Recipients honored at TBA convention in Chattanooga
NASHVILLE, July 14, 2011 — A select group of Tennessee lawyers were honored for their work in serving the legal profession and the public during the Tennessee Bar Association's recent convention in Chattanooga. Award recipients include Judge John J. Maddux Jr. of Cookeville, Howard H. Vogel of Knoxville, Taylor C. Berger of Memphis, Harold L. North of Chattanooga and Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur of Nashville.
Drowota Judicial Service Award
Cookeville Circuit Court Judge John J. Maddox Jr. was honored with the association's Justice Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award. The award is given to a judge or judicial branch official of a federal, state or local court in Tennessee who has demonstrated extraordinary devotion and dedication to the improvement of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice as exemplified by the career of former Supreme Court Justice Frank F. Drowota III -- the award's first recipient.
Since 1984, Maddux has served as circuit court judge in the 13th Judicial District, which includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam and White counties. Prior to serving on the bench, he practiced civil and criminal law in Cookeville. Maddux's contributions to the legal system include serving as president of the Tennessee Judicial Conference and the Tennessee Trial Judges Association, and as chair of the Tennessee Judicial Conference Foundation Board of Directors.
Maddux also has been active in the community, serving as chair of the Tennessee American Legion Boys State program for 32 years. Under his leadership, nearly 20,000 young men have participated in the program. A Boys State delegate himself, Maddux organized a judicial branch program for the organization, wrote a book on Tennessee government that is given to each participant, and has been instrumental in bringing the Supreme Court's oral arguments to the statewide program for the past 10 years.
William M. Leech Jr. Public Service Award
Knoxville lawyer Howard H. Vogel received the William M. Leech Jr. Public Service Award for his service to the practice of law, the bar and the profession. Given annually by the TBA Young Lawyers Division Fellows, the award is named for former Attorney General William M. Leech and honors a lawyer who has given outstanding service to the profession, legal system and the community.
Vogel is an attorney with O'Neil, Parker & Williamson where he focuses on mediating civil cases. Throughout his career, he has mediated over 1,500 disputes and is a frequent lecturer on mediation techniques and the ethical issues involved in mediation. He is a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 civil mediator and board certified by the American Academy of ADR Attorneys. He also is a fellow and board member of the International Academy of Mediators, a member of the mediation panel for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and a past member of the Tennessee Supreme Court's Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission.
In addition to excelling in his profession, Vogel has made service to the bar a hallmark of his career. He has served as a board member and president of both the Knoxville Bar Association and the Tennessee Bar Association and president of the TBA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) and TBA YLD Fellows. He also has served as chair of the Tennessee Bar Foundation Board of Trustees and is a member of the Founders of the Supreme Court of Tennessee Historical Society.
Beyond the borders of Tennessee, Vogel has been active in the American Bar Association as a member of the ABA Board of Governors, the House of Delegates and a variety of ABA entities including the Task Force on Outreach to the Public, Committee on Public Education, Commission on Public Understanding of the Law and the Board of Editors for the ABA Journal.
Justice Joseph W. Henry Award
Memphis lawyer Taylor C. Berger received the Justice Joseph W. Henry Award for the most outstanding article published in the Tennessee Bar Journal during 2010. He was recognized for his article "Unpublished Opinions in Tennessee," which was published in the July 2010 issue of the magazine. He also won a cash prize of $500.
Berger earned his law degree in 2007 from the University of Memphis School of Law and his master of law in taxation in 2008 from the University of Washington. At the time he wrote the article, he was an associate with Williams, McDaniel, Wolfe & Womack PC in Memphis, where he focused his practice on estate planning, taxation and probate administration and litigation.
Berger is the founding director of the Memphis Area Legal Services Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, a federal grant-funded project that represents low-income taxpayers before the IRS and U.S. Tax Court. He is licensed to practice law in Tennessee and Mississippi.
The Justice Joseph W. Henry Award, established in 1981, is given each year to encourage practicing Tennessee lawyers to write scholarly yet practical articles for the benefit of their colleagues. The award recipient is selected by a committee of three: the president of the Tennessee Bar Association, the chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court and the dean of one of the state's law schools. This year, the judges were TBA President Sam Elliott, Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Connie Clark and University of Tennessee College of Law Dean Doug Blaze.
Each year the TBA president designates certain individuals to be honored for their work during his year in office. This year two awards were presented.
Harold L. North, an attorney with Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC in Chattanooga, was recognized for serving as chair of the TBA's Special Committee on Foreclosure Procedure. The committee, created by TBA President Sam Elliott, was charged with examining the procedures employed when homeowners default on their home loans and enter foreclosure. Under North's leadership, the committee held seven meetings, bringing together diverse interests within the bar -- lawyers for lenders, consumer lawyers, lawyers who handle bankruptcy, and real estate specialists. The group was able to achieve consensus that Tennessee's foreclosure procedures could be streamlined, a better system of notice to bidders could be developed, and several best practices could be implemented. The committee's recommendations were adopted by the TBA House of Delegates and Board of Governors, and two of the suggestions were included in recently enacted legislation to reform the system.
North is a member of his firm's litigation section and focuses his practice on bankruptcy, creditors' rights and business litigation. He formerly served as president of the Chattanooga Bar Association, Chattanooga Rotary Club and Big Brother/Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga.
In addition, Nashville lawyer Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur was recognized for her work chairing the TBA's Public Education Committee. Under her leadership, the committee launched a new civics competition for middle and high school students. The first-ever YouTube video contest encouraged students to explore the state's rich legal history and create a three-minute video to tell the story of an event, circumstance or person that played an important role in the state's legacy of law and liberty. Student submissions covered such diverse topics as the Scopes Trial, Tennessee's labor laws, the children's reform movement in Memphis, desegregation of Clinton High School, political reform in McMinn County and the U.S. Supreme Court case of Baker v. Carr.
Ramsaur has worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee for more than 23 years. She is the chief of the Criminal Division and supervises 20 attorneys who are responsible for prosecuting violations of federal criminal law - from white-collar fraud cases, including health care fraud, ponzi schemes, and bank, mail and wire fraud to major drug trafficking, violent crimes and racketeering cases. She is a past chair of the Nashville Bar Association's Federal Court Committee, member of the Tennessee Bar Association's Ethics and Professionalism Standing Committee, member of the Sixth Circuit Pattern Jury Instruction Committee and a fellow of the Nashville Bar Association.
Retiring Board Members
Finally, outgoing TBA President Sam Elliott recognized members of the TBA Board of Governors who were completing their service. They are:
- Immediate Past President Gail Vaughn Ashworth; Wiseman Ashworth Law Group; Nashville
- Fifth District Governor David A. Changas; Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop PC; Nashville
- District Attorneys General Conference Representative David Michael Dunavant; District Attorney General; Ripley
- Tennessee Judicial Conference President and Chancellor Thomas "Skip" Frierson; 3rd Judicial District; Morristown
- Second District Governor Jack H. "Nick" McCall; Tennessee Valley Authority; Knoxville
- District Public Defenders Conference President Gerald L. Melton, 16th Judicial District Public Defender; Murfreesboro
- General Counsel William L. Harbison; Sherrard & Roe PLC; Nashville
For photographs or additional biographical information on any these award winners, please contact the TBA at (615) 383-7421.