The Defender of Distinction Award, presented by the Missouri State Public Defender Commission, is bestowed annually upon a public defender who exemplifies the ideal of public defense. .
William (Bill) Swift has spent more than 23 years as an Assistant Public Defender for the Missouri State Public Defender in Columbia. He earned his Bachelor of Social Work degree at Creighton University in 1980 and his Juris Doctor in 1986 from Saint Louis University School of Law. He then became a law clerk with the Supreme Court of Missouri, working with Judge Albert Rendlen. At the end of his clerkship, he relocated to Providence, Rhode Island, and became an associate with the Law Office of John A. Thompson. He returned to Missouri in 1988 to continue his career in public service, working for the Attorney General’s Office as an Assistant Attorney General. A year later, he joined the Missouri State Public Defender. He practices in the complex field of capital post-conviction, where his cases literally mean life or death for his clients. Any research of the law in that area will turn up a host of notable cases he has litigated. He is the coordinator for the UCLA Law School’s U.S. Supreme Court Clinic Collaboration with the Missouri Public Defender and serves on the Practice, Procedure, and Judiciary Committee of the Boone County Bar Association. He also serves on the Missouri State Public Defender Selection Committee for Computer Assisted Research Contracts and as a judge for a number of University of Missouri-Columbia Law School competitions. In 2010, he was awarded the Appellate Excellence Award by the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is married to Melinda Pendergraph, who also works with the Missouri State Public Defender as the system’s Director of Training. They are the proud parents of two boys: Billy, a 2013 graduate of Rock Bridge High School who will be attending Notre Dame this fall; and John, who will be a freshman at Rock Bridge High School.In his spare time, Swift enjoys coaching youth basketball, baseball, and soccer.
The Prosecutor of the Year Award is presented by the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys to recognize outstanding achievement in the profession of prosecution. These achievements may be in the areas of decision-making, integrity, courtroom advocacy, or policy. Michael S. Wright is the elected prosecuting attorney for Warren County, a rural community of 32,000 residents located 45 minutes west of St. Louis. He is the third person in his family to serve in that position.He was first elected and took office in 1991, and is now serving his sixth four-year term. Warren County, although established in 1833, did not elect its own prosecuting attorney until 1875. Since then, only 12 elected prosecutors have served the county. Wright is the county’s second longest serving prosecutor. His grandfather, Alvin Juergensmeyer, was the longest serving prosecutor at 28 years, and his great-grandfather, J.W. Delventhal, became prosecutor in 1891. Among them, the three family members have served Warren County for more than 60 years. Wright grew up in Warren County and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He attended law school at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, from which he received his first taste of prosecution by working in the Osage County, Kansas prosecutor’s office and actually tried three jury trials as a law student. Following law school, he was an assistant prosecuting attorney in Clay County, Missouri before eventually returning to his hometown and seeking the position of prosecuting attorney. In addition to his duties as prosecutor, Wright is active in the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. He was president of that organization in 2002, has served on its legislative committee for several years, and is also a member of its board of directors and retirement board. He is also an active member of the National District Attorneys Association. Besides serving on its board of directors, he was president from July 2012 to July 2013 and now holds the position of chairman of the board. He has spoken and taught at a number of NDAA’s training courses. Wright and his wife, Cindy, have two grown daughters and three grandchildren. He enjoys watching most sports, especially St. Louis Cardinals baseball and University of Missouri football and basketball. When he has free time, besides being with this family, he can be found at the golf course.(Video)
Three YLS Pro Bono Publico Awards are presented annually: one for members of The Missouri Bar in practice less than five years; one for members in practice more than five years; and a third for an organization or firm that actively encourages its employees and/or members – particularly its young or newly-admitted lawyers – to provide pro bono services. Awardees are selected from those who have excelled in one or more of the following ways: demonstrated dedication to the development and delivery of legal services to the poor through a pro bono program; contributed significant work toward developing innovative approaches to delivery of volunteer legal services; participated in an activity that resulted in satisfying previously unmet needs or in extending services to underserved segments of the population; successfully litigated pro bono cases that favorably affected the provision of other services to the poor; and successfully achieved legislation that contributed substantially to legal services to the poor. Jennifer Bukowsky graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri School of Law in 2006. After graduation, she clerked for Judge Mary Russell at the Supreme Court of Missouri for one year. She then worked at the Columbia trial office of the Missouri State Public Defender System. In October 2010, she opened her own law firm across the street from the Boone County Courthouse in downtown Columbia. Her practice is almost exclusively devoted to criminal defense, but she spends a significant amount of her time on pro bono cases. Currently, she is in the throes of litigating two habeas petitions that she has filed on behalf of two incarcerated pro bono clients who have been jailed for several years on murder charges. She has also handled several other pro bono cases in the past for indigent clients. In addition, Bukowsky regularly handles cases on a contract basis from the public defender at substantially lower rates than those charged to private clients. These cases often involve serious charges, such as murder, rape, and robbery. Those