While students from the Highland school district gathered for mock trials traditionally marking Law Day, members of the Madison County Bar Association (MCBA) celebrated in their own way – by honoring their own.
At the annual law day luncheon, a number of members of the county's legal community were honored for work ranging from speaking at school to taking cases pro bono.
Over 65 members of the bar association gathered at the N.O. Johnson Center in Edwardsville for the annual ceremony.
"We are grateful today as people who are keenly aware of the need for justice," said MCBA President Madison County Associate Judge Elizabeth Levy. She noted her colleagues' commitment to their profession and high standards.
Notables from the legal community who attended Friday's awards were the new president of the Illinois Bar Association, Mark Hassakis, Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis, Circuit Judges Andy Matoesian, Barbara Crowder, Dennis Ruth, and Charles Romani, and State's Attorney William Mudge.
Law Day chairwoman Amy Meyer applauded her fellow members for living the theme of this year's Law Day, "Enduring Traditions and Emerging Challenges."
"This is a fabulous place to practice," Meyer said of Madison County.
Meyer spoke of challenges facing the practice of law in Madison County that range from advancing technology to increasing discovery in cases.
"These are challenges," Meyer said. "But I know Madison County's going to emerge and be as good as we've always been."
Those attending applauded the day's award winners. Awards given out included the Joseph R. Bartylak Pro Bono Service Award, won this year by attorneys Debbie Crouse Cobb and Mike Meehan, and the Liberty Bell Award.
The Liberty Bell went to Bradley Lavite for his work with the Veterans' Assistance Commission.
The MCBA also highlighted the work of members who have spoken in area schools as part of the bar association's outreach program to children.
Several attorneys and Madison County judges were also honored as 2010 People's Law School honorees.
"I think Madison County is the best county in the state," Levy said. "But I'm a bit prejudiced."
The celebration of Law Day began in the days of the Eisenhower administration.
2010 MCBA Law Day Honorees and Participants
Liberty Bell Award:
Joseph Bartylak Pro Bono Service Award:
Mike Meehan and Debbi Crouse Cobb
People's Law School Honorees:
Dennis Orsey, chairman
Madison County Associate Judge Elizabeth Levy
Madison County Associate Judge Ellar Duff
Pro Bono Honorees:
Gail Donnelly Bader
Deborah Crouse Cobb
Donna Morrison Polinske
Amy Meyer, chairman
Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack
Madison County Associate Judge Duane Bailey
Mock Trial Participants:
Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla
Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder