Thursday, March 6, 2008
Public Defender Michael P. Judge Named an Attorney of the Year
By a MetNews Staff Writer
California Lawyer magazine has recognized Los Angeles County Public Defender Michael P. Judge as one of its California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year.
The magazine named Judge and California Congressman George Miller co-recipients of the award for their efforts in passing the federal College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which makes it easier for freshly minted lawyers to take relatively low-paying jobs in the public sector by extending the repayment period of student loans and forgiving the unpaid balance after ten years of public service.
The law, which became effective after President Bush signed it last September, marked the largest increase in student aid since the GI Bill of 1944 and appropriates more than $20 billion to cut interest rates on federal student loans and increase grant aid for low-income students.
Miller, who chairs the House Committee on Education and Labor and who has represented the 7th District of California in the East Bay of San Francisco in Congress since 1975, was the bill’s sponsor and guided its progress through Congress. He had made the legislation a top priority since at least 2001, when he became the senior Democrat on the committee.
Judge’s role included putting together a lobbying effort that included public-interest lawyers from across the country and submitting testimony on behalf of the bill. He also met with more than two dozen senators and members of Congress in Washington, D.C., and California.
Judge and Miller were two of 34 attorneys around the state the magazine named to receive its twelfth annual CLAY Awards. Recognizing 22 accomplishments in 16 areas of legal practice, the magazine said that the attorneys’ “achievements had a significant impact in 2007, or their work is expected to have such an effect in the coming years.”
Other local attorneys honored by the magazine include David Bigelow and Graham LippSmith of Girardi & Keese for litigation; Raymond Boucher of Kiesel, Boucher & Larson for litigation; Marty Katz of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton for entertainment law; Susan J. DeWitt, Robert E. Dugdale and Kim Meyer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California for criminal law; and Chuck D. Naylor for personal injury.
Bigelow and LippSmith were recognized for securing a $12.5 million verdict for three plaintiffs who had been sexually abused for several years by employees of Masonic Homes of California in Covina.
Boucher was recognized for his work as liaison-counsel for an overlapping group of plaintiffs’ attorneys representing clients in hundreds of clergy sexual-abuse cases coordinated in two separate proceedings.
DeWitt, Dugdale and Meyer were recognized for obtaining murder convictions and death sentences for two members of a Russian kidnapping-murder ring who orchestrated the deaths of five Russian immigrants in Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002.
Naylor was recognized along with attorneys Scott P. Nealey and Robert J. Nelson of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein in San Francisco for obtaining $50 million in punitive damages and $5.2 million in compensatory damages against DaimlerChrysler for the wrongful death of a 38-year-old longshoreman who suffered fatal injuries when the Dodge Dakota he had been driving ran him over after he left the vehicle.
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