BOSTON, Dec. 21 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network — Eleven attorneys from across the nation have been selected as Lawyers of the Year by Lawyers Weekly USA.
They include prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers, civil litigators
from both sides of the bar and one judge who could shape the legal landscape
of this nation for decades to come.
Their accomplishments range from assisting Katrina flood victims to
Supreme Court victories involving government land takings, sentencing
guidelines and the death penalty. In doing so, they have represented
individual citizens, corporations and the nation as a whole.
The Lawyers of the Year for 2005, in alphabetical order, are:
Patrick Fitzgerald (Illinois Special Prosecutor)
Chosen for his integrity, neutrality and reputation for tireless
investigation, Fitzgerald is handling the political hot potato of
investigating charges that the Bush Administration leaked the name of CIA
operative Valerie Plame in order to punish her husband, former ambassador
Joseph Wilson, for speaking out against the invasion of Iraq.
Ervin Gonzalez (Florida Plaintiffs’ Attorney)
The Florida plaintiffs’ lawyer has gone to trial three times this year and
has won verdicts for more than a million dollars in each one. Two of those
verdicts topped $60 million – one for a boy brain damaged at birth and the
other for a sixth grader electrocuted by faulty wiring in an outdoor bus
shelter. Not bad for the son of Cuban immigrants whose father worked as a
bellhop and mother as a cafeteria worker.
Christine Griffin (Massachusetts Disability Rights Attorney)
A tireless advocate for the disabled in Massachusetts, Griffin is the
first female with a physical disability to serve as commissioner of the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Wesley Horton (Connecticut Appellate and Civil Law Attorney)
In one of the year’s most controversial decisions, Horton took an obscure
land taking case out of New London, Conn., to the U.S. Supreme Court and
established the right of local governments to take private land and give it to
private developers in the name of economic development. The decision
unleashed vocal protests over the expansion of eminent domain law, which had
traditionally been restricted to “public uses” such as highway projects and
Jim Hood (Mississippi Attorney General)
As Mississippi attorney general, Hood launched a battle for his
constituents by suing insurance companies over their refusal to reimburse
customers for flood damage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The insurance
companies contend that customers were well aware that flood damage is
specifically excluded from the hurricane policies and chose not to purchase
supplemental coverage. Hood argues that the policies were unclear and
therefore the insurance companies have a legal duty to pay hundreds of
thousands of flood damage claims.
Mark Lanier (Texas Plaintiffs’ Attorney)
With more than 6,000 death and injury cases pending against the popular
pain medication Vioxx, Lanier’s $253.5 million verdict in the first case to go
to trial set the stage for years of high-stakes litigation.
John Roberts (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court)
Even during his confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court, Roberts
was universally praised for his knowledge, integrity and fairness. Now, as
the second youngest Chief Justice in U.S. history, he has the potential to
shape the course of federal law for decades to come.
Rosemary Scapicchio (Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer) and
Christopher Kelly (Wisconsin Criminal Lawyer)
Two small-firm lawyers from different regions of the country with two
routine criminal cases were an unlikely pair to change sentencing guidelines
for the entire nation. But that’s exactly what Scapicchio and Kelly did when
their separate cocaine cases were consolidated and they convinced the nation’s
high Court to scrap federal sentencing guidelines that had governed the
country for 20 years.
Diane Sullivan (New Jersey Defense Attorney)
With more than 6,000 cases pending and the first Vioxx trial ending in a
staggering $253.5 million verdict, the stakes couldn’t have been higher for
defense attorney Diane Sullivan. She halted Merck & Co.’s death spiral with a
resounding defense win, evening the score at one-to-one. With the third trial
ending this month in a hung jury, Vioxx litigators will enter the new year
with the mass tort litigation hanging in the balance.
Seth Waxman (Washington Appellate Specialist)
When it comes to high stakes, they don’t get much higher than the death
penalty. So it was a momentous occasion when Waxman convinced the U.S.
Supreme Court that executing anyone who was under the age of 18 when they
committed their crime constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. He convinced
the Court executing a minor (1) violates constitutional requirements that the
punishment be proportional to the person’s culpability, and (2) violates
national and international standards of decency.
Lawyers Weekly USA is the nation’s premier source of legal information for
practicing attorneys. It is a division of closely-held Dolan Media Company,
based in Minneapolis, which operates daily and weekly law and business
newspapers in 21 U.S. metro markets.
Further details can be found in this week’s edition of Lawyers Weekly USA
and on the website, http://www.lawyersweeklyusa.com. For more information
about Lawyers of the Year, please contact Lawyers Weekly USA at (800) 444-
Susan Bocamazo, Esq.
(800) 444-5297, Ext. 8191