cases and pro bono cases make her a frequent visitor to jails and prisons. She also devotes time to her community and to her profession. She is chair of the Criminal Law Committee of the Boone County Bar Association and is nominated to become vice-president of that organization next year. She also serves on the board of directors for the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the Heart of Missouri United Way. She was appointed to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ State Legislative Affairs Committee, and is a member of the Women’s Law Association of Mid-Missouri. In addition, she served on The Missouri Bar Criminal Code Revision Subcommittee until completion of the revision at the end of 2011, and has participated in the Elwood L. Thomas Inns of Court. Bukowsky lives in Columbia with her husband, Brant, their 6-year-old son Blake, and their 4-year-old son August (“Gus”). (Video) Derek A. Ankrom practices in the Springfield office of Husch Blackwell, L.L.P., where he primarily focuses on commercial litigation for religious and educational institutions, healthcare entities, and clients in the real estate, design, and construction industries. He assists his clients in resolving a wide variety of legal issues, including employment disputes, claims of discrimination, civil rights violations, breach of contract actions, intentional tort and negligence actions, property disputes, construction law matters, and complex litigation. He has represented local, regional, and national companies and not-for-profit entities in both litigation and corporate matters. He has also appeared in trial courts throughout southern Missouri and the Missouri Court of Appeals on behalf of his clients. Ankrom graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law in 2011. While in law school, he served as a clerk to the Honorable Gary W. Lynch of the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Southern District (2009) and the Honorable Mark D. Pfeiffer of the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District (2010-2011). In 2011, he was named to the National Order of Scribes of the American Society of Legal Writers for displaying excellence in legal writing. He was also the 2013 recipient of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association and Legal Services of Southern Missouri’s Equal Access Award, which was established to recognize attorneys who have made significant contributions to the mission of Legal Services of Southern Missouri and have shown a commitment to assisting low-income individuals in civil law matters. (Video) Husch Blackwell, L.L.P. has a longstanding commitment to providing pro bono services to individuals, public service groups and charitable organizations that are unable to pay for the legal representation they need. It encourages its attorneys to provide pro bono legal services (giving full billable-hour credit for time spent on pro bono matters), engage in activities that improve access to justice for all, and provide financial support for organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means. The firm is a signatory member of the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, a national organization that encourages pro bono work in law firms across the country. In 2012 alone, more than 320 Husch Blackwell attorneys and staff performed more than 19,000 hours of pro bono legal work. Missouri-based Husch Blackwell is an industry-focused, full-service litigation and business law firm with locations in 16 U.S. cities and in London. It represents national and global leaders in major industries that include energy and natural resources; financial services; food and agribusiness; health care, life sciences and pharmaceuticals; real estate, development and construction; and technology, manufacturing and transportation. Its four Missouri offices are located in Jefferson City, Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis. (Video)
TOM COCHRAN COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD The Tom Cochran Community Service Award is presented annually by the Young Lawyers’ Section of The Missouri Bar to a lawyer whose service and professionalism have significantly enhanced his or her community. Charles R. Wooten graduated in 1998 from Culver-Stockton College in Canton before attending the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, from which he graduated in 2001. He was admitted to The Missouri Bar in 2001 and began his legal career in private practice. He then joined the firm now known as Roberts, Wooten & Zimmer in 2004 and became a partner in 2008. He focuses his legal practice in the areas of plaintiff’s workers’ compensation, personal injury, Social Security disability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and employment law. He also served as prosecuting attorney for the City of Crystal City from 2004-2007. Wooten has been, and is currently, involved with various civic and community organizations in the Hillsboro and Jefferson County community. He has assisted with fundraising efforts for Boy Scouts of America in the Hillsboro community. In addition, he has been a guest speaker and lecturer for various civic organizations and CLE and educational programs. He previously served as an adjunct professor at St. Louis Community College and guest lecturer at Jefferson College. He currently serves as adjunct professor at Jefferson College, teaching a course in business law. He is a member of The Missouri Bar, the Jefferson County Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, and the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys. Wooten just completed a term as president of the Jefferson County Bar Association. During his term as president, he established an ongoing CLE program for the local bar and helped establish a pro bono committee to encourage and facilitate pro bono efforts by members of the local bar. Additionally, he most recently served on a committee established to address issues related to the public defender in the 23rd Judicial Circuit.He is the immediate past president of the Hillsboro Rotary Club, and is a Paul Harris Fellow. During his term, the Rotary Club raised funds for various local causes, including the Hillsboro Food Pantry and the backpack program at the Hillsboro R-3 School District. (Video)
The Liberty Bell Award is presented annually by the Young Lawyers’ Section of The Missouri Bar to a non-lawyer or other non-legal organization that has engaged in public service activities significantly enhancing the local community.
