Human Resources and Law

State Bar of Michigan honors 'best' in profession

October 21, 2015
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State Bar of Michigan honors 'best' in profession
The State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners meets in Grand Rapids at DeVos Place during an annual meeting. Photo via

The State Bar of Michigan has hosted its annual meeting and honored a dozen of “the best” legal professionals for their contributions to the statewide industry.

The annual meeting was held in Novi from Oct. 7-9 at Suburban Collection Showplace.

The 2016 State Bar of Michigan Annual Meeting is scheduled to be held in downtown Grand Rapids on Sept. 22-23 at Devos Place.

Annual award winners

Roberts P. Hudson Award: Edward Pappas

Pappas served for 10 years on the SBM Board of Commissioners, culminating with his year as president in 2008-2009.

While president, he established the Professionalism in Practice Program, which began with 20 prominent lawyers and judges mentoring law students and has expanded to teach ethics and professionalism to students in every Michigan law school.

Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Public Service Award: Timothy Baughman

Baughman joined the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in 1975 and became chief of research, training and appeals in 1985.

He has argued more than 70 times in the Michigan Supreme Court and seven times in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Public Service Award: Adam Shakoor

Shakoor was appointed to the 36th District Court in Detroit in 1981, becoming the first Muslim-American judge in the U.S. or Canada.

Elected to serve two terms as chief judge, he implemented a drug docket and an environmental court that cleared a 10-year backlog of cases, secured funding to allow for the full computerization of the court and established off-site locations for paying traffic fines.

Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Public Service Award: James Shonkwiler

The late Shonkwiler began his career as court-appointed counsel for indigent defendants and spent his retirement working to reform Michigan’s indigent criminal defense system.

In between, he was appointed associate director of the Michigan Crime Commission, which created the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council, the first state-level office to train and support county prosecutors.

Champion of Justice Award: David Christensen

In his 43 years practicing medical malpractice, motor vehicle accident and defective products law, Christensen has tried more than 100 jury trials, securing nine verdicts for his clients in excess of $1 million.

He has authored eight books to assist and instruct other plaintiff attorneys.

Champion of Justice Award: Stephanie Dawkins Davis

Davis has been an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan for 18 years.

She steers a number of initiatives to these ends, including Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust, building trusting relationships between police and the community.

Champion of Justice Award: Nora Hudson

Hudson has worked as a solo practitioner in the Franklin Park/Grandale area of Detroit since 1988.

Having watched many members of her community struggle to fully engage in society because of criminal records, she organized two Criminal Record Expungement Fairs with the Delta Sigma Sorority in February and March 2015, so indigent citizens could meet with attorneys and determine the necessary steps to expunge their criminal records for a fresh start in life.

Champion of Justice Award: Alicia Skillman

Skillman has devoted her career to fighting for human rights and has worked particularly hard to bring together the African-American and LGBTQ communities.

She serves as executive director of Prevailing Community Development Corporation in Detroit and runs her law firm.

John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono Award: Paul Scheidemantel

From 2009 to 2013, Scheidemantel recorded 1,190 hours of pro bono work and 291 hours of administrative time related to pro bono work for indigent or low-income people. All told, he has dedicated an average of 300 hours a year to pro bono work for the past five years.

Scheidemantel has served on the SBM Pro Bono Initiative and plays a vital role on Clark Hill’s Pro Bono Committee, identifying and coordinating pro bono opportunities for the firm’s Detroit attorneys.

John W. Reed Michigan Lawyer Legacy Award: Joseph Kimble

Professor Kimble has taught an entire generation of lawyers how to become better writers and communicators, teaching legal writing and drafting for more than 30 years at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

He has served as senior editor of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, long-time editor of the Michigan Bar Journal Plain Language column and past president of Clarity and was a founding member of the Center for Plain Language.

Kimberly M. Cahill Bar Leadership Award: St. Clair County Bar Association

The 130 lawyer and judge members of the St. Clair County Bar Association have run a highly successful mock-trial program, founded by attorney John Livesay and Judge Cynthia Platzer, for 10 years.

Through the program, attorneys teach students courtroom processes and how to develop, organize and present case theories, speak effectively and persuasively and demonstrate civility and respect to their opponents.

Liberty Bell Award: Matthew Branding

Branding has taught speech, government, law and advanced placement U.S. government at Caro High School for 17 years.

For 15 years, he has served as teacher liaison to the Caro High School Youth in Government Club, an organization that allows students to draft and present bills in a mock legislature at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing and participate in mock trials.

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