Assembly to honor three award winners on Sept. 20

The State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly will present its Michael Franck and Unsung Hero awards to three outstanding members of the legal community on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.

The presentation will take place during the assembly's general session, which is being held in conjunction with the SBM Annual Meeting.

Judge James H. Fisher has won the Michael Franck award. As Barry County Circuit Court judge from 1995 to 2011, he transformed the court into a model for the state.

His charitable work has helped hundreds of adults and children in need. In 2010, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Fisher as chair of the Michigan Indigent Defense Advisory Commission (IDAC).

Judy B. Calton will take home an Unsung Hero award for her plan to create a nonprofit fund to subsidize attorneys representing debtors who could not otherwise afford a lawyer. She set up the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Access to Bankruptcy Court, and then found a way to fund it.

After obtaining a $10,000 grant for start-up costs, she held a fundraiser that included a silent auction, which included about 50 bottles of wine from her own private collection, and raised nearly $5,000.

Commercial litigator Jeffrey S. Kopp is also an Unsung Hero. While on assignment in Iraq as a member of the Army and JAGS Corps, Kopp safeguarded the rights of detainees and worked with Red Cross officials to assure that captives were receiving humane treatment under the Geneva Convention. Foley & Lardner Managing Partner Daljit Doogal said Kopp's work for the detainees "helped erase the stain of Abu Ghraib."

Following his return from Iraq, Kopp began volunteering more than 100 hours a year. Among other things, he heads up a program serving reserve members and their families in Michigan and Ohio, and volunteers as a lawyer for Project Salute, a pro bono program of the University of Detroit Mercy Law School that travels throughout Michigan offering free legal advice to low-income veterans on federal veterans' disability and pension benefits claims.

Published: Mon, Sep 10, 2012