The Veterans United Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization funded and driven by the employees of Veterans United Home Loans. Its mission is to enhance the lives of veterans and military families nationwide, as well as have a lasting impact on the local communities it serves. The foundation was launched in 2011 built on employee contributions, which are matched dollar-for-dollar by Veterans United Home Loans.The foundation partners with hundreds of military-related charities and individuals in need, including Operation Homefront, USO of Missouri, Armed Services YMCA, The Boot Campaign, The Mission Continues, Homes for Our Troops, Hire Heroes USA, and Fisher House. Veterans United Foundation also offers a biannual scholarship program with the goal of assisting military service members and their families with scholarships to help pay for tuition and books.More than $6.2 million has been pledged and donated, and 93 percent of Veterans United employees pledged one percent of their salaries in 2013. Through its commitment and collaboration with other organizations, the foundation strives to make a true and lasting difference in the lives of others. (Video)
The Pro Bono Publico Awards are presented annually to four persons – one each from the St. Louis and Kansas City areas and two from outstate Missouri – who have, within the past year, rendered outstanding pro bono service to indigent or low-income persons in need of legal assistance. Anthony L. “Tony” DeWitt was born in Kansas City, but as a “military brat” attended schools in Missouri, South Dakota, Colorado and California before graduating from high school in the Philippines in 1973.After high school, he joined the military and became a combat medic. In college, he transitioned to respiratory care and became a registered respiratory therapist, working in critical care areas and eventually managing cardiopulmonary departments in Connecticut, Illinois and Ohio. As health care reimbursement changed, and hospital management changed in turn, DeWitt became disillusioned with how health care was being provided. In 1990, he left the field of respiratory care and attended Saint Louis University School of Law. For the past 13 years, he has been with Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson & Gorny, P.C. There, he is part of the appellate practice team that handles complex appellate issues before state and federal courts. He has also handled a small but significant number of False Claims Act cases involving health care (particularly ambulance, cardiology, and physician-practice issues). He has lectured to therapists and other health care providers. For the last few years, he has been active on pro bono cases involving “zombie debt.” DeWitt is a frequent speaker for The Missouri Bar on office automation, tort law, and ethical issues related to technology. He also participates in CLE programs for the Mid-Missouri Samaritan Center on ethical topics, and has written extensively for scholarly legal journals as well. In 2005, he was honored by induction as a Fellow of the American Association of Respiratory Care. He is married to Ginger A. DeWitt, and they have four children: Jessica Rian, a pediatrician; Geoffrey Christopher, who is attending Ball State University; Meghan Cathleen, a sales professional with U.S. Cellular; and Zachary Lucas, a manager with Colton’s Steak House in Sedalia. (Video)
Tina N. Babel is a principal with the firm of Carmody MacDonald, where she practices in the area of business litigation with a concentration in fiduciary litigation. She represents businesses and individuals in both defense and plaintiff’s work, managing a wide array of disputes, including those arising out of contract, tort, breach of fiduciary duty, and class action disputes, among many others. She is also experienced litigating in both state and federal courts, as well as in arbitrations and mediations. She earned her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude with honors, from Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) in 2000. While in undergraduate school, she was recipient of the Curl Scholarship and Regent’s Scholarship. Her law degree came from the University of California Hastings College of Law in 2004. While in law school, she received the Maritime Association Scholarship, the Warren P. Olney, Jr. Memorial Scholarship, the Percy E. Towne Scholarship, and the Witkin Award for Academic Excellence. She was on the staff of the Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal (2002-2003) and graduated cum laude in the top 15 percent of her class.Babel is a member of The Missouri Bar, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the State Bar of California. During law school, Babel served as a volunteer for a “drop-in” legal clinic for the homeless. She has also participated in the Institute on World Legal Problems in Innsbruck, Austria, led by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.At Carmody MacDonald, she leads the firm’s pro bono program. As liaison to Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, she