Donald J Horowitz
Significant moments can occur at any moment in life; they may inspire, rankle or drive us for some larger purpose. For retired judge, mediator and 2016 Goldmark Award honoree, Donald J Horowitz, one such moment occurred in a Brooklyn dentist’s office in 1945. The 8-year-old Horowitz read an article in Harper’s magazine, “Our Worst Wartime Mistake,” by Eugene Rostow, and was struck by the injustice of sending Japanese-Americans to internment camps while simultaneously fighting to free others from them.
Born to an immigrant Jewish family from Belarus in 1936, Horowitz thrived in Brooklyn’s ethnically diverse neighborhood, but there were hardships, too. His father was stricken with polio when his mother was pregnant with their fifth child.
“He survived being in an iron lung, but there were days when I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from,” he said. His mother, Libby Horowitz, didn’t have the chance to go to school, but insisted her children graduate college.
At a time when employment quotas for minorities were common, Horowitz got a summer job at an oil refinery — the first Jewish person to be hired there. “I was told by the boss, ‘You’re our Jackie Robinson,’” he said. “At the time, two black men worked there, too, and they were kind to me. They took me out for beers and gave me advice. That was an important part of my education.”
After finishing undergraduate studies at Columbia, Horowitz — a great admirer of legendary lawyer Clarence Darrow — chose the law. “My parents drove me up to Yale and we walked around the law school,” he said. “I can still picture my father caressing the oak walls. This was a different world for them.”
After graduation, Horowitz travelled west to Olympia to clerk for Justice Harry Ellsworth Foster, who taught him to put his ideals into action through a strong work ethic. Horowitz went on to join a small husband-and-wife firm in Olympia and travelled the back roads doing everything from boundary disputes to divorces and car accidents.
By the late 1990s, Horowitz was part of the access to justice movement when he read an article by the King County law librarian calling for a technology “bill of rights” to ensure technology didn’t become a barrier to justice. “If we just let it happen [the digital divide] will perpetuate exclusions,” Horowitz said.
After a multi-year process of working with stakeholders, the Washington State Access to Justice Technology Principles were adopted by order of the state Supreme Court.
As a board member at the Fred Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at Seattle University, Horowitz supported a proposal to grant honorary degrees, many posthumously, to SU students interned during WWII. Horowitz recalled the 2011 commencement ceremony in Key Arena when the names were read and the crowd rose to its feet to give a standing ovation.
“I was overwhelmed by the joy and celebration — and by sadness — for these people who had long deserved an act of recognition,” Horowitz said, “but my own tears were partially tears of gratitude that both the 8-year-old boy and the 74-year-old man he became, could be part of that experience.”
When one meets Mark Hutcheson — prominent employment attorney and Goldmark Award honoree — it’s easy to see he relishes a challenge. From moving across country for college, switching from tax law to the nascent field of labor law, or being asked to raise $15 million for the nation’s largest endowment for legal aid, Hutcheson loves stepping into the unknown.
As a boy in Ithaca, N.Y., Hutcheson loved model airplanes, but his life’s ambition took a turn in fifth grade.
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