January 20, 2016

2016 Lawyer as Problem Solver Award

ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Announces the 2016 Recipients of the John W. Cooley Lawyer as Problem Solver Award

Judith Kaye presided over the 7-member New York Court of Appeals (New York's highest court, in which she was the first woman to be appointed Chief Judge) for nearly 16 years.  She was the longest-serving chief judge in New York history. In that capacity, she also supervised the $2.5 billion, 16,000 employee statewide judicial system, which she modernized by making jury service more equitable and convenient and by establishing specialized courts concerned as much with problem-solving as with punishment. In specialized courts that focused on local community quandaries and on crimes involving drugs and domestic violence, New York judges now have alternatives to sending a defendant to jail, among them ordering treatment for addiction and mental illness and providing social services for victims of abuse. As chief judge, Judith Kaye was esteemed as a collegial consensus builder, but she was also remembered for an important dissent she delivered in 2006 in Hernandez v. Robles, when a four-judge plurality ruled that same sex couples had neither a constitutional nor a statutory right to marry. Invoking the Equal Protection Clause, she wrote “I am  confident that future generations will look back on today’s decision as an unfortunate misstep.” Five years later, the New York Legislature acted to legalize same sex marriage.

The Justice Center of Atlanta and the Center’s Director, Edith Primm, will receive a 2016 Lawyer as problem Solver Award from the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution. The Justice Center of Atlanta first started as one of three “Neighborhood Justice Centers” funded by the now defunct Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) at the U.S. Department of Justice. Since March of 1978 when the Center held its first mediation, some 75,000 cases have been handled ranging geographically from all over the metropolitan area to state, national, and international sites. Fulton County courts remain our largest local referral agency along with Dekalb County courts.

The Center’s customers include local court systems, the United States Postal Service, school systems, and federal agencies. The Center's 100 mediators, most of whom are independent contractors, handle cases ranging from neighborhood controversies, and small claims and misdemeanor criminal conflicts to personal injury, breach of contract, real estate, probate, educational, divorce/child custody, and employment matters.

Three of the Center’s most well-known mediations involved the lawsuit Jan Kemp filed against the University of Georgia; President Carter’s Presidential Center’s dispute with CAUTION – 24 neighborhoods which had sued to stop the building of a road through their neighborhoods to the Carter Presidential Library; and the Druid Hills neighborhood coalition’s threatened boycott of The Emory Village CVS drugstore.

The Center’s training team has earned a fine national reputation and has taught mediation to thousands of Americans living in the United States, Western Europe, Korea, and Japan. The Center has trained over 50,000 people and mediated approximately 80,000 cases.

The late Judith Kaye and the Justice Center of Atlanta will be recognized during the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Awards Reception and Dinner on Friday, April 8th, at the Yale Club of New York.

For more information on the 18th Annual Section of Dispute Resolution Spring Conference