coordinates and oversees all pro bono matters referred to the firm, including landlord/tenant disputes, protective order cases, and domestic and guardianship issues, among others. During the time that she has led the firm’s pro bono program, she has successfully recruited all associates to participate in the program, and the firm now handles more than 20 cases per years. She was instrumental in the firm being honored with the first ever Gerald R. Ortbals Outstanding Law Firm Award. In addition, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri recognized the firm with its Volunteer Lawyer Award for its commitment to pro bono service during 2007-2008. In addition, she was the recipient of the F. William McCalpin Pro Bono Award from Legal Services of Eastern Missouri in 2012. She is involved in a number of community organizations, including the board of directors of the Crider Health Center and director of the Fort Zumwalt North High School Color and Winter Guard. She has also served as a speaker and author. (Video) Stacey Meyer Bowman is an associate in the Kansas City office of Husch Blackwell, where she has an active litigation practice in both state and federal district courts. She represents clients in commercial contract disputes, insurance coverage claims and business torts. Her experience also includes healthcare litigation, medical malpractice defense and products liability lawsuits. Her clients are from a variety of industries, including healthcare, insurance, construction, financial and energy. She is fluent in French, Spanish and Russian, and has applied her language and legal skills in pro bono immigration matters. She recently won a political asylum trial in the Kansas City Immigration Court.Bowman received her B.S. in Russian and International Business, with highest distinction, from the University of Iowa in 2005. She earned her J.D., with distinction and honors, in 2008 from the University of Iowa College of Law. While in law school, she served as International Coordinator of the Moot Court Executive Board. She is admitted to practice in Missouri and Kansas, as well as before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri and the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. In addition to The Missouri Bar, Bowman is a member of the American Bar Association and its International Law Section, the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, Kansas Bar Association, and the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association (Federal Court Advocates Section).She is extensively involved in civic activities, including: Catholic Charities, Refugee and Migrant Services; pro bono immigration counsel for Jewish Vocational Services; the Kansas City International Visitors Council; and Legal Aid of Western Missouri. In 2011, she was a recipient of The Missouri Bar Young Lawyers’ Section Pro Bono Award, and was added to The Missouri Bar Pro Bono Wall of Fame that same year. Earlier this year, she received the Robert C. Welch Volunteer Attorney Project Award from the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association. (Video)
The Greenwade Law Firm, L.L.C. in Willard was formed in 2010 by sisters Allison Greenwade and Kaiti Greenwade. Allison Greenwade practices in the areas of workers’ compensation, traffic law, family law, criminal law, estate planning, personal injury, and municipal law. She received her J.D. in 2005 from the University of Arkansas, and worked for five years at two Springfield law firms before co-founding her current firm. Kaiti Greenwade concentrates her practice in the areas of family law, personal injury, Social Security disability, criminal law, and estate planning. She earned her J.D. in 2009 from the University of TulsaIn 2010, both women joined Legal Services of Southern Missouri’s pro bono/judicare panels. During the past year, the firm handled 22 cases through that panel, helping 30 adults and 15 children while providing 249 hours of legal assistance to legal aid clients. In nominating the firm for this award, a Legal Services of Southern Missouri (LSSM) attorney wrote: “Kaiti and Allison are ideal volunteers; they are dependable, detail-oriented and very dedicated to the children and families in LSSM’s service area. [They] truly exemplify a dedication to pro bono cases and services to those who would otherwise have no access to justice.” (Video)
The W. Oliver Rasch Award was created by the Editorial Board of the Journal of The Missouri Bar to recognize outstanding substantive articles appearing in the Journal. The award carries with it a cash stipend from the Missouri Bar Foundation. The award is named after the late long-time member and former chair of the Editorial Board. H. Morley Swingle is an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. Prior to becoming a federal prosecutor, he served 25 years as the prosecuting attorney for Cape Girardeau County.He has prosecuted 79 homicide cases and tried 133 jury trials, some later featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline and Forensic Files.
