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August 31, 2017

20th Annual Jefferson Fordham Award Winners

At its luncheon on Friday, August 11, during the ABA Annual Meeting in New York, the Section’s Jefferson Fordham Society will present its annual Jefferson Fordham Awards honoring professional excellence in the practice of state and local government law. Ross Sandler, a Donald J. Curtin Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and Professor of Law and Director of the Center for New York City Law at New York Law School, is the featured speaker at the event. The following state and local government law practitioners were recognized for their contributions to the profession.

Donald J. Curtin Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Dwight H. Merriam Partner, Robinson + Cole Hartford, Connecticut

Dwight Merriam founded the Robinson & Cole Land Use Group in 1978. He represents landowners, developers, governments, and individuals in land use matters. Dwight is a Fellow and past president of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a former director of the American Planning Association (APA), a former chair of the APA’s Planning and Law Division, past chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of State and Local Government Law, past chair of The Institute for Local Government Studies at The Center for American and International Law, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a member of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute’s National Advisory Board, a Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, a CRE® (Counselor of Real Estate), a member of the Anglo-American Real Property Institute, and a Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. He has taught land use law at the University of Connecticut School of Law and at the Vermont Law School and currently teaches Property Law and the Advanced Land Use Practicum at the Quinnipiac School of Law, where he is a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence. He has published over 200 articles and 13 books, including Inclusionary Zoning Moves DowntownThe Takings IssueThe Complete Guide to Zoning, and Eminent Domain Use and Abuse: Kelo in Context. He is the senior co-author of the leading casebook in land use law, Planning and Control of Land Development (9th ed.) and the co-author of Rathkopf’s The Law of Zoning and Planning. He also co-authors the blog RLUIPA Defense at, a resource for anyone seeking to avoid or defend against claims taken under RLUIPA.

Dwight is a featured speaker at many land use seminars and presents monthly audio land use seminars for the International Municipal Lawyers Association. He has been cited in the national press, from The New York Times to Glamour and People magazine, and has appeared on NBC’s Today show, MSNBC, and public television.

Dwight also had a career in the Navy, serving three tours in Vietnam aboard ship, then returning to be the senior advisor of the Naval ROTC Unit at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. There he taught defense administration and military management as an assistant professor in the undergraduate and graduate curriculums. He left active duty after seven years to attend law school and continued for 24 more years as a reserve surface warfare officer with two major commands, including that of reserve commanding officer of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. He retired as a captain in 1999 after 31 years of service.

Advocacy Award Recipient Anita P. Miller Private Practice Albuquerque, New Mexico

This nomination commemorates the 40th Anniversary of Anita Miller’s graduation from New York Law School. Her working life has included years as a high school history teacher, a college history teacher, and a developer of audio-visual materials. She majored in history and education at Cornell University, attended New York University as a graduate student, obtained a Master’s Degree in College Teaching from Sarah Lawrence College, and completed two years of law school at New York Law School, from which she graduated, before moving to Albuquerque and finishing her third year at New Mexico Law School.

Anita served as the Deputy Mayor of Briarcliff Manor, New York, before moving to New Mexico. She has a “soft spot” for public service, serving in the Albuquerque City Attorney’s office from 1980 to 1983 and most recently as an Assistant City Attorney in the Real Property Division of the Albuquerque Legal Department until retirement in 2013. She was a New Mexico Assistant Attorney General in the consumer division from 1983 to 1985. In 1996, she ran for the New Mexico state legislature but, with more votes than Bill Clinton, she still did not prevail. Sad!

Anita also has worked as a private attorney representing New Mexico municipalities and counties on land use, subdivision, growth management, and environmental matters. She is a tireless advocate of land use planning and zoning and for advancing the agenda of local governments. She serves as an officer of Lambda Alpha International, Zia Chapter (Land Use Economics Honorary Society).

Anita’s public service includes volunteer positions on the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Groundwater Protection Commission; the MRCOG Transportation Public Input Committee; the Mayor’s Sustainable Growth Indicators Commission; the Governor’s Groundwater Task Force; the Albuquerque Groundwater Protection Advisory Committee; and the Albuquerque Nonconforming Uses Task Force. Her land use advocacy is the centerpiece of her career. She is a member of the Board of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute at the University of Denver Law School and is an adjunct Professor of Land Use Law at the University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning and the School of Law. Anita is a frequent chair and faculty member at national, regional, and local CLE seminars related to land use law. She is the author of Grassroots Historic Preservation Law, a publication of the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, and many articles on current land use law subjects. She also has conducted seminars for New Mexico municipalities, counties, and private organizations on land use law issues.

Her work for the American Bar Association is just as noteworthy. Anita is a Past Chair of the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law, Past Chair of the ABA Section Officers Conference, and a former member of the ABA House of Delegates. She is the founder of the Jefferson Fordham Society and in 2005 was responsible for the production of Are You Ready, a video on homeland security, sponsored by this Section. She somehow found the additional time to chair the Public Law Section of the New Mexico Bar Association.

