Award winners: Legal spotlight shines brightly on honorees at OCBA meeting


By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

It what has become a yearly occasion to formally express “thanks,” the Annual Meeting of the Oakland County Bar Association on June 4 served as an opportunity to salute a host of honorees from the local legal community.

This year, of course, the traditional presentation of awards took on an altered form thanks to the pandemic, according to Keefe Brooks, the incoming president of the OCBA.

“Since the Annual Meeting was conducted via Zoom, we only were able to announce the list of winners and the 40-year honorees,” Brooks indicated. “We hope to be able to hold the traditional awards ceremony in October if the pandemic has subsided by then.”

Still, the June 4 event highlighted the presentation of nine awards, recognizing the exceptional volunteer efforts of distinguished members of the bench and bar.

Among the honorees was attorney Kari Melkonian, who was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, the most coveted honor presented each year by the OCBA. An attorney with Collins Einhorn, Melkonian has been an active member of the OCBA for the past 12 years and currently is a member of its board of directors. She also serves on the Circuit Court and Inns of Court committees, and previously was a member of Nominating Committee, New Lawyers Committee, and Mentor Program. In addition, Melkonian volunteers as a discovery mediator and as a case evaluator in Oakland County Circuit Court.

Retired Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Alice Gilbert, who spent 24 years on the bench, was the 2020 winner of the Distinguished Career Achievement Award.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Lisa Gorcyca, who has served two terms on the bench following a 15-year career as an assistant prosecutor, was honored at the Annual Meeting with the Distinguished Public Servant Award. The co-winner of the award was her colleague on the Circuit Court bench, Judge Lisa Langton, who is completing her first term in office. Langton previously served eight years as deputy court administrator/juvenile register.

The recipient of this year’s Lakeshore Legal Aid Pro Bono Award was attorney Francine Snyder.

Tanya Cripps, a real estate attorney with Olympia Development of Michigan, was honored with the Bonnie L. Beutler Outstanding New Lawyer Award from the OCBA.

Also in the spotlight at the Annual Meeting was attorney Elizabeth Hohauser, an OCBA board member who was honored with the Professionalism Award. The award is presented annually to those who exemplify the “highest standards of professionalism and/or judicial practice.”

Garth Wooten, division manager of the Veterans Services Division for Oakland County, was the winner of the S. Gerald Gorcyca Meritorious Service to Veterans Award.

Daniel Cojanu, of the Canine Advocacy Program, was honored with the Allene and Martin Doctoroff Liberty Bell Award. The honor is presented annually to a non-lawyer who promotes a better understanding of the U.S. Constitution, encourages greater respect for the law and the courts, and whose community activity has strengthened the American system of justice.

The Committee of the Year Award was presented to the Paralegal Committee of the OCBA, a panel chaired by Leanne Tarasiewicz. Vice chair of the Paralegal Committee is Sara Brish.

Forty-nine members of the bar reached the 40-year milestone this year, including the incoming president of the OCBA, Keefe Brooks, a University of Michigan Law School alum who also earned his bachelor’s degree from U-M.

Also receiving special recognition for their legal longevity were: Tracy Lee Allen, Thomas H. Bergh, Philip R. Blanchard, Thomas G. Cardelli, John C. Cashen, Thomas R. Charboneau, James P. Cunningham, Carol L. Fossee, David A. French, George H. Glassman, Alan M. Greene, George W. Gregory, Irene Bruce Hathaway, Jeffrey S. Hayes, Beverly M. Helm, William H. Horton, Jeffrey L. Hudson, William Clay Hurley, Joel H. Kaufman, Paul Alan Keller, Daniel P. King, Loraine R. Kuhn, Peter B. Kupelian, D.B. Landry, Gregory R. Lane, Kevin S. Macaddino, Wayne J. Miller, and E. Michael Morris.

Other 40-year honorees included: Robert W. Palmer, William G. Pierson, Michael A. Pivoz, Beth M. Rivers, Frank A. Scerbo, Craig S. Schoenherr, Michael J. Solner, William L. Spern, Richard A. Sundquist, David M. Thoms, John R. Trentacosta, Donald E. Walker, Daniel J. Weiner, Harvey R. Weingarden, Steven J. Weiss, Robert Y. Weller, Robert F. White, Allen M. Wolf, and David F. Zuppke.


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