Law Day Awards 2020

We are proud to announce our award winners for Law Day in 2020!

LIBERTY BELL AWARD

The purpose of the Liberty Bell Award is to recognize community service that has strengthened the American system of freedom under the law, and to accord public recognition for outstanding service in one of the following areas:

1. Promoting a better understanding of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights;
2. Encourage a greater respect for law and the courts;
3. Stimulate a deeper sense of individual responsibility so that citizens recognize their duties as well as their rights;
4. Contribute to the effective functioning of our institutions of government; and
5. Foster a better understanding and appreciation of the rule of law.

ELIGIBILITY: Any individual who has rendered outstanding service to his or her community in any of the areas mentioned above may be considered eligible. All fields of endeavor are intended for inclusion.

Hon Kevin Carter

Hon. Kevin M. Carter and Hon. Brenda M. Freedman

Erie County Family Court

Hon. Kevin M. Carter and Hon. Brenda M. Freedman have accomplishments in our courts and our community too numerous to mention in detail here. Each is dedicated to Western New York and passionate about their work. They live out every day their commitment to the rule of law and their compassion for our children. Today, we celebrate one aspect of their community service, one that has strengthened our system of justice. We offer this Liberty Bell award to these judges together for their efforts in implementing the new Raise the Age legislation. Insightful about the policies impacting young offenders and conversant with the legislative history, the new law and the underlying studies about brain development, rehabilitation and consequences, these judges educated others in the legal field, coordinated logistics and introduced this new system to the Western New York community seamlessly. Colleagues and community members alike have praised them for their efforts, and their ‘authentic understanding’ of the struggles of our youth> We are proud to recognize their efforts on Law Day.

SPECIAL SERVICE AWARD

PURPOSE: To recognize outstanding service to the legal profession thus strengthening the effective function of the legal profession, our institutions of government and the judicial system. The criteria include the following:

CRITERIA: The award will recognize service to the legal profession. Such service would include:

1. Courteous treatment of members of the legal profession;
2. Efficient handling of duties;
3. Cooperation with members of the legal profession; and
4. Willingness to extend himself/herself for the good of the legal profession and the public.

ELIGIBILITY: Any person who is not a lawyer who is connected with the courts or other governmental department or agency including administrative bodies.

Alicia M. Tabliago

Resource Coordinator, Buffalo Human Trafficking Intervention Court

Alicia M. Tabliago has been the Resource Coordinator for the Buffalo Human Trafficking Intervention Court (HTIC) since its creation in 2013. Her duties include, but are not limited to: screening individuals referred to the court and creating an individualized treatment plan for each; identifying and securing support resources for victims; assisting in obtaining grants; and educating the courts, police and public at large of the work of the HTIC. Ms. Tabliago has been instrumental in helping victims of human trafficking find jobs, secure housing, obtain orders of protection, receive drug rehabilitation, and attain numerous other opportunities as they escape the horrors of being trafficked. The many letters in support of her nomination tell of Ms. Tabliago’s alacrity to work collaboratively with everyone she encounters to assist not only the individual victims, but also to improve our system of justice. She has the reputation of going above and beyond her duties to help those most in need. Further, she has helped the judges and the attorneys who practice in the HTIC by participating in giving statewide training, developing a screening tool used by the court, and, most recently, taking the lead on the court’s successful effort to obtain a $500,000 federal government grant. Ms. Tabliago’s willingness to extend herself for the good of the legal profession, courteous treatment of all, outstanding dedication to the HTIC and the victims who come before that Court make her very deserving of this award.

POLICE OFFICER AWARD

Nominations for this award go first to the Criminal Law Committee which then makes a recommendation to the Awards Committee. The purpose of this award is to recognize law enforcement service which strengthens the effectiveness of the American system of justice and freedom. The award is given to recognize outstanding law enforcement service in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution which imposes upon police officers the unique duty to balance the rights of society against the rights of the accused. Among the activities, achievements and qualities to be considered are the following:

1. Conduct which demonstrates an understanding of the Constitution and, especially, the Bill of Rights;
2. Conduct which encourages respect for the law and the rule of law;
3. Conduct which promotes and contributes to a better understanding of, respect for, and effective functioning of the judicial process;
4. Cooperation with the legal community; and
5. Conduct which demonstrates a concern for society and appreciation for the dignity of all persons.

DJ Granville

Chief D.J. Granville

Detective, Erie County Sheriff’s Office

Chief D.J. Granville has been selected to receive this award in recognition of his exemplary 21-year career. He has earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues, prosecutors, judges and defense bar for his professionalism and ethics. The detective’s work with the FBI Career Criminal Task Force resulted in the dismantling of numerous gangs and drug trafficking organizations in the city of Buffalo. In his position as chief of the narcotics unit, Chief Granville’s stewardship resulted in the seizure of millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl. He has brought, and continues to bring, dignity to the law enforcement profession. He is a credit not only to law enforcement, but also to the legal system as a whole.  This Association is pleased to acknowledge publicly Detective Granville’s exceptional service.

JUSTICE AWARD

The Justice Award, to be presented from time to time, to an individual, lawyer or nonlawyer, whose efforts have substantially contributed to the improvement of the justice system.

Aimee L. Neri, LMSW

Senior Liaison, New York State Child Welfare Court Improvement Project

Aimee Neri, LMSW, has dedicated much of her career to improving our system of justice through improved practices in Family Court and has worked, as one judge noted, “to make Family Court more inclusive, more equitable and more responsive to trauma affecting litigants.” 

Ms. Neri’s work with the Child Welfare Court Improvement Project has improved outcomes for youth in foster care. She has done this through her deliberate, careful efforts to improve communication amongst systems. She allows colleagues to honestly appraise the history of policies and practices in child welfare that have impacted our most vulnerable population, children. 

Ms. Neri has also been a lead facilitator for many of the committees that work to improve other practices in the family court. And when the Bar Association needed assistance with planning around diversity and inclusion efforts, she donated her personal time to assist with that project. 

Ruthless with a flip chart or a post it wall, Ms. Neri’s true gift is the ability to educate with patience, kindness and a true belief in the possibility and promise of change. 

MEDIA AWARD

This award is presented to recognize achievements in print and electronic media and products in media and the arts which strengthen our system of justice and the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution.

Margaret Sullivan

Margaret M. Sullivan

Media Columnist, The Washington Post

We are pleased to present this award to Margaret Sullivan, who worked tirelessly as the Editor in Chief of the Buffalo News for many years before moving on to become the Public Editor at the New York Times. Margaret was the first female editor at the Buffalo News, a modernizer and visionary, much like the advocates for the 19th amendment that we celebrate today.

Today Margaret Sullivan is the Media Columnist for the Washington Post. She describes her current work as writing “about the news media, press rights and the digital transformation of the culture.”

Margaret’s work and reporting has often focused on the candid assessment of journalism itself. She has analyzed and sometimes critiqued the way the media interacts with our systems, including our justice system and the way reporters and their subjects are sometimes treated in return. No system suffers from honest evaluation done by someone with the integrity and insight Margaret has brought to her many years and many roles in media.

Our system of justice is designed to be open and transparent. In fact, one of the many challenges we face in these current times is the need to balance the business of the courts and need for open courtrooms with complicated scientific realities and the social distancing required by our current public health crisis.

We look forward to Margaret’s ongoing insights on the digital transformation of our culture – a change we are rapidly living through in ways we could not have imagined even a few months ago. 

But right now we take a moment and celebrate all of her work which has strengthened our system of justice and the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution.

REV. A. JOSEPH BISSONETTE PRO BONO AWARD

This award honors the memory of Father Bissonette, who received the Liberty Bell Award posthumously in 1987. Created through the generosity of Raymond Bissonette, Father Bissonette’s brother, the award recognizes and memorializes Father Bissonette’s life’s work with the inner city poor and his commitment to social justice. Therefore, this award recognizes a lawyer’s dedication to pro bono over the course of their career. The award included a $1,000 stipend.

PURPOSE: To recognize an attorney who has demonstrated exemplary pro bono services. CANDIDATE SELECTION: Nominations shall be requested by letter to Managing Attorney of the Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc. each year.

Joshua Dubs

Joshua Dubs, Esq.

Volunteer Lawyers Project

The purpose of the award is to recognize an attorney, nominated by the Volunteer Lawyers Project, who has demonstrated exemplary pro bono services. Joshua E. Dubs was selected for this special recognition because of his extraordinary commitment to providing pro bono legal services to those individuals in need in our community. He began volunteering with VLP in early April 2009, just a few weeks after he was admitted to practice law. Eleven years later, Mr. Dubs is still volunteering his time with VLP to help low income clients. He has represented 590 VLP clients and dedicated over 450 pro bono hours to date. Over this short period of time, he has received three VLP annual pro bono awards. Mr. Dubs’ willingness to take on some of the most difficult VLP cases, along with providing high quality work, has made him an incredibly valuable volunteer. For the foregoing reasons, Mr. Dubs is deserving of the Rev. A. Joseph Bissonette Pro Bono Award and this Association is pleased to acknowledge publicly his extraordinary service.

Thank you to our sponsors!

GOLD SPONSORS
Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC
Counsel Press
FirstLight
Law Offices of Timothy M. O’Mara
Nixon Peabody LLP
Mower
William Mattar, P.C.
Usherwood 

SILVER SPONSORS
Brown Chiari LLP
Charles J. Sellers Insurance
Delaware North
Hodgson Russ LLP
Hurwitz & Fine, P.C.
Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP
Medivest Benefit Advisors, Inc.
Paramount Settlement Planning & Precision Resolution

BRONZE SPONSOR
Ahrens Bar Association Marketplace