Annual Volunteer Recognition Reception Honors Pro Bono and Bar Committee Volunteers
Members and friends of the King County Bar Association met on October 18 at the historic and elegant Women’s University Club to express their appreciation for the outstanding efforts of those who lead the important work of KCBA by volunteering on our committees and providing thousands of hours of pro bono service to low-income persons who have civil legal demands affecting their basic needs.
“Of the 14,509 active attorneys in King County, I am proud to report that over 2,000 of them volunteer with the King County Bar,” said KCBA President Kate Battuello in her remarks to those gathered at the event.
“Whether giving advice to an indigent client at a neighborhood legal clinic or representing a tenant at a show cause hearing, whether reviewing references for candidates seeking judicial appointment or writing chapters for the Washington Lawyers Practice Manual, whether researching public policy options for the bar related to the death penalty or analyzing court rules proposals on behalf of the bar, our thousands of volunteers are what make this association an exceptional organization. We accomplish tremendous results for the profession and our broader community, and owe that success to our volunteers.”
Special guest speaker, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, spoke about the importance of connections: those between law enforcement and communities, between advocates and victims, and between criminal and civil practitioners. He highlighted several programs of the prosecutor’s office where these connections have been effectively made, including a collaboration with KCBA’s Pro Bono Services and four other legal aid organizations that will provide essential civil legal services for domestic violence survivors.
KCBA gave special recognition to outgoing committee chairs Kinnon Williams, Fair Campaign Practices; Jeffrey D. Cohan, Judicial Candidate Evaluation; and J. Michael Diaz, Neighborhood Legal Clinics Committee.
A highlight of the event was the presentation of the annual awards to volunteers (profiled on the facing page), who are outstanding in making a difference in the lives of so many people in need.
Friend of Pro Bono – Martha Cohen
KCBA recognized Martha Cohen, Interpreter Services manager for King County Superior Court, with the Friend of Pro Bono Award. This award was created in 2010 to recognize those who are not KCBA Pro Bono Services volunteers, but who contribute to the success of our programs. With the help of these community partners, low-income clients are given truly meaningful access to justice.
Cohen is a dedicated partner of KCBA in the quest to provide equal access to justice for all. She is very conscientious in her position as the manager of Interpreter Services. Although interpreters usually need to be scheduled several days beforehand, Cohen works with the Housing Justice Project, an eviction defense clinic run by KCBA, to provide interpreters for walk-in clients who come in with no notice.
Interpreter Services has an impressive response time and success rate, especially given the logistical difficulties inherent in providing last-minute service. Cohen often visits HJP to see how things are going, and has on occasion stepped in to interpret personally.
Cohen has been instrumental in implementing the “Language Line,” which provides instant access to video interpretation through a computer application. This has been a great benefit to HJP’s clients and volunteers.
Kinship Care Solutions Project
Volunteer of the Year – Adrienne Stuart
The Kinship Care Solutions Project recognized Adrienne Stuart as its Volunteer of the Year. Stuart represented a grandmother seeking custody of her two grandchildren in a contested, non-parental custody case. Although this was her first non-parental custody case, Stuart was committed to the learning process and demonstrated exceptional advocacy on behalf of her client.
Stuart’s client had been caring for her grandchildren for the majority of their lives. Both parents had extensive criminal histories, including violent offenses, and had been in and out of jail. The parents also had untreated substance abuse issues.
After the mother threatened to take the children away from the only safe and stable home and caregiver that they knew, Stuart stepped in to ensure that the children would remain with their grandmother. This involved obtaining an emergency restraining order and temporary custody order, preparing and appearing at multiple motion hearings, and then finally representing the grandmother at trial. The court granted custody to the grandmother and ordered visitation rights and services for the parents that were protective of the children.
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