wayne State University Law School Professor Robert A. Sedler is a beloved professor and a larger-than-life constitutional scholar who has made an indelible mark in his field. Jules B. Olsman, who nominated Sedler, said "those individuals who were fortunate enough to have Professor Sedler as a teacher continue to talk about him like they were still in his class," adding that it would be an "understatement" to say Sedler has had a "positive impact on the law." Detroit attorney "the dean of constitutional lawyers in Michigan" and noting that "judicial waves part and legal continents move based on his years of study [and] his nearly infallible and insightful interpretation of constitutional law…The enemies of...civil liberties advance [a] counter-revolution by imperceptible gradations; nuanced changes in the law. Professor Sedler is there to call them out."


Professor Robert A. Sedler


John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono Award

Ann M. Ozog joined a convent of teaching nuns 61 years ago. While there she earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics with a dual minor in physics and chemistry from Madonna College, a master's degree in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame, and ultimately a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. All the while she fought for underpaid teachers and victims of domestic violence. After passing the bar in 1983, she devoted her legal career to working with Lakeshore Legal Aid before retiring in 2003. Since her retirement, Sister Ann has traveled more.


Ann M. Ozog


Kimberly M. Cahill Bar Leadership Award

The Oakland County Bar Association Pro Bono Mentor Match Program brought new lawyers and needy clients together by providing experienced attorneys as mentors to newer, less-experienced attorneys who volunteer to take pro bono cases. With the mentor's oversight and legal aid support, the protege is well-equipped to get his or her feet wet in the courtroom while providing help for those in need. In an article about the launch of the program, OCBA Past President Jennifer M. Grieco said the program is a win-win, and quoted then-Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly as saying that the program helps new lawyers broaden their experience while learning about integrity and service "so that we support a culture where pro bono is a regular part of "Former OCBA President Kurt Schnelz, who serves as a mentor, summed up the program, saying, "It warms your heart to see lawyers doing what they should be doing, which is helping other people."


OCBA Past President
Jennifer M. Grieco


Liberty Bell Award

Army National Guard Sgt. Major David Dunckel knows first-hand the struggles our soldiers face when they return from war. He is a decorated veteran who has served his country in the Army, Navy, and Michigan National Guard for more than 25 years. He served as a First Sergeant in Iraq, where he was responsible for bringing his men home safe. Today, Dunckel continues to serve his most afflicted men as a mentor for the Ingham County Veteran's Court, where he and East Lansing District Judge David Jordon work with veterans who have hit rock bottom and cannot seem to get back up. There, his heroic efforts have given many struggling soldiers a second chance, and many have made it all the way back. But, as in war, he's also seen some casualties, despite everyone's best efforts. Perhaps his most heroic effort, yet most tragic ending, involved veteran soldier Brad Eifert, who worked with Dunckel to pull himself together for two years, before he tragically gave in to his PTSD, and was found dead at a Lansing motel on Sept. 4, 2012. There was nothing anyone, including Dunckel could do to stop it. But Dunckel says that, although Brad's life met a sad and confusing end, the court's intervention is still a positive thing. "Although we may not win every battle, the loss of one like this hardens our resolve," he said. "Brad's life, and death, are a testament to the continual struggle our veterans face, the exact reason we need courts like Judge Jordon's." And the reason we need men like Sgt. Major Dunckel.


Sgt. Major David Dunckel