During the first ABA Hybrid Annual Meeting in August 2021, the ABA Judicial Division’s National Conference of Specialized Court Judges (NCSCJ) selected three outstanding judges to receive its annual awards and recognition.
The Honorable Michael Pietruszka was selected to receive the Franklin N. Flaschner Award, recognizing him as the nation’s outstanding judge in a special and limited jurisdiction court.
Judge Pietruszka received his undergraduate degree from Canisius College (B.A. cum laude) in 1978, and his Juris Doctorate degree (cum laude) from Syracuse University College of Law in 1981. He began his legal career in 1982 as a self-employed private practice lawyer. He also worked as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Buffalo Law Department from 1983 to 1986 and as the Director of the Buffalo Division of Parking Enforcement from 1986 to 1987. He served as General Counsel for the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority in 1987.
Judge Pietruszka was appointed to the Buffalo City Court in 1988, and the Erie County Court in 1999. He retired from the bench in 2018.
Judge Pietruszka previously served as the Chair of the NCSCJ. He has also been the chair of the International Courts Committee for the Conference, has worked closely with judges in Canada and Poland, and most recently responded to a call for assistance related to relocation of judges being evacuated from Afghanistan.
While serving as Chair of the NCSCJ, he instituted a Conference diversity policy to advance the effort to ensure that judges would be representative of the people they served. This was long before other entities began the effort to address diversity, equity and inclusion. Judge Pietruszka completed the University of Memphis’ Leadership Institute in Judicial Education and is an ASTAR (Advanced Science and Technology Adjudication Resource) Fellow. He currently serves as a board member of the National Courts and Sciences Institute. He is also a National Advisory Committee Member of the Bryson Program for Judicial Science Education at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill School of Medicine Department of Genetics.
The Franklin Flaschner Award is named in honor of the late Chief Justice Franklin N. Flaschner who served on the District Court of Massachusetts. Recipients of the Award are selected based upon their contributions at the local, state, tribal, national or international levels to continuing education of the judiciary and to the improved quality of justice in courts with special and limited jurisdictions.
The NCSCJ selected W. Milton Nuzum, former Marietta Municipal Court Judge in Ohio to receive the William R. McMahon Award. Former Judge Nuzum pioneered web technology long before that was a popular trend. He creatively applied technology which led to more efficient court operations. The window in which he advanced these ideas, some 20 years ago, made the “salesmanship” of the new and novel technology much more challenging.
He currently serves as the Director of the Judicial and Education Services of the Supreme Court of Ohio, providing continuing education support to the Ohio Judicial Conference, the Ohio Appellate Judges Association, the Ohio Common Pleas Judges Association, the Ohio Probate Judges Association, the Ohio Juvenile Court Judges Association, the Ohio Domestic Relations Judge Association, the Ohio Association of Municipal and County Court Judges, the Ohio Magistrates Association, and the Ohio Association for Court Administration.
Former Judge Nuzum received his B.S. degree from The Ohio State University in Pharmacy and his Juris Doctorate Degree from Indiana University Bloomington, IN. He served in the Marietta Municipal Court from 1993 until 2006. Between 2007 and 2014, he was the Director of the Judicial College in Columbus, Ohio, organizing curriculum based continuing education programs for judges, magistrates and court personnel through live conferences, teleconferences and internet-based distance learning.
The McMahon Award is presented to a judge or court employee who served in a court of limited or special jurisdiction, or an attorney who practices in a court of special or limited jurisdiction who has made a significant implementation or development in the use of modern technology in a court of special or limited jurisdiction. The award honors the late William R. McMahon of Ohio, an outstanding member of the Executive Committee of the ABA Judicial Division National Conference of Specialized Court Judges and Chair of the Conference’s Modern Technology in the Courts Committee from 1990 until his death in 1994. Judge McMahon was a leader in the implementation of technological advances in the courts. He participated in the Judicial Electronic Document and Data Interchange Committee and was also active in the Center for Advance Study in Telecommunications at the Ohio State University. Judge McMahon operated the Bulletin Board System for the Ohio Judicial Network and chaired the JADTECH conference on ABAnet.
The NCSCJ also was honored to present the Military Honor Graduate Recognition to The Honorable Lieutenant Colonel Tiffany D. Pond, United States Army. This recognition is presented to the military judge graduating with the highest score from the Army Judge Advocate General’s School Military Judges Course in Charlottesville, VA. The Co-Chair of the NCSCJ Military Courts Committee, The Honorable Colonel Michael Lewis, United States Air Force, presented the plaque to Lieutenant Colonel Pond at the graduation ceremony at Charlottesville, VA on July 2, 2021.
Honorees will be recognized at a formal recognition ceremony at the 2022 ABA Midyear Meeting in February in Seattle, WA.