Denver Bar Association
June 2000
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Award Winners Shine on June 21



You are invited to attend the FREE annual meeting/party of the Denver Bar Association on Wednesday, June 21, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Colorado Historical Society, 1300 Broadway. At the party we will honor the following bar association and community leaders.

The DBA Award of Merit will go to Steven C. Choquette, who has co-chaired the Availability of Legal Services Committee since 1993 and currently serves on the CBA/DBA Joint Task Force on Multidisciplinary Practice. His years of service to the bar association and Metro Volunteer Lawyers has made a difference to the profession and pro bono legal services.

F. Stephen Collins is the Volunteer Lawyer of the Year. He has participated in over 100 mock trials at schools throughout the metropolitan area. Thousands of students have participated in these interactive programs, which are designed to raise awareness and understanding of Colorado's Ethnic Intimidation Statute and the harm that comes from hate crimes.

The Young Lawyer of the Year is Laura B. Embleton. She has been chair of the DBA Young Lawyers Division since 1998. As chair, she has developed and maintained many programs for new attorneys, such as the annual Bar Mart and Soiree. She has also been instrumental in developing programs for the public. Her most recent endeavor is organizing the Celebration of Excellence, a graduation ceremony for foster children.

Thomas B. Kelley is this year's Liberty Bell Award recipient. This award goes to someone who has helped maintain civil liberties. Tom has spent most of his career representing media and First Amendment rights throughout the state. He provides pro bono legal services to small newspapers through the Colorado Press Association. Tom was the principal draftsman of the revision of the 1991 Sunshine Law and the 1996 Open Meetings and Records Acts.

Darla Benford is the Legal Assistant of the Year. She has 13 years of legal experience, is a member of the CBA Paralegal Committee, Arapahoe Bar Association and the DBA Family Law Section. She provides cost-effective, quality mediation and paralegal services in the area of domestic/family law, as owner and president of Choices Unlimited LLC. She is being honored for her professional dedication to family law and domestic mediation.

Gordon E. Heaton is the Teacher of the Year. He has taught social studies for 33 years in Denver Public Schools. For the past five years, Gordon has taught law and history at Thomas Jefferson High School. Coupled with his varied education career, Gordon was a lobbyist at the State Capitol and has worked with lawyers, judges and police officers to inspire and motivate his students in their studies of the law.

The Peace Officer of the Year is James M. Mair. James has been with the Denver Police Department for four years and in law enforcement since 1981. In 1996, he was assigned as a Neighborhood Police Officer in Globeville and Swansea/Elyria. Currently, he is a Community Resource Officer, responsible for crime prevention programs, neighborhood watch and nuisance cases.

Karen Abbott, winner of the David Broffman Award, has worked for the Denver Rocky Mountain News since 1977. She has covered state trial courts, county and municipal courts, the state appellate courts, and the federal trial and appellate courts in Colorado. The Colorado Bar Association previously awarded her a Silver Gavel for "The Law Machine," a series of articles that followed the passage of 200 felony arrestees in Denver through the criminal justice system. More recently, Karen covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials in Denver and now is covering, among other things, the federal lawsuits filed in the wake of the Columbine High School tragedy.

County Court Judge Aleene Ortiz-White is the corecipient of the Judicial Excellence Award. Aleene has been on the county court bench since 1989. She has worked in nearly every division of county court and says she enjoys contact with the public that is unique to county court. She also has served on the Criminal Rules Committee of the Supreme Court.

Chief District Court Judge J. Stephen Phillips is the district court recipient of the Judicial Excellence Award. He has served as a judge in the Denver District Court since 1983. Serving in every division of the district court in the last 17 years, he has brought an efficient style of docket control to each division.

A new award this year, the Frontier Justice Award, goes to Frank Moya and Russell Stone for their acts of heroism. On separate occasions in 1999, these two attorneys came to the aid of members of the public. Moya saved a woman from being stabbed by her husband in the parking lot of the Jefferson County Courthouse. Stone, a former police officer, saved bus passengers from being shot.

We hope to see you June 21!







Ortiz White



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