NHAJ annually honors those who have helped to advance our mission of justice for all with several annual awards: the Civil Justice Award, the Granite State Advocate Award, the Board of Governor’s Award the President’s Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award.
This year NHAJ celebrated our award recipients with a virtual ceremony on Thursday, June 3, 2021.
This year our 2021 Award Recipients and the reason for their honors are listed below. Please congratulate them and thank them for their hard work advancing our mission and improving justice for all in our state.
Thomas R. Watson Board of Governors Award
The Board of Governors Award is presented to a member or associate member of NHAJ who has demonstrated exemplary support of the Association and its goals over an extended period of time through the volunteering of his or her time and expertise and/or financial support.
The award this year is presented to Anthony Sculimbrene of Gill & Sculimbrene. Since joining NHAJ in 2016, Tony has testified many times before the legislature and has established a reputation among legislators as someone they can call if a legislator has a question about the law. Tony thinks quickly on his feet, takes as many meetings with legislators as often as he can, and is one of the first to respond to calls for help with legislative efforts. Tony background and education has made him very effective at increasing public education of what we do as trial lawyers.
Civil Justice Award
The Civil Justice Award was established in 1996 to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to the goals for which the New Hampshire Association for Justice was established, namely, “to promote the administration of justice for the public good,…to uphold the honor and dignity of the profession of law,…to uphold the right of trial by jury,…to preserve and enhance the rights of persons to have access to the Courts and our system of justice,…and to afford everyone a full, fair and timely remedy for wrongs done.“ In short, this award recognizes outstanding commitment to the improvement and preservation of the American civil justice system. The award is not limited to members of the NHAJ or even to attorneys.
NHAJ is honored to present this award to the Honorable Gary E. Hicks, Justice of the NH Supreme Court for his career helping preserve public access to courts and running the Supreme Court and Judicial Branch without a Chief Justice to ensure access to justice continued during the pandemic.
Granite State Advocate Award
Special recognition is given periodically to attorneys in New Hampshire who, in the course of zealously representing their clients, pursue and help achieve substantive changes in the law of the state which improve our civil justice system, enhance the rights of citizens’ access to the courts, preserve the right of trial by jury or enhance the right of everyone to attain full, fair and timely remedies for civil wrongs.
This year NHAJ is presenting two awards to the following teams:
Israel F. Piedra, Paul Twomey, William R. Christie, S. Amy Spencer and Hon. Robert R. “Renny” Cushing for their work in Cushing v. Packard, ____ F.3d ____ (1st Cir. April 8, 2021)
These lawyers and their firms successfully challenged in the First Circuit Court of Appeals the refusal of the Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives to allow members of the House whose medical conditions made them vulnerable to serious illness or death if exposed to covid-19 to participate remotely in House sessions resulting in a ruling that the doctrine of legislative immunity does not shield the Speaker from the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.
Nathan P. Warecki, Marx P. Calderon, Colin T. Missett, W. Scott O’Connell, W. Daniel Deane, Michael E. Strauss, Gilles R. Bissonnette, Henry R. Klementowicz, Sang Yeob Kim, Ronald L. Abramson, Emily A. White, Cathy J. Green, Timothy C. Ayer, Henry C. Quillen, Laurel M. Gilbert and John P. Newman for their work in Gomes v. Acting Secretary ( USDC-NH 2020)
This litigation team represented medically vulnerable immigration detainees being held at the Strafford County House of Corrections during the Covid-19 pandemic. These detainees were not being held on criminal charges; they are civil detainees awaiting resolution of their immigration cases. The question presented was whether these individuals were entitled to bail hearings pending rulings on the merits of their constitutional claims. The Court answered that question in the affirmative for those detainees who have medical conditions (or are of an age) that renders them particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. As part of the Court’s order, it found that the Strafford County House of Corrections should have immediately been able to classify which detainees were high-risk but had failed to do so and failed to offer any explanation for this failure. The Court also found that the Strafford County House of Corrections had failed to taken steps to alleviate the known substantial risk that COVID-19 presents to individuals who fall within high-risk categories due to their age or medical conditions. The Court also found no evidence that the Strafford County House of Corrections was implementing or will implement additional measures to protect the now known high-risk detainees who remain in custody until it was forced to do so as a result of this lawsuit.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The NHAJ Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to an individual who provides outstanding service and dedication to the NH Legal System over the course of their lifetime.
This year NHAJ has chosen the Honorable. John T. Broderick, Jr. for this award for his work improving access to justice as Chief Justice of the Judicial Branch and his current work raising awareness and working to eliminate the stigma of mental health problems. He is a past president of our organization and a trial lawyer and has certainly dedicated his career to these issues.
The President’s Award is given annually to the individual who, in the opinion of the President, has been of outstanding service to the Association and of particular help to the President of the year of the award. The award is not limited to members of the Association but may be presented to anyone who assists the Association in achieving its objectives for that year.
The 2021 President’s Award is presented to Paul Chant of Cooper Cargill Chant, PA. One who provides outstanding service to whatever he is involved in, that is Paul Chant. It is not the first time that he has won this award –that in and of itself speaks volumes about him. When trying to decide if we would even hold a holiday charitable fund raiser this year, there were lots of people skeptical about doing so during a pandemic. Typically we raise money by auctioning donated items at our Holiday dinner - but with no dinner how would this work – Paul stepped up and said we don’t need to do an auction, we just have to appeal to people and ask them to support their communities and neighbors that would be the ultimate beneficiaries. Paul spearheaded the effort and NHAJ raised over $8,000.00. Paul was also instrumental in advising on membership issues and testifying at the legislature. For these and many other reasons Paul Chant is the recipient of this year’s President’s Award.
Access to the courts is now barred for more than 60 million American workers
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