Law Office Accomplishment Award Alternative Sentencing Worker Program Department of Public Advocacy Frankfort, Kentucky. Ed Monahan, Public Advocate, accepting the award.

The Department of Public Advocacy is Kentucky’s statewide public defender program with 545 employees. In FY 2016, DPA represented 158,514 persons in 120 counties, the court of appeals, and the state supreme court. There were 157,853 trial appointments. The Department seeks to address clients’ needs as members of society. It passionately advocates for alternatives to costly incarceration and provides access to services that help to make clients more productive members of their communities, saving costs, reducing recidivism, and making communities safer.

Under the direction of a public defender, the Kentucky Public Advocacy Alternative Sentencing Workers Program works with clients and develops defense-generated, community-based alternative sentencing plans that assure judges and prosecutors that public safety is accounted for and actual rehabilitation is in place. The program has sustained support from criminal justice leaders.

Defenders and Alternative Sentencing Workers identify individuals (clients) with substance use and mental health disorders. Alternative Sentencing Workers use motivational interviewing to engage clients’ awareness of their substance use or mental illness and willingness to seek treatment. Motivational interviewing is an evidence-based approach that allows Alternative Sentencing Workers to increase a client’s engagement in, and compliance with, treatment. This has been proven to improve treatment outcomes. The referral priority is for clients who defenders know from experience will have a likely outcome of incarceration.

In FY 2016, 2,215 plans were presented to courts and 1,400 were granted, offsetting $11 million in correctional costs. Judges, prosecutors, jailers, and drug treatment professionals all value the program. Independent evaluation of the program demonstrates its high value. The program provides $5.66 of return on investment for every $1 spent on the program, according to an independent evaluation by the University of Kentucky Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, using data collected by Alternative Sentencing Worker Program staff and administrators. The full Study and a Supplemental Study further assessing what difference ASW plans have on outcomes can be found at,%20Resources%20and%20Reports.aspx.

Up & Comer Award Ashley Nicole Scott City of Atlanta Law Department Atlanta, Georgia

A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Florida, Ashley was a Fellow in the inaugural class of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, where, in 2009, she was a part of a final thesis group of senior students that drafted and proposed amendments to the City of Gainesville, Florida, housing discrimination, public accommodation, and employment discrimination ordinances. She amended the ordinances to include sexual orientation, transgender, and gender identity as protected classes and was responsible for tackling the issue of bathroom accommodation equality as it pertained to the transgender community.

Ashley earned her J.D. at Emory University Law School, where she was admitted to the Order of Emory Advocates in recognition of exceptional performance at interscholastic competitions, oral and written advocacy ability, and service and leadership in Emory Law School’s litigation programs. She was a judicial intern with the DeKalb County Juvenile Court (summer 2011), where she assisted Judge Linda Haynes in developing the Drug Diversion Program and, while serving as an intern to all four Juvenile Court judges, aided in developing programming for a court enrichment program for young girls who were involved in both the deprivation and delinquency system.

From August through December 2011 she was a Legal Unit Extern with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As a summer honors intern in the Labor and Employment Division of the New York City Law Department (2012), she drafted winning motions regarding city employees’ claims of reverse discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. Over the next five months in 2012 she was a legal extern in the Labor and Employment Department of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.

While in private practice at Ogletree Deakins and McFadden, Davis, she was part of a legal team that redrafted and updated all of the personnel code for Fulton County, Georgia, represented DeKalb County, Georgia, in internal investigations pertaining to claims of sexual harassment and retaliation, and represented the Atlanta Public School system, defending its employee disciplinary decisions, including both termination and progressive discipline.

Ms. Scott also managed a judicial campaign within DeKalb County. She was brought on as a campaign manager for a superior court race within DeKalb County. Although her candidate narrowly lost the seat, it was one of the closest races to date in a county where an incumbent judge has not been unseated for 30 years.

In May 2016, Ashley joined the City of Atlanta Law Department, where she hit the ground running. Her primary client is the Department of Watershed Management, the city’s public utility, currently midway into its $4 billion Clean Water Atlanta Program. Her practice involves contractual negotiation and multi-million-dollar billing disputes, employment counseling, annexation litigation, and crisis management. She has been involved in drafting the nationally recognized Atlanta response to Black Lives Matter protesters, analyzing appropriate measures of safety when transporting elected officials, and creating affordable housing legislation.

In October 2016, she was part of a three-person trial team that successfully defended a challenge to the annexation of the Loch Lomond community, an area of 271 acres and about 275 homes in the City of Atlanta. Ms. Scott was the second chair for the trial team that successfully defended the City of Atlanta against a $1 million demand for damages in a negligence lawsuit, obtaining a directed verdict.