Honor roll: OCBA presents awards at 84th Annual Meeting


– Photos by John Meiu

At the annual meeting of the Oakland County Bar Association on June 4 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, the Professionalism Award was presented to U.S. District Judge David Lawson and Miller Canfield attorney Thomas Cranmer, a past president of the State Bar of Michigan. A member of the federal bench since 1999, Lawson has served for 6 years on the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Criminal Procedure, several Sixth Circuit committees, and has chaired the Eastern District of Michigan committees on Local Rules and Bankruptcy. A magna cum laude graduate of both the University of Notre Dame and Wayne State University Law School, Lawson is a board member of the Federal Judges Association. Cranmer, a former assistant U.S. attorney, is a past president of the Oakland County Bar Foundation and the Eastern District of Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He has been listed in “The Best Lawyers in America” for the past 20 years and was recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as its “Lawyer of the Year” in 2014.

Forty-nine attorneys were recognized as 40-year Honorees at the Oakland County Bar Associations Annual Meeting. Among the honorees was Oakland County Circuit Judge Wendy Potts, who will be retiring from the bench later this year after more than 20 years of distinguished service. A sellout crowd was on hand for the event, which was highlighted by an awards ceremony prior to the Annual Meeting.

In the accompanying group photo above, the 40-year honorees included in alphabetical order: Joseph Aviv, Leland Barringer, Michael Battersby, Greg Bereznoff, Steven Cohen, Thomas Cory, Timothy Currier, Peter Doerr, Lawrence Dudek, Dennis Egan, Michael Fabian, Craig Forhan, Robert Gariepy, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith, Mark Hafeli, Patrick Hall, Constantine Kallas, Steven Kirschner, Steven Malach, Anthony Malizia, Jack Mazzara, Mark McInerney, John Mooney, Courtney Morgan, Gregory Murray, Gregory Need, Jules Olsman, H. Elliot Parnes, Richard Paul, Jerome Pesick, Edward Plato, Judge Wendy Potts, Brad Rayle, G. Gregory Schivley, Ellen Schreuder, James Scieszka, Mark Shreve, Steven Sinkoff, Phillip Sternberg, Neil Strefling, Michael Sugameli, Daniel Swanson, William Tanoury, Robert Tice, James Vlasic, Andrew Wachler, Michael Wachsberg, S. Thomas Wienner, and Deborah Zukin.

PHOTO A: Keefe Brooks (left) was presented the Distinguished Service Award and Jody Hall was honored with the Distinguished Public Servant Award for 2018. Brooks, a fellow of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, was honored for providing “exceptional voluntary services” to the OCBA, including on the board of directors, the Inns of Court program, and various committees. Hall has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in public service that began as a law clerk for a U.S. District Court magistrate and since 1997 as an attorney with the Oakland County Corporation Counsel office. In addition to serving on several OCBA committees, Hall also is a member of the Brandon Township Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.

PHOTO B: Deborah Bricely and Jonathan Martone also were among the honorees at the Annual Meeting. Bricely, who holds nursing and law degrees, was the winner of the Frances R. Avadenka Memorial Award, named in honor of the OCBA’s first female president. Bricely was recognized for her longtime volunteer work with the American Red Cross, Lighthouse of Oakland County, and various Troy school organizations. Martone was the recipient of the Bonnie L. Beutler Outstanding New Lawyer honor. An attorney with Clark Hill, Martone has been an active member of the New Lawyers Committee for the OCBA, serving as vice chair and then chair, helping spearhead a new networking event, Octoberfest.

PHOTO C: The winner of the Liberty Bell Award, named in honor of Allene and Martin Doctoroff, was Tom Kirvan, editor-in-chief of The Detroit Legal News. The award is presented to an individual “whose community activity has strengthened the American system of freedom” and has “promoted a better understanding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.” Pictured with OCBA President Jim Parks (left) and outgoing President Gerald Gleeson, Kirvan has been a newspaperman for nearly four decades, and has served in leadership roles with various charitable organizations, including St. Joseph Mercy Health System, Big Brothers Big Sisters, a school foundation, and a substance abuse prevention council.

PHOTO D: The S. Gerald Gorcyca Meritorious Service to Veterans Award was presented posthumously to Karl Rutledge Bennett Jr., a Cass Tech grad who earned his juris doctor from Detroit College of Law.  Mr. Bennett, who passed away last August, was a veteran of the U.S. Army and was a key member of the OCBA’s Veterans Committee since its formation. Accepting the award on his behalf was his daughter, Jennifer Smeltzer.

PHOTO E: Jim Parks, a partner with Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer, & Weiss, was sworn in as the new president of the OCBA at the Annual Meeting. Parks (pictured front row center) succeeds Gerald Gleeson, an attorney with Miller Canfield, as president of the OCBA, which is the largest voluntary bar association in the state. Gathering for a group photo with Parks prior to the program were members of the OCBA Board of Directors (front row, left to right) Kaveh Kashef, Keefe Brooks, Dan Quick, and Oakland County 52-4 District Court Judge Maureen McGinnis; along with (back row, left to right) Vicky King, Melinda Deel, Dean Googasian, retired Judge Edward Sosnick, Sarah Kuchon, Aaron Burrell, Kari Melkonian, and Syeda Davidson.