New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

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Judge Rodriguez to Receive 2005 Diversity Award

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The NJSBA Standing Committee on Diversity will present the Mel Narol Excellence in Diversity Award to U.S. District Court Senior Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez at the committee’s Seventh Annual Luncheon planned for May 19 during Annual Meeting 2005 at Bally’s Atlantic City. He will also deliver the keynote address at the event.

The award is presented to those members of the NJSBA who have spearheaded inclusion and made strides for women and minority lawyers. In 2002, the committee renamed its annual diversity award to commemorate the late President-Elect Mel Narol’s commitment to the work of and enthusiastic support of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s diversity initiatives.

“The Diversity Committee is extremely pleased to recognize Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez as the recipient of the 2005 Mel Narol Excellence in Diversity Award,” said Diversity Committee Co-Chairs Lora Fong, Desha Lang Jackson and Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. in a joint statement. “In so doing, we honor Judge Rodriguez and his legacy. Certainly, he has had a remarkable and distinguished career as a lawyer and as a jurist. But beyond that, he has inspired us all by blazing a trail for others – including being the first person of color to serve as the president of the NJSBA – and has provided unparalleled leadership by example through his staunch support of the minority community and his unwavering commitment to diversity initiatives.”

Judge Rodriguez served as NJSBA president from 1978 to 1979, and was nominated to federal judicial service by U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1985. In 2000, he was recognized by Hon. Robert E. Andrews of the 106th Congress for outstanding contributions to the legal profession and for 15 years of distinguished service on the federal bench.

In October 1994, Judge Rodriguez participated in the ABA’s Central and East European Law initiative in Moscow, Russia, working to develop educational programs to be run entirely by Russians. The Russian reformers aimed to institutionalize judicial prestige and autonomy through the establishment of an adversarial process using juror-citizens.

Judge Rodriguez was the National Hispanic Bar Association’s Man of the Year in 1992 and was inducted into the Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1996. In 1999, he received the prestigious Medal of Honor from the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and received the William J. Brennan Jr. Award from the Federal Bar of the State of New Jersey.

If interested in attending the Diversity Committee’s Seventh Annual Luncheon to join in the celebration honoring Judge Rodriguez, be sure to register for this ticketed event when sending in the annual meeting registration form.

Annual Meeting Programs Update

The NJSBA’s annual gathering will supply a forum for what has now become the Annual Meeting Bench Bar Conference. The third annual bench bar will include sessions for civil trial bar, criminal law, family law and municipal court practitioners. An impressive slate of judges and attorneys will be on hand to discuss important developments, issues involving judicial administration, best practices, and other hot topics. On the schedule for Friday, May 20, the Annual Meeting Bench Bar is a must attend opportunity for judges and attorneys to interact and network, in addition to addressing current issues involving the law and the New Jersey courts.

Also on the slate for Friday morning is the States of the Judiciaries that will feature a report on the state and federal courts.

Other programs on the schedule include a Family Law Section panel presentation on obtaining and collecting an attorney’s lien as well as current case law regarding nonrefundable retainer fees (Fischer decision) and collecting from third parties (necessaries) (Walder v. Basroon decision). Counsel Fees, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, will be followed by a reception for family law section members and invited guests.

Retired Justice Alan B. Handler will moderate an Appellate Practice Committee program on the complexities of appellate practice in the course of litigation at the trial level and before the Appellate Division and Supreme Court. Appellate Practice for the Litigating Lawyer will feature New Jersey Supreme Court Justice James R. Zazzali, Appellate Division Judge Robert A. Fall, Superior Court Judge Jack M. Sabatino and attorney Brian J. Molloy as panelists.

The Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Rights Committee will present an up-to-the minute report on the status of rapidly expanding law and its impact on GLBT clients during the program, Hot Topics in the Fast-Paced Practice of GLBT Law. Panelists will discuss the status of Lewis v. Harris, Domestic Partnership Act amendments, immigration issues, tax issues, estate planning, contrasting New Jersey GLBT rights with other states and countries, Lavender Law special interests, and second-parent adoption, custody and visitation.

Other substantive programs on the conference schedule will cover counseling clients during a crisis, a discussion of verbal threshold and underinsured motorist coverage cases, identifying common gift and estate problems, and much more.

For a complete listing of Annual Meeting 2005 programs, ticketed events, networking gatherings and registration forms, visit, select Meetings Calendar and then Annual Meeting. You can also contact the NJSBA Meetings Department at 732-249-5000 to request a brochure.

Plan to join your colleagues at the NJSBA’s premiere conference, Annual Meeting 2005, from May 18 – 20 in Bally’s Atlantic City.

The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice.