CBANEWS Justice John Paul Stevens Award 2020: Adapting to the Changing Times By Jasmine V. Hernandez, Editorial Board Member
I ntegrity and a commitment to public service are respected and thanked every year by the CBA and the CBF at the annual Justice John Paul Stevens Award ceremony. The 2020 awardees – Marisel A. Hernandez, Jennifer Nijman, Terrence M. Murphy, Zaldwaynaka (“Z”) Scott, and Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr. – deserve accolades and so much more. Due to COVID-19 restric- tions, the Chicago legal community convened on Zoom to celebrate the year’s Stevens Award recipients. Since 2000, the Stevens Award has been presented annually to attorneys and judges who best exemplify the Justice’s commitment to integrity and public ser- vice in the practice of law. The Justice’s former law clerks conceived this recogni- tion not only to honor his commitment to community, but to all those who follow in his stead, and to inspire others to do the same. A long-time friend of the CBA until his passing in July 2019, Justice Stevens faithfully attended the award luncheons, either in person or he asked his friend, Justice William Bauer, to attend for him. While different in format, the 2020 virtual celebration nonetheless captured the substance and prestige of the Stevens Award. The presentation began with welcome remarks from CBA and CBF Presidents Maryam Ahmad and Veronica Gomez, respectively. Daniel A. Cotter, former CBA president, shared the history of the Stevens Award before President Ahmad
introduced each of the 2020 awardees. The first recipi-
of Illinois. She also served on the board of the Public Interest Law Initiative. Pres- ently, she serves on the Illinois Supreme Court’s Commission for Access. Ms. Nijman spoke about her time as president of the CBA and how, in that capacity, she met Justice Stevens. She fondly recalled her interactions with him and his belief that it was the duty of judges to apply old values to new circumstances. Ms. Nijman reminded everyone of their duty to uphold the values of our legal system. She urged members of the profession to ensure access to the justice system and help the system adapt to changing times and encouraged attendees to be respon- sible for each other. Terrence Murphy,
ent introduced was Marisel A. Hernan- dez, Chai rwoman, Chi cago Board of Elect ion Commi s- sioners. Ms. Hernan- dez’s commitment to public service is long and varied. In addi-
tion to serving as Chairwoman of the Board since 2016, she also has experience with the National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor- tunity Commission. In 1988, she joined Jacobs, Burns, Orlove & Hernandez and has continued hold civic positions including Chairwoman, board member of Chicago ITT Kent Law School Insti- tute for Law. In 2019 she served on the magistrate judge selection panel. Ms. Hernandez reminded the attendees, “Our voice is our power.” Next , Pres ident
f o rme r Exe cu t i ve Director of the CBA, was the next hon- oree. He stated that being selected as a Stevens Award recipi- ent was the highlight of his CBA career.
Terrence M. Murphy
Ahmad introduced Jenn i f e r Ni jman , founding partner of Ni jman Fr anz e t t i LLP and a long-time leader in the Chicago l ega l commun i t y. Ms. Nijman is past president and board
He shared stories about his interactions with Justice Stevens, whom he described as embodying civility, thoughtfulness, and generosity. Mr. Murphy reminded everyone that there is “no better way to make a difference than to work through an organized bar association.” When Zaldwaynaka (“Z”) Scott accepted her award, she quoted Marian Wright Edelman who said, “Service is the
Jennifer T. Nijman
member of the Center for Conflict Reso- lution, as well as the Lawyers Trust Fund
Watch the 2020 Justice John Paul Stevens Awards at www.youtube/chicagobar.org.