NJSBA honors members whose volunteer efforts advance mission

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For Immediate Release
December 11, 2015

Contact: Kate Coscarelli
Senior Managing Director Communications
NEW BRUNSWICK - The New Jersey State Bar Association honored some of the many volunteers who gave their time and expertise to advance the issues that matter to the state’s lawyers and the profession.
Fifteen attorneys received awards at the Board of Trustee’s holiday luncheon on Dec. 11 for their efforts on amicus matters and advancing legislation, and former NJSBA President Ralph J. Lamparello was recognized for excellence in judicial administration.
NJSBA President Miles S. Winder III said the success of the association is due to the hard work of its volunteers.
“We are proud to take a moment to honor our members whose efforts make an important difference in the association and the legal community,” said Winder.
Here’s a look at the honorees:
Arthur T. Vanderbilt Award
Former NJSBA President Ralph J. Lamparello received this year’s Arthur T. Vanderbilt Award for Excellence in Judicial Administration. Under his tenure, the association took a prominent role in the public discourse on the vital importance of protecting judicial independence.
Through speaking engagements, meetings, seminars and op-ed articles, he worked to thwart the deliberate, and sometimes personal, attacks against the Judiciary. He also established a Task Force on Judicial Independence that studied the issue and offered recommendations about what the association, legal community and public should do to ensure the judicial system is protected.
Amicus Awards
Through the pro bono efforts of members, the NJSBA enjoys a reputation with the New Jersey Supreme Court for meaningful, thoughtful intervention in matters that have the potential to broadly affect the practice of law.
This year, the association’s amicus award honorees addressed issues ranging from the mandatory retirement age of judges to the use of blood test results in driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases to alimony awards.
In State of New Jersey v. James Buckner, one of the most closely watched cases the Court has heard in recent years, it considered and found the use of recall judges was constitutional. The association didn’t take a position on the merits of the case, but successfully urged the Court to consider the public policy ramifications that would have sent shockwaves throughout the legal industry if the justices had found the use of retired judges who have been tapped to hear some matters for the past 40 years was not allowed.
NJSBA President Elect Thomas H. Prol, First Vice President Robert B. Hille, Trustee Sandra T. Ayres and attorney John Kaveney authored the briefs in the matter.
Several matters had to do with DWI-related issues.
In State of New Jersey v. James J. Revie, Jeffrey Evan Gold took the lead in arguments before the Court regarding whether a defendant who is convicted of a third DWI offense more than a decade after his prior offense is entitled to a lesser sentence.
Gold and Thomas Cannavo championed the association’s position that the state’s strong protections against illegal searches would be undermined by an appellate court ruling in State of New Jersey v. Timothy Adkins, a drunk-driving case in which police drew blood from the defendant without first obtaining a warrant or the man’s consent.
John Menzel argued in State of New Jersey v. Julie Kuropchak that police reports prepared to lay the groundwork for the prosecution of a crime shouldn’t play a role in court, and that reports were improperly admitted in Julie Kuropchak’s case, since they were instrumental in the charges filed against her and not just business reports and there was no way to cross-examine a witness about the information.
Arguing as an amicus party in State v. William L. Witt, which involved the use of warrantless motor vehicle searches, the association contended law enforcement’s challenge to it would undermine motorists’ constitutional protections. Gold, NJSBA Secretary Kimberly A. Yonta, and Justin M. Moles authored the brief.
In a family law matter, Brian M. Schwartz, Derek M. Freed and Brian G. Paul authored briefs in a case that will impact how alimony is determined in thousands of cases each year. Gnall v. Gnall centered on how a judge set the alimony award in the case and what factors judges should use going forward, and the association urged the state’s highest court to make clear that many factors must be considered when reviewing an alimony request. The Court ultimately agreed with that position.
Legislative honors
The Distinguished Legislative Service Award went to Debra E. Guston, a family law practitioner.
Guston, a former chair of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Section, was recognized for her exhaustive efforts to advance the association’s legislative agenda. She has met with legislators and demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter and brought a reasoned approach to the situation. In the past year, she has testified on several bills and has offered key insights into legislation related to LGBT issues, family law, juvenile justice and more.
American Bar Association service
Christina Vassilou Harvey was recognized for her service as the association’s young lawyers division delegate to the American Bar Association’s governing body, the House of Delegates. Harvey is a former trustee and past chair of the Young Lawyers Division.