Utah State Bar Presents Awards At 2005 Annual Convention
The Annual Awards of the Utah State Bar were presented at the Bar's 75th Annual Convention by the Board of Bar Commissioners, on behalf of the entire Bar membership. Recipients are selected on the basis of achievement; professional service to clients, the public, courts and the Bar; and exemplification of the highest standards of professionalism to which all judges and lawyers aspire.
Judge of the Year
Hon. Andrew A. Valdez
Judge Andrew A. Valdez was appointed to the Third District Juvenile Court in June of 1993 by Gov. Michael O. Leavitt. He serves Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties. He graduated from the University of Utah College of Law in 1977.
Prior to his appointment, Judge Valdez was a commissioned captain in the U.S. Army J.A.G. Corp and trial counsel with the Legal Defenders Association Felony/Homicide Division.
Awards include Board of Youth Corrections Distinguished Service Award; American Red Cross Lifesaver Award; Minority Bar Association Leadership Award; Lillian Smith 'Youth Advocate of the Year' Award; 'Peace in the Streets' Award given by the Salt Lake Area Gang Project; U.C.L.R. Leadership Award; Catholic Community Service Award; and Honorary Doctorate Degree of Humane Letters, Salt Lake Community College.
Judge Valdez has developed a court-based mentoring program, partnerships with community education schools, and opportunities for female juvenile offenders to work off restitution obligations.
Judge Valdez has served as chair of the statewide Youth Parole Authority, and has served on the Utah Sentencing Commission, Board of Trustees for Primary Children's Medical Center, Juvenile Justice Task Force, Board of Juvenile Court Judges, and the Judicial Council. He is currently a member of the National Youth Gang Center and was honored January 2003 with the Martin Luther King Civil Rights Award by the N.A.A.C.P. Judge Valdez was awarded the Footprinter's Association Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award and the Utah Children Child Advocate of the Year award in May 2005.
Distinguished Committee of the Year
Lori W. Nelson & Scott R. Sabey, Co-Chairs
The Bar's Governmental Relations Committee assists the members of the Bar by monitoring activity at the offices of the Governor, Senate and the House of Representatives. Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 4 of the Utah Constitution, and as set out in Rule III, Section O of the Supreme Court Rules of Professional Practice and State Bar Integration and Management, the Utah Supreme Court has directed the Governmental Relations Committee to study and provide assistance on public policy issues, and advise the Bar Commission on positions to adopt on public policy issues and pending legislation. This includes issues involving: the courts of this state; rules of procedure and evidence in the courts; the administration of justice; the practice of law; and matters of substantive law on which the collective expertise of lawyers has special relevance and/or which may affect an individual's ability to access legal services or the legal system as defined by the Utah Supreme Court.
The Committee also uses the broad participation of the Bar by seeking participation in the Governmental Relations Committee by each of the other Sections and Committees of the Bar. The Committee's members also review and analyze pending or proposed legislation and provide technical assistance to the Legislature, the Governor, the Judicial Council and other public bodies upon request.
The greatest challenge the Governmental Relations Committee has faced over the last few years has been to improve the Bar's relationship with the Legislature. A better working relationship is necessary to assist in improving the quality and clarity of laws that are passed. To that end Constitutional Law classes by professors of both law schools have been offered for new legislators, presentations on the available services of the Governmental Relations Committee have been made to the caucuses of both parties, and meetings have been held with key members of the House and Senate. The Committee has also assisted the Bar Commission in the effort to ensure the Bar's representations to the Legislature are consistent with the views of its members.
The degree of success enjoyed to date in Governmental Relations Committee's overall goals of improving the practice of law for lawyers and the impact of the laws on the public could not be accomplished without the tremendous contributions of Bar member John T. Nielsen, to whom we all owed a debt of thanks.
Distinguished Section of the Year
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Michelle M. Roybal, Chair
At 136 members, the ADR Section may well be one of the smallest of our Bar. We have found, however, that the membership is vocal, strong, and committed to supporting events advocating for dispute resolution throughout our community.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Section of the Utah State Bar is pleased to welcome attorneys and non-attorneys as its members. We are one of the few Sections of the State Bar authorized to allow non-attorney members to join. We believe this is indicative of the collaborative work that we do as conflict resolution practitioners and we hope that the professional diversity represented in our Section improves the quality of the education programs we offer as a Section.
Some of the accomplishments of the ADR Section over this past year include the establishment of the ADR Academy as our flagship event, co-sponsoring the Utah ADR Symposium Seeking Just Resolutions with the Utah Council on Conflict Resolution, and holding sessions at the Midyear Conference, Annual Convention and Fall Forum. As well, annually, the Section honors a community member who has significantly contributed to the field of dispute resolution with the Peter W. Billings, Sr. Outstanding Service Award.
In addition to these CLE and professional development programs, our members have become increasingly involved in outreach and education efforts regarding conflict resolution. We have been involved with the review of legislation mandating mediation in domestic law disputes in Utah, as well as the in the establishment of a volunteer mediation program at the Sandy Division of the Third District Court. One of the primary goals of the Section leadership over the coming years is to increase the exposure of students in public schools to the ADR process and to their own abilities to resolve conflicts in an effective manner.
We are honored by this award from the Board of Bar Commissioners and are pleased to be involved in the recognition of the importance of the role of lawyer as problem solver.