The Jacksonville Bar Association’s annual Law Day luncheon was a study in contrast.
The keynote address recounted the past in terms of the genesis of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, this year’s Law Day theme adopted by the American Bar Association.
On the other hand, the recipients of the Lawyer of the Year and Liberty Bell awards presented at the meeting were focused on the future.
“Nowhere in the Constitution are individual rights so forcibly protected than in the 14th Amendment,” said Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Susan Black, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
She said the amendment was born during some of the greatest changes in American history.
“One would think it was written after peaceful debate and quiet contemplation,” Black said, but it was rather a time of “upheaval and immense change.”
Ratified July 9, 1868, the amendment specifically addresses citizenship rights and equality under the law.
It was inspired by the need to establish and then preserve the rights of former slaves during Reconstruction after the Civil War, when the federal government and Southern states were at odds over how to rebuild the country.
Black said from 1845 to 1853, the geographical size and population of America more than doubled. By 1860, more than 4 million of the nation’s 31 million residents were immigrants.
Also during the period, the railroad network was extended from the East to the West Coast, and between 1830 and 1861, the telegraph system went from non-existent to connecting all the major cities coast-to-coast.
“In 30 years, the country had begun to resemble the modern world” and “out of these tumultuous times came the 14th Amendment,” Black said.
Its relevance has stood the test of time, with 12 of the 81 cases heard in the past year by the U.S. Supreme Court citing the 14th Amendment, she said.
“It is the bulwark against infringement of individual rights 150 years after it was written,” said Black.
City Council member Anna Lopez Brosche introduced Pam Paul, recipient of the JBA’s Liberty Bell Award in honor of her years of work on behalf of children and her current efforts to encourage more women to seek public office.
The American Bar Association established the award more than 30 years ago to recognize the work of someone who is not an attorney, but who has supported the legal community.
Each voluntary legal organization is allowed to establish its own criteria for the annual recognition. The JBA Board of Governors adopted criteria including stimulating a sense of civic responsibility or contributing to good government in the community.
After she moved from New York to Jacksonville in 1959, Paul began working in support of protecting the interests of children. She helped establish the Children’s Crisis Center that led to the Jacksonville Children’s Commission.
In 2012, Paul helped establish “nine in ’15,” what she described as a “nonpartisan, unincorporated organization” that encouraged qualified women to run for the nine open seats on the council in the 2015 election.
Women gained only one of the seats, so she and colleagues are expanding the effort, including through Leadership Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association.
Paul said she shares the award with all the women involved in the organization and added “nine in ’15 will continue. 2019 is just around the corner.”
Terrell Hogan law firm partner Alan Pickert received the 32nd annual Lawyer of the Year Award from the Financial News & Daily Record.
Former Publisher Jim Bailey, who sold the newspaper in January, cited Pickert’s commitment to helping children with autism and their families through the Healing Every Autistic Life Foundation.
After declaring he didn’t feel he deserved the award, Pickert used his time at the podium to encourage the legal community to support a new philanthropy: EvansHope.org. It’s an effort to strike out ALS, the disease that struck down baseball player Lou Gehrig 75 years ago and has now stricken Terrell Hogan partner Evan Yegelwel.
The organization is selling tickets on its website to Sunday’s Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp vs. Mississippi Braves game at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, as well as collecting donations that will go to the ALS Association Florida chapter.
“All net proceeds from tickets we sell go to fight ALS. We’ve set $100,000 as our goal,” Pickert said.