An avid writer, his novel The Gold of Cape Girardeau won the 2005 Book Award from the Missouri Humanities Council and was praised as an “absorbing courtroom drama” by Elmore Leonard; his novel Bootheel Man was a finalist for the 2008 William Rockhill Nelson Award for fiction; his short story, “Hard Blows,” appeared in the Mystery Writers of American anthology The Prosecution Rests and was a finalist for the 2010 Barry Award for best short story published in America that year; and his true crime book about being a prosecutor, Scoundrels to the Hoosegow: Perry Mason Moments and Entertaining Cases From the Files of a Prosecuting Attorney, was hailed as “engrossing” and “highly recommended” by Vincent Bugliosi and is now in the law libraries of one-third of the nation’s law schools – including many that did not want him as a student.He is a past recipient of the W. Oliver Rasch Award. (Video)
The Purcell Professionalism Award was created in honor of, and by the family of, Mr. and Mrs. Martin J. Purcell to acknowledge outstanding professionalism in a Missouri lawyer who has consistently demonstrated an exceptional degree of competency, integrity and civility in both professional and civic activities. Cathy J. Dean is a senior partner with the Polsinelli law firm in Kansas City, where she has served as chair of the firm’s Litigation Department and Business Litigation practice group.Focusing her career in the area of complex commercial litigation, she has significant courtroom experience in both state and federal courts. She has served as trial counsel in antitrust, trade secret, complex business and commercial and product liability cases. She earned both her Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and was admitted to practice in Missouri in 1982 and in Kansas in 2006. In addition, she is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for Kansas and the Western District of Missouri; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th, 8th and 10th circuits; and the United States Supreme Court. She is a member of: The Missouri Bar, where she served on the Board of Governors from 1993-2003 and is a former member of the Trustees of The Missouri Bar; the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association (former member of the Executive Committee); the board of the University of Missouri Law School Foundation; the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City (past president); the State Government Review Commission; the Urban League of Greater Kansas City (former board member, vice-chair and chair); Governor’s Task Force to evaluate the management of the Kansas City public school system; and the Public Safety Task Force. Her honors and recognitions include: “Best of the Bar” for 2011 and 2012 by the Kansas City Business Journal; inclusion in Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers for 2005-2012; AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell; ranked in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Litigation: General Commercial (Kansas City and surrounds) 2004-2013; inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America (2010-2013) in the areas of commercial litigation and litigation securities; and selection as a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America. (Video)
Alan D. Pratzel is the Chief Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Missouri, having been appointed to that post by the Supreme Court in April 2007. As Chief Disciplinary Counsel, he oversees the investigation and disposition of ethical complaints involving attorneys licensed or practicing in Missouri. Pratzel earned his undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis in 1978. As an undergraduate, he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa honor society.He also earned his law degree from Washington University School of Law in 1978, where he was a member of the Law Review. Pratzel practiced law as an associate and partner at Lashly & Baer in St. Louis from 1978 until 2000. His practice included a wide array of legal work on behalf of the law firm’s governmental practice clients. Most significantly, he was responsible for acquiring the property rights for the initial route for St. Louis’s MetroLink light rail system. In 1985, at the request of Lashly & Baer managing partner John Fox Arnold, Pratzel became involved in the attorney discipline system as a Special Representative in the City of St. Louis. He continued to serve in that capacity after opening his own law firm in 2001. Pratzel tried numerous disciplinary cases and was fortunate to be able to brief and argue those cases before the Supreme Court of Missouri. During the course of 22 years, while continuing to engage in the private practice of law, Pratzel’s role within the disciplinary system continued to expand until he was appointed by the Court as Chief Disciplinary Counsel. He continues to brief and argue cases to the Court. Pratzel is a frequent speaker for The Missouri Bar on issues involving legal ethics and professionalism. He is also an adjunct professor of ethics and professionalism at the Washington University School of Law.He and his wife of 37 years, Mae Pratzel, have three children, one grandchild, and one on the way. (Video)
The David J. Dixon Appellate Advocacy Awards were created by The Missouri Bar Foundation to recognize outstanding achievement in appellate practice by young lawyer members of The Missouri Bar. The award is named after the late Judge Dixon, whose tenacity, professionalism and judicial skills epitomize outstanding appellate practice.
Timothy A. Garrison is an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri in Springfield. He is a member of that office’s Drug Task Force, emphasizing the prosecution of interstate and international drug trafficking organizations, as well as related firearms, money laundering, and immigration offenses in U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. Prior to becoming a federal prosecutor in 2007, Garrison spent four years on active duty as a judge advocate and military prosecutor in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his military career, he has had duty stations in Virginia, Rhode Island, California, Iraq, and Japan. He is a recipient of the Award for Excellence in Advocacy from the Army Judge Advocate General’s School, and a distinguished graduate of both the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Warfare School and the Command and Staff College. He continues his military service as a major in the Marine Corps Reserves, where he serves as the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate for the 4th Marine Division. His personal decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and Rifle Expert Badge (3rd Award). He received a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, in political science from Drury University in 1998. He received a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Missouri Truman School of Public Affairs in 2002, where he served as editorial assistant for The American Review of Public Administration. He received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in 2003, where he was a published member of the Missouri Environmental Law & Policy Review. Garrison has served as a deacon and lay worship leader at his church, and on the board of directors for two non-profit organizations in Springfield. He and his wife, Traci, have three children: Silas, Luke, and Selah. (Video)
