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Announcing CJA Award

With great excitement we announce the creation of an annual award to recognize a CJA lawyer for excellence in advocating for indigent persons accused of federal crimes.  The award, named in honor of Justice Thurgood Marshall, will be bestowed upon the CJA lawyer who in the judgment of the lawyers at IFCD and the head of the CJA Panel has best reflected the attributes of Justice Thurgood Marshall in the preceding 12 months.

Justice Marshall was a fearless and tenacious public servant with a big brain but who also understood the struggles of the poor and disenfranchised.  He argued 32 cases before the United States Supreme Court, winning 29 of them.  Many of these cases were ground breaking civil rights cases, including Brown v. Board of Education.  Justice Marshall traveled through the south litigating on behalf of poor people and minorities, frequently staying in guest houses because he was barred from hotels due to segregation and Jim Crow.  His work was dangerous and he frequently wondered if he would end up dead or in the same jail cell as the people he was trying to defend. 

Justice Marshall frequently represented black defendants in criminal cases who could not afford to hire counsel.  He was a resolute, relentless advocate for the powerless and the voiceless.  His spirit never waned.  His energy appeared boundless.  He never doubted the righteousness of what he was doing. 
When he was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1967 by President Lyndon Johnson he became its first African American member.  He never forgot the people for whom he had advocated so doggedly.  His time on the Court was marked by uncompromising liberalism, laser-like focus on practical considerations beyond the formalities of the law, and an indefatigable willingness to dissent when he believed the majority was wrong. 

The Thurgood Marshall Award for Excellence in Advocacy will be awarded at the cocktail party following our Annual Seminar in July.  After this year we will allow for nominations or self-nominations.  We will print guidelines for making nominations in the near future.  Get out there and be awesome!