Almost 120 members of the Lawrence Bar Association gathered Thursday night at its annual Fall Dinner to reconnect and to celebrate outstanding service within both the legal and greater community. Throughout the evening, the LBA highlighted both those who have made valuable contributions over many years of service, and those who have the potential to do the same.
The featured speaker of the evening was Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe, who spoke about the current nature of politics both in the region and in the nation in this election year. No matter what side of the political spectrum you find yourself, Mr. Jacoby noted the changing politics in our country, and implored attendees to find those bridges that allow us to still be good to each other.
The Lawrence Bar Association also presented several awards and honors to both distinguished lawyers and those who serve the greater community.
The LBA presented a Distinguished Service Award to the Honorable Howard J. Whitehead, Associate Justice of the Superior Court, who retired on October 5 after 21 years of service on the bench. His distinguished career as a judge was preceded by over 20 years as a prosecutor, both with the Attorney General's office, and in the office of the Middlesex District Attorney. Honored in 1993 as Prosecutor of the Year by the group "Parents of Murdered Children," Judge Whitehead prosecuted a number of high-profile cases as Middlesex First Assistant District Attorney, including the nationally-televised trial of Jamie Fuller, who was convicted in 1992 of killing his girlfriend Amy Carnevale. Appointed to the bench by Governor William Weld in 1993, Judge Whitehead has been known for his fairness, courtesy and compassion as a jurist.
The LBA also honored Juan Bonilla, Deputy Director of Lawrence Community Works, with its Liberty Bell Award for distinguished service to the community. Mr. Bonilla, accompanied by his family, spoke passionately about the importance of working with the people of Lawrence who suffered at the hands of exploitative mortgage lenders, and how helping them navigate those complex waters allowed many to not only keep their homes but to help improve the community.
Also honored last night were the winners of scholarships awarded to two law students from the Merrimack Valley. The Lawrence Bar Association Education Trust Scholarship was presented to Abigail Chmielecki and the Sargent Battershill Scholarship was presented to Romanus C. Maduabchi. Congratulations to both winners!
But the biggest moment of the night went to former LBA president James Krasnoo, who was honored for 50 years of distinguished service to the LBA and the people of the Merrimack Valley. Paul Klehm brought down the house with a hilarious and touching tribute to his partner, mentor, and friend. And Jim was treated with a well-deserved standing ovation from all of the people in the room whom he had touched over the years. Click on the video link for highlights from the Paul's and Jim's speeches - it's three minutes well worth your time - and click on the dinner photo to see a gallery of images from the special evening.