D. John Sauer is a partner in the St. Louis law firm of Clark & Sauer, L.L.C., which he formed with Stephen R. Clark in the spring of this year. He concentrates in complex business litigation and appellate practice, working with a team of outstanding appellate attorneys to represent clients in courts of appeals across the country. From 2008 to 2013, he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, where he acted as lead counsel for the United States in 19 appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. He presented oral arguments in 12 cases and won a favorable resolution in 18 of 19 cases. Many of his appeals focused on complex questions of federal statutory and constitutional interpretation. His appellate experience includes defending the federal statute banning cyberstalking and gender-motivated harassment from First Amendment challenges, handling numerous appeals dealing with the interpretation of the federal Armed Career Criminal Act, and addressing contested issue of application of the Federal Death Penalty Act. Sauer is a Rhodes Scholar and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. After law school, he served as a law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court and to Judge J. Michael Luttig of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. (Video)
Tom Hershewe works at Dollar, Burns & Becker, L.C., where he practices in the areas of personal injury litigation, bad faith litigation, insurance law, and tractor-trailer collisions. While in private practice, he has written numerous appellate briefs and argued before the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District. He received his law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2005. While in law school, he was a member of the Journal of Dispute Resolution and was inducted into the Order of the Coif. After receiving his law degree, he clerked at the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District, where he received valuable insight into appellate practice by assisting in the preparation of more than 200 opinions and orders. Prior to law school, Hershewe graduated from William Jewell College with degrees in political science and history. While at William Jewell, he was a member of its debate team and coached the University of Missouri-Columbia’s student run team. Licensed in Missouri and Kansas, Hershewe is also a member of the Kansas City Bar Association and the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA). He served on MATA’s amicus committee and wrote an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Missouri Coalition for Quality Care in Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers. He is also a member of the American Association for Justice and the National Trial Lawyers Association, where he serves on its executive committee for insurance bad faith. He has also assisted in compiling the civil procedure section of The Missouri Bar’s Annual Update of the Law, published articles on numerous topics in American Association for Justice newsletters, and recently co-wrote a chapter in the third edition of Truck Accident Litigation. Hershewe is a life-long resident of Kansas City. When not working, he enjoys traveling, grilling and barbecuing on his Big Green Egg, brewing beer, and suffering through Royals and Chiefs games. (Video)
Mary B. Hocker established the Lon O. Hocker Awards in 1954 in memory of her late husband, an outstanding St. Louis trial lawyer. The Missouri Bar Foundation makes the awards annually to young lawyers who have demonstrated unusual proficiency in the art of trial advocacy. Sarah Johnson graduated from Saint Louis University, summa cum laude, in 2006 as a Pre-Law Scholar with a B.A. in political science and Spanish. While in school, she was a member of the SLU women’s soccer team from 2002-2006, and was on the first women’s team to play in the NCAA tournament. She graduated in 2009 from Saint Louis University School of Law, where she was an active member of the moot court and trial teams, as well as an assistant goalkeeper coach for the SLU women’s soccer team. During law school, she volunteered at the Clayton Public Defender’s Office, the St. Louis City Capital Division, and the St. Louis City Trial Office. In 2009, Johnson joined the Missouri Public Defender System and has spent the past four years in the St. Louis City Trial Office. She has tried 18 jury trials and more than 30 juvenile trials during her tenure in the city. Starting in the fall of 2013, she will be an adjunct at SLU School of Law, where she will help coach the competitive trial teams. She is also a member of the Missouri Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative, working to help reduce the number of detained youth in Missouri. (Video)
Molly Hastings is an associate public defender with the Missouri State Public Defender-Kansas City Trial Division.She is originally from the St. Louis area, and attended Truman State University, from which she earned her B.S. in sociology and anthropology in 1997. In 2001, she graduated from the Washington University School of Law, and was chosen as commencement speaker for her class. Upon becoming a member of The Missouri Bar, she began working as an assistant public defender in Rolla in the fall of 2001. In 2003, she transferred to the Kansas City Trial Office, where she currently practices. In her career as a public defender, she has tried more than 39 felony trials as lead counsel and has represented more than 500 clients. She has received 11 acquittals, nine split verdicts, and five verdicts resulting in lesser convictions. Among her 39 trials, she has defended 14 murder cases and 16 serious sex offenses. For years, she has handled a caseload of some of the most serious cases in Kansas City, many of which have been featured on local and even national news broadcasts. In 2009, Hastings was presented with the Charles M. Shaw Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy by the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. This award recognizes criminal defense attorneys who exhibit outstanding trial skills and a passion for trying cases. She is actively involved with her 12-year-old sister, KeAyra, through Big Brothers Big Sisters and lives in Independence with her husband, Jimmy, and their two senior beagles, Katie and Eleanor. (Video)Russell Dempsey is currently serving as the First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney of the Major Crimes Unit with the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s office in Springfield, where he has worked for 10 years.He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice with a minor in psychology from Central Missouri State University. He attended Washburn University School of Law, from which he earned his Juris Doctorate in 2002. Upon graduation from law school, he began working for the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s office in the Traffic Unit. In late 2003, he left the prosecutor’s office to serve as prosecutor and city attorney for the City of Branson. In January 2005, he returned to the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s office in the Crimes Against Persons Unit as an assistant prosecuting attorney. He was later promoted to the position of senior assistant prosecuting attorney, and in 2011 became first assistant prosecuting attorney of the Major Crimes Unit. Dempsey has significant jury trial experience with a variety of criminal charges. In addition to his official duties, he is an instructor at the Springfield Police Academy as a POST-certified instructor. He is currently a member of the Task Force on Gangs and Youth Violence and a former member of the Child Fatality Review Board. This fall, he will begin teaching as an adjunct professor in the psychology department at Missouri State University. He has also been selected to participate in Leadership Springfield’s 2013-2014 class. (Video)
The Spurgeon Smithson Awards were established in 1976 by bequest of the late Mr. Smithson, an outstanding Kansas City lawyer. The Missouri Bar Foundation makes the awards annually to Missouri judges, teachers of law and/or lawyers deemed “to have rendered outstanding service toward the increase and diffusion of justice.”
