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Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee announces Pro Bono Excellence award winners

The State Bar of Texas Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee has announced its 2022 Pro Bono Excellence awards winners.

Michael Logan Ware, of Fort Worth, received the Frank J. Scurlock Award; the Rev. Brooks Harrington, of Fort Worth, received the J. Chrys Dougherty Award; Judge Jerry W. Simoneaux Jr., of Harris County Probate Court 1 in Houston, received the Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award; Metroplex Veterans Legal Services, of Dallas, received the Pro Bono Award; Audrey F. Momanaee, of Houston, received the Pro Bono Coordinator Award; Stacey Manela, of Houston, received the Pro Bono Support Staff Award; and Sidley Austin LLP of Dallas received the W. Frank Newton Award.

The Frank J. Scurlock Award—Michael Logan Ware

The Frank J. Scurlock Award honors an individual attorney in good standing who has provided outstanding pro bono work. Throughout his more than 30-year career, Ware has provided pro bono criminal defense services to dozens of clients and put in thousands of hours of work to ensure they had adequate counsel regardless of their ability to pay.

Ware’s pro bono cases in recent years have typically been through direct requests from pro bono clients or their family members. Ware has provided pro bono criminal defense services to three clients in the past two years totaling approximately 160 hours of work.

Chrys Dougherty Award—the Rev. Brooks Harrington

The J. Chrys Dougherty Award recognizes an outstanding legal services staff attorney. Harrington founded the Methodist Justice Ministry, or MJM, in January 2006 to assist low-income clients with protective orders, divorces, and custody cases with a focus on protecting women and children. Since its inception, MJM has filed 2,100 cases. In total, MJM has provided legal protection to approximately 2,300 women and children in the past 17 years.

Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award—Judge Jerry W. Simoneaux Jr.

The Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award honors a sitting or retired judge who has provided exemplary pro bono service, including outreach to attorneys to increase the quantity and quality of pro bono representation; modifications to court processes to increase access to justice; advocacy on behalf of access to justice; service as a volunteer judge for pro bono clinics; or other pro bono proceedings.

With critical support from Simoneaux, Houston Volunteer Lawyers leveraged its 2021 CLE and judicial training materials to recruit over 230 pro bono attorneys who agreed to handle a probate matter in 2021. Simoneaux also helps plan and execute Houston Volunteer Lawyers’ annual Guardianship & Ad Litem Certification CLE.

Pro Bono Award—Metroplex Veterans Legal Services

The Pro Bono Award honors a volunteer attorney organization that has made an outstanding contribution toward guaranteeing access to the legal system by the poor. Metroplex Veterans Legal Services, MVLS, was founded in 2013 and is the only statewide veterans-focused pro bono legal clinic program in Texas. Its legal clinics focus on removing the legal barriers to employment and housing for veterans and assisting disabled veterans in obtaining military/VA disability benefits. MVLS has approximately 342 volunteer attorneys in addition to 19 assistant attorney generals working alongside the attorney general of Texas.

Pro Bono Coordinator Award—Audrey F. Momanaee

The Pro Bono Coordinator Award is presented to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the delivery of, and access to legal services for the poor. This individual also serves as the pro bono coordinator for a volunteer attorney organization or group, local bar association, law firm, law school, corporate legal office, governmental law department, or legal services organization.

Momanaee has worked tirelessly on numerous pro bono activities, including the “No One Left Behind” initiative, which helps Afghanis who fear persecution and harm in their homeland obtain humanitarian parole and legal entry into the United States. She has also encouraged attorneys at her office to provide pro bono support to over a dozen pro bono guardianship matters and many other family law matters.

Pro Bono Support Staff Award—Stacey Manela

The Pro Bono Support Staff Award recognizes the exemplary contributions of non-attorney volunteers such as paralegals, administrative assistants, interpreters, and other support staff who work on pro bono projects.

Manela is one of the most skilled providers of trial graphics in the field. Her firm, Art of Facts, provides trial graphics and litigation support for many of the most well-respected firms in Houston. She is widely recognized as the go-to person in Houston for trial graphics and trial support.

W. Frank Newton Award—Sidley Austin LLP

The W. Frank Newton Award recognizes the pro bono contribution of attorney groups whose members have made an outstanding contribution in the provision of, or access to legal services to the poor. Sidley’s Dallas office has been an indispensable partner to Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program’s, or DVAP’s, mission to recruit, train, and support volunteer attorneys to provide free, civil legal help and full representation to low-income people in Dallas County across a variety of cases.

Last October, DVAP named Sidley “Law Firm of the Year” at its 2021 Pro Bono Awards. This was the second year that DVAP awarded the firm this recognition for its tireless dedication to pro bono service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Per AP

 

Should this be “Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award”?

 

Should this be “Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award”?

Original author: Will Korn
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