For Immediate Release
May 17, 2016
Contact: Kate Coscarelli, [email protected] or 732-937-7548.
The New Jersey State Bar Association will honor a long-time bar leader, four young lawyers, two champions of equality and diversity, and a family lawyer at the Annual Meeting and Convention in Atlantic City. Awards will be presented by the NJSBA Board of Trustees, the Diversity Committee, the Family Law Section and the Young Lawyers Division (YLD). The state bar’s graduating Leadership Academy fellows will also be recognized.
Paulette Brown will be recognized for her leadership and diversity-related work throughout her more than 35 years in the profession. Last August, she became the first woman of color to become president of the nearly 400,000-member American Bar Association (ABA), and is chair of the NJSBA’s Labor and Employment Section. She is a past recipient (2011) of the NJSBA Diversity Committee’s Mel Narol Excellence in Diversity Award in recognition of her tireless commitment to diversity and inclusion within the NJSBA. Brown also received DRI's 2010 Sheryl J. Willert Pioneer Diversity Award and was honored with The Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. In 2014, she was honored by the Rutgers Law-Camden Black Law Students Association for exemplifying the values advocated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The NJSBA’s Diversity Committee will present the Mel Narol Excellence in Diversity Award to Evan Wolfson and Julian X. Neals at the annual Diversity Luncheon.
Wolfson, an attorney who represented scoutmaster James Dale in the landmark Supreme Court case of Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, is the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, a group supporting same-sex marriage in the United States. He was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, and is widely regarded as the architect and leader of the same-sex marriage movement. He authored the book Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry, which Time Out New York magazine called, “[p]erhaps the most important gay-marriage primer ever written….” In his early career, Wolfson wrote a Supreme Court amicus brief in Batson v. Kentucky, which helped win a nationwide ban on race discrimination in jury selection.
Neals, Bergen County counsel, is a board member and former chair of the Volunteer Lawyers for Justice (VLJ), and has dedicated substantial time and effort to improving the lives of economically disadvantages adults, children and families in New Jersey. He has also dedicated his time to community efforts, including Newark Reentry Legal Services, Greater Newark Conservancy, Caribbean American Heritage & Cultural Foundation, Newark Firefighters Union, Caribbean American Business Association and United Negro College Fund. He has been nominated to serve as a federal district court judge.
Family Law Award
Retired Superior Court Judge Eugene A. Iadanza will receive the Serpentelli Award for significant contributions to family law. Iadanza is now in private practice as an attorney, arbitrator and Rule 1:40 certified mediator. He served as judge in the family part for 16 of his 20 years on the bench. While on the bench, he handled a myriad of case types such as divorce, custody, non-dissolution, domestic violence and juvenile matters. He was the presiding judge of the Family Division in Monmouth County from Jan. 2000 to Aug. 2004 and presiding judge of the Family Division in Mercer County from April to Oct. 2008.
Young Lawyers Division Awards
Richard Lomurro will be honored with the Young Lawyer of the Year Award, which is presented to a practitioner whose personal and professional achievements merit special recognition and who has made unique community and public service contributions, has actively participated in the organized bar and has stood out in the areas of professional knowledge, skill, integrity and courtesy. Lomurro has worked on several high-profile cases in the past year, including gaining an acquittal for a former New Jersey Devils player who, while acting as a coach for the Manasquan High School hockey team, was charged with allegedly assaulting a player. He is a trustee of the Monmouth Bar Association and is currently serving his third year as chair of the Juvenile Justice Committee. He also chairs the Lomurro Law Charitable Fund, which provides $30,000 in support annually to those in need in Monmouth County, and serves as a trustee on the Tara Hansen Foundation and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County.
Kristyl Berckes will receive the Professionalism Award, recognizing a young lawyer whose personal and professional accomplishments merit special recognition, and who has contributed to and excelled in service to the community, service to the bar and professional achievement. Berckes argued the case of Major v. Maguire, which set the stage to clarify the procedural guidelines for grandparent visitation in New Jersey. She is also an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in the paralegal studies program, teaching family law and legal research and writing.
Rajeh A. Saadeh will be honored with the Service to the Bar Award, presented to a young lawyer who has dedicated considerable time to bar activities at the county, state and/or national level, including specialty and minority bars. Saadeh is a member of the Supreme Court of New Jersey’s Family Practice Committee, and has served as parliamentarian of the YLD and a member of the NJSBA’s Diversity, Appellate Practice, and Equity Jurisprudence committees, as well as General Council. He is also a member of the Somerset County Bar Association’s Family Practice and Real Property Law committees and is president of the New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association.
Gemma Giantomasi will receive the Service to the Community Award, recognizing a young lawyer who has devoted substantial time and energy to community-oriented activities such as pro bono work, government service, charity involvement or other public service. She has been an active volunteer with VLJ’s Reentry Legal Services, assisting Essex County residents with criminal records with civil legal matters that serve as barriers to successful reentry into the community. Additionally, she is involved with the Opportunity Project, Inc., a nonprofit providing life skills, job training and more for adults with traumatic brain injuries, and a board member of the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, which collects donations for 11 social service agencies that provide financial aid and vital service to low-income residents in North Jersey.
Leadership Academy Graduates
The New Jersey State Bar Association’s Leadership Academy marks the graduation of its inaugural class. The academy was formed in 2015 to identify, nurture and inspire effective leadership within the bar and the legal community at large. It aims to foster the development of a cadre of diverse and inclusive leaders who will be available for leadership and service to the association, the state, federal and local entities, and other bar associations and groups.
The fellows completing the year-long training are: Emily J. Bordens, Alec Borenstein, Kevin Michael Brennan, Melinda Colon Cox, Christine Smith Fellows, Lloyd Freeman, Nicholas Kant, Stephanie Lomurro, Christine Kim Neeman, Stacie Powers, Ahmad Rasool, Joshua H. Reinitz, Leslie A. Saint and Jonas Seigel.