Michael A. Wolff is dean of the Saint Louis University School of Law. He returned to SLU Law after serving 13 years on the Supreme Court of Missouri.
Judge Wolff was appointed to the Supreme Court of Missouri in August 1998 and served as chief justice for the term of July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2007. In addition to his judicial duties, he served as chair of the Missouri Sentencing Advisory Commission.
After graduating from Dartmouth College, he received his J.D. cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School. For 23 years prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, he served as an assistant, associate and full professor at Saint Louis University School of Law, and has held faculty appointments in the university’s Department of Community Medicine, School of Medicine and the School of the Public Health. He has also been a visiting professor at Sichuan University, Peoples Republic of China. Judge Wolff served as chief counsel to Governor Mel Carnahan from January 1993 to August 1994, and prior to that as his transition director. He was special counsel to the governor from 1994-1998. Early in his career, he served as director of the Black Hills Legal Services in Rapid City, North Dakota, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Denver, an attorney with Legal Assistance of Ramsey County, Minnesota, and a law clerk in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. He also worked as a reporter for the Minneapolis Star during law school from 1967-1970. In 2007, Missouri Lawyers Weekly named Judge Wolff “Lawyer of the Year.” He also received The Missouri Bar’s Theodore McMillian Judicial Excellence Award in 2007; the James C. Kirkpatrick Award from the Northwest Missouri Press Association in 2007; the Distinguished Non-Alumnus Award from the University of Missouri School of Law in 2007; the Joseph E. Stephens “Aspire to Excellence” Award from the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association in 2006; the President’s Award from the Missouri Association of Probate and Associate Circuit Judges in 2006; and the Clarence Darrow Award from the Saint Louis University School of Law Public Interest Law Group in 2004. (Video)Ike Skelton is a partner with the firm of Husch Blackwell in its Washington, D.C. and Kansas City offices, where he advises clients on a variety of legal and public policy issues, especially matters relating to national defense, small business and international trade. Prior to joining the firm, he served as the U.S. Representative from Missouri’s Fourth District from 1977 to 2011. While in Congress, his focus was on issues involving jobs and the economy, the war in Afghanistan, military health insurance reform, and standing up for U.S. men and women in uniform. Skelton also served as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee from 2007 until his departure from Congress. He also served on the Small Business Committee as Subcommittee Chair for Procurement, International Trade and Technology. State voters first chose him to represent them in 1971 for a seat in the Missouri Senate. He held this position until joining the U.S. House in 1977. He began his career when he was elected as a county prosecutor and later served as a Special Assistant Missouri Attorney General. During his congressional career, Skelton was instrumental in the enactment of the Goldwater-Nichols Act, which simplified the chains of command, reduced inter-service rivalries, and implemented shared procurement processes among the branches. He also played an active role in bringing the B-2 stealth bomber to Whiteman Air Force Base and the Army Engineer, Chemical and Military Police Schools to Fort Leonard Wood, both located in Missouri’s Fourth District.As his congressional career neared an end, he drafted and helped institute the Weapons Acquisition Systems Reform Act, reform-minded legislation that overhauls the defense procurement process and provides additional checks against cost overruns and scheduled changes. He received an A.A. degree in 1951 from Wentworth Military Academy and Junior College and his A.B. from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1953. While an undergraduate, he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1956, he earned his LL.B. from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, where he was a member of the Missouri Law Review. He also attended the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. During his career, he has written for a number of publications, and made presentations and speaking engagements on topics that include national security. His professional associations and memberships include: the American Battle Monuments Commission (appointed by President Obama); board of advisors, Center for North America Security; board of directors, EADS North America Corporation; board of trustees, Harry S. Truman Library Foundation; distinguished professor, National Defense University; Blue Ribbon Panel on American National Security, Peter G. Peterson Foundation; board of trustees, State Historical Society of Missouri; and board of director, Defense Legal Policy, U.S. Department of Defense. Skelton’s awards and recognitions include: Academy of Missouri Squires; Air Force Exceptional Service Award; honorary degree, Air University; certificate