Former Oakland City Attorney Jayne W. Williams
was named the Public Lawyer of the Year last month in recognition of
her efforts to advance the public's interest.
award, presented by Chief Justice Ronald M. George, is given by the
State Bar's Public Law Section.
Until a year ago, Williams had spent her entire
legal career in the public arena, beginning as an associate legal
counsel to Oakland's HUD-funded model cities program. She became a
deputy city attorney, director of the city's office of personnel and
was a deputy city attorney before being named to the top job in 1987.
Although Williams recently joined a private law
firm, she works in its public law department, representing cities,
counties, redevelopment agencies and special districts.
also has a long resume of professional and community affiliations. She
has "looked outward to her community and inward to the heart of her
profession and dedicated herself to advancing the public's interest
and the good of society," said George.
Also honored last month as the Family Law
Section's Judicial Off-icer of the Year was Commissioner Michael J.
Gassner, who was recognized for outstanding service to the community.
A longtime family and juvenile law practitioner, Gassner has been a
commissioner for the San Bernardino Superior Court since 1996. Prior
to his service on the bench, he practiced with his parents, Beverly
and Larry Gassner, who are known locally as the family law dynasty of
the Inland Empire.
"He treats everyone - attorneys, parties,
staff, clerk, bailiff - as if they're an integral part of making
the system work," said family law section chair Katrina West, who
nominated Gassner for the award. Des-cribing Gassner as "very
unassuming," West said he is noted for the efficient way he runs his
courtroom and for thinking "outside the box."
American Bar Association also honored retired San Diego Sup-erior
Court Judge Norbert Ehrenfreund with an Award of Judicial Excellence
presented by its Judicial Division National Conference of State Trial
Judges. A judge for 20 years, Ehrenfreund remains on full-time
assignment despite his formal retirement in 1995.
Known as the "Renaissance" judge, he acted in
leading roles in community theater, danced and sang in a children's
musical, and wrote two plays on important legal issues. As a judge,
Ehrenfreund is known for his passion for justice. He initiated reforms
in Family Court to protect battered women and to bring peaceful
resolutions in child custody disputes. He is known for counseling
defendants and ex-inmates and is dedicated to community-based
solutions to substance abuse. Two years ago he participated in the ABA
Central and Eastern European Law Initiative conference on Albanian
former federal judge, a law professor and a member of the State Bar
Board of Governors also were honored last month for civic leadership
and excellence in "the teaching, practice, enactment or adjudication
of the law."
Each received the Bernard E. Witkin Awards from
the San Diego Law Library Justice Foundation.
The recipients are:
J. Lawrence Irving, former judge of the U.S. District Court, Southern
District, who resigned his lifetime post in 1990 after Congress
enacted mandatory sentencing guidelines. Irving, who chairs Sen.
Barbara Boxer's federal judicial screening committee for the
southern district, is a private mediator and is of counsel with Butz,
Dunn, DeSantis & Bingham. He and his son founded an annual charity
golf tournament benefitting the San Diego Child Abuse Prevention
Janeen Kerper, professor of law at California Western School of Law.
Director of Latin American Programs, William J. McGill Center for
Creative Problem Solving, Kerper is fluent in Spanish and French and
has taught trial advocacy courses in Latin America.
Judith M. Copeland, partner with Copeland & Tierman. She
represents San Diego on the State Bar Board of Governors, served on
the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation for six years and was
the recipient of the 2001 National Association of Women Lawyers
President's Award. She was elected to the bar board of governors in
Thirteen recipients have received a Witkin award