Twenty-one lawyers, including Jacksonville’s Chad Roberts, received The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for their commitment to providing free legal services to the poor.
The awards were presented last week in a ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee.
The award was established in 1981 as a way to recognize individual lawyers within Florida’s judicial circuits who are committed to providing free legal services to the poor. The term “pro bono,” derived from the Latin phrase “pro bono publico,” means “for the good of the public.” In 2003-04, Florida lawyers donated more than 1.4 million pro bono hours and $3.7 million dollars in monetary contributions.
The 21 recipients:
First Judicial Circuit
Steve E. Quinnell, Pensacola - Quinnell has served as a volunteer primary instructor at the First Circuit’s Guardianship Education Course since its inception in 1990. He regularly represents Lutheran Services guardianship services, and other guardians, and frequently handles cases for wards who are indigent, or who later become indigent. He usually has 10-15 indigent cases at anytime.
Second Judicial Circuit
Martin R. Dix, Tallahassee - Dix is a shareholder in the Tallahassee office of Akerman Senterfitt. He has handled a variety of pro bono cases, both through the Tallahassee Bar Association’s Legal Aid Organization and through matters he has taken on himself. He has handled more than 20 foreign adoptions on a pro bono basis and developed pro se adoption forms for parents.
Third Judicial Circuit
Nancy C. Holliday-Fields, Lake City - Holliday-Fields is the family court manager for the Third Circuit and the drug court coordinator. After moving to Florida in 1993, Holliday-Fields volunteered at the Seventh Circuit guardian ad litem office and established its family law guardian ad litem program. She began accepting pro bono cases from Three Rivers Legal Services Inc. and is currently the board president. Holliday-Fields was instrumental in establishing the Family Law Assistance and Self Help Project jointly with Three Rivers and the clerks of court within the Third Circuit.
Fourth Judicial Circuit
Chad S. Roberts, Jacksonville - Roberts is an officer and director of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. His extensive pro bono efforts through the years have included numerous litigation matters involving physical abuse of detained prisoners in local detention facilities, protracted ADA and Federal Fair Housing Act litigation on behalf of the local chapters of the National Association for the Mentally Ill, and predatory lending and consumer fraud activities preying on military service families.
Fifth Judicial Circuit
D. Patrick Dalton, Ocala - In addition to working for Legal Services for almost seven years, in 2003 Dalton spent more than 250 pro bono hours on pro se divorce clinics. After leaving Legal Services, he took a one year sabbatical and performed more than 500 hours of family pro bono law work from his home. While he was an associate with Trow, Appleget, and Perry, he averaged more than 300 pro bono hours per year. Dalton performed more than 300 hours of pro bono work in the first nine months of 2004.
Sixth Judicial Circuit
James M. Vanderplas, Indian Rocks Beach - Since 1982, Vanderplas has donated a minimum of four hours per week to the Gulfcoast Legal Services’s Clearwater office. He conducts interviews of prospective clients, obtaining all information necessary for representation by the staff attorneys. In all, Vanderplas has donated approximately 4,500 hours to pro bono activity in 22 years of volunteer service.
Seventh Judicial Circuit
Diego Handel, Daytona Beach - Handel has performed his pro bono work primarily through the Community Legal Service of Mid-Florida and the Volunteer Lawyers Project in Daytona Beach; The Florida Bar under the Disaster Relief Program; and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. Handel has rendered legal assistance at evening advice clinics sponsored by the Volunteer Lawyers Project, providing assistance in domestic and consumer law, and representing a number of pro bono cases. In addition, Handel works on a pro bono basis with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.
Eighth Judicial Circuit
Joseph S. Jackson, Gainesville - Jackson is a legal skills professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Heckson serves as an advocate for the homeless and for homeless service providers. He rides with the HOME Van, a mobile outreach soup throughout Gainesville. He has provided pro bono representation in legal matters, and has lobbied local officials.
Ninth Judicial Circuit
James M. Magee, Orlando - Magee volunteers through the Orange County Bar Association Legal Aid Society as a guardian ad litem. Magee has been volunteering as a guardian ad litem since 1974. He has represented more than 100 children during that time.
Tenth Judicial Circuit
Beth Harlan, Lakeland - In her pro bono service, Harlan has been active assisting children who have been placed in the care of the state of Florida. She has acted as a guardian ad litem in many cases, sometimes for children who are in the foster care system but whose needs are not simply met with standard services. Harlan is also a volunteer hearing officer for the Polk County Code Enforcement Board.
Eleventh Judicial Circuit
Matthew P. Coglianses, Miami - Coglianese has worked with children, from Big Brothers Big Sisters during his college years, to volunteering in dependency court for the last two years. His work with Lawyers for Children has evolved into de facto “big brother” relationships with the children. He continues to work as a pro bono advocate for disadvantaged children.
