Local Champions of Justice among State Bar’s 2014 Awardees

Local Champions of Justice among State Bar’s 2014 Awardeesmodern natural baby inprogress

(Crystal A. Proxmire, with thanks to Samantha Meinke, Sept. 22, 2014)

The State Bar of Michigan announced winners of their 2014 awards, and those from Oakland County are tops in areas of social justice.

Michael L. Pitt, managing partner at Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers received a Champion of Justice Award for work he did in representing women in the Michigan Department of Corrections who reported being raped and abused by male guards while in prison. More than 500 women had claims, and after 12 years of litigation, rs057Angela Shapiroa class action lawsuit was settled for $100 million and Michigan made significant reforms, including a regulation that prevents male prison guards from staffing female residential units in Michigan’s prisons and jails.

In Saginaw County, Pitt helped change a practice where misdemeanor pre-trial detainees were stripped naked and held in full view of other detainees and employees in “the hole.” The practice was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. In Livingston County Jail his work meant that the county had to build adequate housing facilities for women and grant them equal privileges to men.

Now Pitt is taking on Public Act 349 of 2012, Right to Work, claiming that its passage violated the Open Meetings Act.

Another recipient of the Champion of Justice Award is the legal team behind the DeBoer v. Snyder case for oakland115 reikisecond parent adoption and same sex marriage. Kenneth M. Mogill, Dana M. Nessel, Robert A. Sedler, and Carole M. Stanyar are in the midst of the appeals process for a case that could bring equality to the issuance of marriage licenses in the state.

Together they are fighting for the rights of Hazel Park couple April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse to adopt their three special needs children.

Kenneth M. Mogill is a partner at Mogill, Posner & Cohen. He practices in the areas of professional ethics and criminal defense. He is a past president of Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and an adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School, where he robert wittenberg election 2014 adteaches criminal procedure and professional responsibility.

Dana M. Nessel, an attorney at Nessel and Kessel Law, focuses on criminal defense, and also handles civil rights actions, family law matters, and general tort litigation. Prior to her work in private practice, she worked for more than a decade as a Wayne County assistant prosecutor, devoting much of her work to special assignment units.

Robert A. Sedler is a distinguished professor of law at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he teaches constitutional law and conflict of laws. He was the chairperson of the State Bar of Michigan Constitutional Law Committee and of the Legal Education Committee. He is the author of Constitutional Law in the United States.

Carole M. Stanyar focuses her Ann Arbor-based law practice on criminal appeals, federal criminal law, sidebar01sponsorInternet crimes and money laundering. She is an instructor for the Wayne County Criminal Advocacy Program, and she previously served as a public defender in Wayne County and contributing editor to Gillespie Michigan Criminal Law and Procedure Lawyers Co-Op.

For a history of the Hazel Park couple’s fight, visit http://oaklandcounty115.com/2014/08/05/hazel-park-same-sex-marriage-case-scheduled-for-aug-6/, and follow the links at the bottom of the page for previous stories.

A dozen awards were given in total at the State Bar’s Annual Meeting on Sept. 17. To learn more about the other winners, or about Michigan Bar Association, visit their website at http://www.michbar.org/programs/2014_award_winners.cfm.

 

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