of appreciation, American Legion Post 129 (2012); Distinguished Eagle Scout; Harry S. Truman Good Neighbor Award (2012); honorary U.S. Marine; certificate of appreciation, Missouri State Highway Patrol (2011); National American Legion Patriot Award (2012); Thayer Award, West Point Military Academy (2012); U.S. Army Distinguished Civilian Service Medal; and U.S. Navy Distinguished Public Service Medal. He is also involved in a number of civic endeavors, such as: President’s Council, American Lung Association; board of directors, Boulder Crest Retreat for Wounded Warriors; Elks Club; First Christian Church in Lexington (former elder); board of trustees, Harry S. Truman Institute; Lions Club; Masonic Bodies; and the Jefferson City NAACP. (Video) Robert G. Russell is a partner in the Sedalia law firm of Kempton & Russell, practicing primarily in the area of personal injury litigation. In addition, he does some criminal defense work, some general practice, and serves as a mediator or arbitrator in civil litigation and as special master appointed by the court. He also performs a substantial amount of judicial and attorney discipline work representing judges and attorneys.Prior to joining that firm in 1986, Russell served for 16 years as a circuit judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit. In addition to general duties as a judge, he was judge of the juvenile court division for 12 years and served for six years as presiding judge. Born in Arkansas, he attended high school at the American School in Manila in the Philippine Islands and the American School in Tokyo, Japan. He graduated from Pacific Grove High School in Pacific Grove, California.From 1955 to 1957, he was on active duty with the U.S. Army and was in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1957 to 1959. He attended Fresno State College, where he was president of the freshman class. He received his undergraduate degree in geology from the University of Kansas in 1960. While there, he participated in volleyball and was named a first team All-American in 1959 and a second team All-American in 1960. He earned his law degree in 1963 from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, where he was president of Phi Delta Phi Law Fraternity. From 1963 to 1964, he was a law clerk for the Honorable Floyd R. Gibson, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. He then joined the Kansas City law firm of Popham, Thompson, Popham, Trusty & Conway before becoming a partner in the Warrensburg firm of Dixon & Russell in 1967. He practiced in Warrensburg as a general practitioner from 1968 until 1970, when Governor Warren Hearnes appointed him to the circuit bench.His bar memberships include the Johnson County Bar Association, the Pettis County Bar Association, The Missouri Bar, the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. He has been active in a variety of professional, charitable and civic endeavors, including: chairman of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association Young Lawyers Section (1967); a member of the Warrensburg Jaycees (1968-1971); a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International (1968-2004); a graduate of the National Judicial College (1971); chairman, Lone Bear District Heart of America Boy Scouts of America (1975); president of the State Trial Judges Association and member of the special committee to re-draft the judicial article of the Missouri Constitution; chairman of the Supreme Court Judicial Evaluation Committee; a member of The Missouri Bar Task Force on Evidence; member of the Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline of Judges; chairman of the Courts and Judiciary Committee of The Missouri Bar; chairman of The Missouri Bar’s Division of Judicial Administration; chairman of The Missouri Bar Professionalism Committee; member of the board of Central Missouri State University; chairman of the Central Missouri State University Banneker Charter School Hearing Panel; member of The Missouri Bar Special Committee on Alternative Billing Methods; and member of the Central Missouri State University Presidential Search Committee. Other memberships include: Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers; member of the American Bar Foundation; associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates; trustee of the Missouri Bar Foundation; member, American Judicature Society; and Fellow, International Society of Barristers. He is listed in Martindale Hubbell’s Preeminent Lawyers of America and is a trustee of the Missouri Supreme Court Historical Society, as well as a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society. His honors and recognitions include: receipt of the Lon O. Hocker Trial Lawyer Award from the Missouri Bar Foundation (1970); named as one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Top Ten Lawyers for 2003”; the University of Central Missouri Distinguished Service Award; and membership in the Sports Hall of Fame at the University of Central Missouri. Judge Russell and his late wife, Sandra, have three children: Robert, who practices with his father at the firm of Kempton & Russell; Randall, an independent insurance agency in Warrensburg; and Elizabeth, who lives in Jupiter, Florida. (Video)
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