Twelfth Judicial Circuit
Jaqulyn Mack, Englewood - Mack has donated numerous hours of pro bono service to the Legal Aid of Manasota and to Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc. Mack takes cases no one else will, including ones involving abuse and drugs, focusing on the welfare of the children who are the products of these environments. She has also served as a guardian ad litem. Mack is also a Teen Court judge, participated as a lawyer in the Charlotte County Mock Trial 2004, and co-chairs the Venice-Englewood Law Week.
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit
Kathleen S. McLeroy, Tampa - McLeroy is a shareholder with Carlton Fields, P.A. McLeroy is chair of Carlton Fields’s Pro Bono Committee and a member and committee executive with the Hillsborough County Bar Association and the American Bar Association. McLeroy serves on the board of directors of The Florida Bar Foundation and Bay Area Legal Services, Inc., of which she also served as past president. She periodically serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Tampa.
Fourteenth Judicial Circuit
William R. Garrett, Panama City - Garrett was involved with the Bay County Bar Association’s First Saturday Legal Clinic and has twice served as co-chair. He continues to devote many hours each year to pro bono activities through programs and also individually.
Fifteenth Judicial Circuit
Aileen S. Josephs, West Palm Beach - Josephs worked for Florida Rural Legal Services Inc., as the immigration attorney for Palm Beach County. In 1995, Josephs went into private practice concentrating in immigration, nationality, and consular law. She has also helped on a pro bono basis for more than 40 undocumented and abandoned immigrant children. Many of these children are Guatemalan Mayan. One of her most notable cases was the Petrona Tomas case.
Sixteenth Judicial Circuit
Linda B. Wheeler, Key West - Wheeler’s pro bono service includes providing mediation and counseling services for indigent families, preparation of powers of attorney, living wills and designations of health care surrogate for the elderly, and representation in family law matters and guardianship cases in Monroe County.
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit
Joanne Fanizza, Ft. Lauderdale - Fanizza began pro bono work in 1995, assisting a Ft. Lauderdale-based HIV treatment facility with a variety of legal matters, and accepting cases from Broward Lawyers Care. Fanizza has assisted BLC clients with estate planning, going to hospitals and homes when necessary to meet with clients and execute documents. She has helped the physically and mentally handicapped with guardianship and collections matters. She also provides free legal assistance to Abandoned Pet Rescue Inc.
Eighteenth Judicial Circuit
Kenneth F. Tworoger, Micco - Tworoger spends much of his time as a volunteer legal advisor to nonprofit environmental and community assistance organizations, high school mock trial teams, and as a pro bono attorney with Brevard County Legal Aid, where he concentrates on consumer and housing matters. After the hurricanes of 2004, Tworoger, through Brevard County Legal Aid, provided legal assistance for housing related issues at the FEMA hurricane disaster center in South Brevard County and was a panelist at a workshop for organizations involved with disaster relief.
Nineteenth Judicial Circuit
Deborah M. Hooker, Okeechobee - Hooker is currently serving as a magistrate for the Nineteenth Circuit assigned to Okeechobee and Martin counties. From 1993 to 2004, Hooker donated more than 350 hours in pro bono services for legal cases or matters, and donated more than 2,300 hours to public service activities. Although no longer in private practice, Hooker has sustained her commitment to providing pro bono legal services by continuing to serve on the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee, of which she has been a member since 2002.
Twentieth Judicial Circuit
Michael I. Miller, Sanibel - Miller’s pro bono efforts have included serving as a volunteer attorney with the Ft. Myers office of Florida Rural Legal Services where he represented clients involving various legal issues. In his private practice his pro bono efforts have included public benefits eligibility and guardianship representation.
Richard A. Horder, Atlanta - Horder has been involved in pro bono matters for his entire career, having served numerous terms on the board of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and as president. He chairs the firm’s Pro Bono Committee and created the Grandparent Adoption Program, a joint project with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. This program has represented more than 140 relative caregivers in adoption proceedings donating more than 8,000 hours and positively impacting hundreds of children’s lives. Horder is also responsible for the creation of the first pro bono partner position in a Georgia firm, which was filled in 2001 resulting in the firm’s annual pro bono hours increasing from approximately 8,000 in 2000 to more than 25,000 hours presently.
Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award: Indian Rocks Beach attorney James M. “Van” Vanderplas.
Distinguished Judicial Service Award: Judge William A. Van Nortwick, Jr. of Tallahassee.
Law Firm Commendation Award: The Dunedin law firm of Barrett and Barrett.
Voluntary Bar Pro Bono Service Award: Clearwater Bar Association.
Young Lawyers Division Pro Bono Award: Attorney Melanie Damian of Miami.