Alabama State Bar Announces 2015 Award Recipients

Alabama State Bar Announces 2015 Award Recipients

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama State Bar on Saturday during the 2015 Annual Meeting announced the recipients of several awards honoring members of the legal profession:

Judicial Award of Merit – Hon. J. Langford Floyd

The Judicial Award of Merit is the highest honor given by the Alabama State Bar to a sitting judge, whether state or federal court, trial or appellate, who has contributed significantly to the administration of justice in Alabama.

Judge J. Langford Floyd, a native of Dothan, Alabama, moved to Baldwin County in 1984 after completing law school. A former municipal judge for the City of Fairhope, Alabama, Judge Floyd was also a city prosecutor for the City of Daphne, Alabama, and an assistant district attorney, before becoming a district judge in 1997. He became a circuit judge in 2001.

Judge Floyd is a graduate of Troy State University (now Troy University) where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting in 1978 and Cumberland School of Law at Samford University where he earned his J.D. in 1984.

Judge Floyd is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U. S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps, a past member of the Troy University Alumni Association Board of Directors and a member of the Executive Board of the Alabama Circuit Judges’ Association. He serves on the Military Law Committee and the Advisory Committee of the Alabama Rules of Evidence of the Alabama State Bar. He also serves on the Resolution Committee and Judicial Education Committee of the Circuit Judges’ Association and as chair of the Court Technology Commission for the Administrative Office of Courts.

Award of Merit

The Award of Merit is the highest honor given by the Alabama State Bar to a lawyer, and serves to recognize outstanding constructive service to the legal profession in Alabama.

  • David G. Hymer is a trial lawyer with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, in Birmingham. Hymer’s practice focuses on complex business and commercial litigation, including a significant plaintiff’s practice on behalf of corporate clients as well as more traditional corporate defense practice.

    Hymer is chair of the Alabama State Bar Board of Bar Examiners, and has served on the board since 2001. He was instrumental in Alabama becoming the first deep-South state to adopt the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) in 2011, developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).

    Hymer is a graduate of The University of Alabama where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1982, and later his J.D. from The University of Alabama School of Law in 1985. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, Alabama Defense Lawyers Association, American Bar Association, Alabama State Bar, Birmingham Bar Association and a fellow of the Alabama Law Foundation.

  • Leon Garrett is a native of Piedmont, Alabama, and served as a lay member of the Alabama State Bar Disciplinary Board Panel I. Garrett received his Bachelor of Science degree in English from the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). After teaching for several years, he received his Master’s in English from Columbia University in New York. Garrett later received his Master’s in Education Administration from The University of Alabama.

    Garrett taught English at Ouachita County High School in Camden, Arkansas, and later came to the Anniston City Schools. He became vice principal at Anniston High School, principal at Cobb Junior High School, assistant superintendent for the Anniston City Schools and superintendent for the Anniston City Schools.

  • Mike Ballard, a native of Mobile, Alabama, has been in private practice for 17 years and is an instructor at the University of South Alabama within the Continuing Education Program.

    Ballard received his undergraduate degree in accounting from The University of Alabama in 1975, his MBA from The University of Alabama in 1977 and his J.D. from The University of Alabama School of Law in 1978. In 1980, he received his Master of Laws in Taxation from Emory University.

    Ballard is a member of the Alabama State Bar Probate Section and Client Security Fund Committee, as well as the Mobile Bar Association Probate and Bankruptcy Sections. He is also active with the Baldwin Bar Association, Mobile Volunteer Lawyers Program and is a member of the Mobile Estate Planning Council Executive Committee.

Maud McLure Kelly Award – Hon. Caryl P. Privett

The Maud McLure Kelly Award is named for the first woman admitted to the practice of law in Alabama. In 1907, Kelly’s performance on the entrance exam at The University of Alabama Law Department merited her admission as a senior, the second woman ever to have been admitted to the school.

Judge Privett is a graduate of Vanderbilt University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970. She then received her J.D. from New York University in 1973, and became a circuit judge for Jefferson County in January of 2003.

Judge Privett worked for Crawford & Blacksher from 1973 to 1974, Adams Baker & Clemon from 1974 to 1976, Office of the U.S. Attorney from1976 to 1998, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama from 1995 to 1998 and was in private practice from 1998 to 2003. Judge Privett is also an adjunct professor at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

Judge Privett is active in the American Bar Association, National Conference of Women’s Bar Association, Alabama State Bar and the Alabama Academy of Attorney Mediators.

Chief Justice’s Professionalism Award – Robert P. Denniston

The Chief Justice’s Professionalism Award was created jointly by the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism and the Alabama State Bar. It recognizes a judge or lawyer for his or her outstanding contribution in advancing the professionalism of the legal profession in Alabama.

Robert P. Denniston was admitted to the bar shortly before his 21st birthday in 1941. During his service as a Mobile attorney, he has twice been awarded the Alabama State Bar Certificate of Merit for service to his profession. He has served on committees of the Alabama Law Institute and as a member of the Alabama Law Foundation and the American Bar Foundation. In 2011, Mr. Denniston was honored with a Joint Resolution of the Alabama Legislature commending him for 70 years of service. He is a past president of the Mobile Bar Association, Mobile County Chapter of the Red Cross and the Mobile Arts Council. Mr. Denniston served in the U.S. Navy, where he fought in both World War II and the Korean War. During his naval service, he received 13 campaign ribbons and retired as a Commander.

Commissioners’ Award – D. Patrick Harris

This award was created by the Board of Bar Commissioners in 1998 to recognize individuals who have had a long-standing commitment to the improvement of the administration of justice in Alabama.

Patrick Harris is a graduate of Auburn University and the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. An attorney since 1983, Harris has practiced law as managing partner of Harris & Harris, P.C., of Montgomery, serves as a special probate judge and a hearing officer for several state boards and is currently the secretary of the Alabama Senate.

Harris has a 40-year association with the Alabama Senate, having first worked for the Alabama Senate while a high school student and continuing through his college years and afterward. In 1991, Harris was elected assistant secretary of the Alabama Senate and served in that capacity for 20 years. Harris was elected secretary of the Alabama Senate on December 8, 2010, to succeed McDowell Lee.

Harris is past chairman of the American-Canadian Legislative and Parliamentary Clerks Committee. He serves on the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law Advisory Board, is past president of the Montgomery County Young Lawyers Association, has served as legal counsel to the Alabama Supercomputer Authority and is a member of the Pike Road Planning Commission. He is a certified arbitrator and mediator and a member of the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution.

William D. Scruggs, Jr., Service to the Bar Award

This award was created in 2002 in honor of the late Bill Scruggs, former state bar president to recognize outstanding and dedicated service to the Alabama State Bar.

  • Richard Gill Richard Gill is the senior partner at Copeland Franco Screws & Gill, P.A., in Montgomery. He has been an active litigator in a broad range of civil matters, including securities fraud (both plaintiff and defense), trusts and trust investment management, complex business litigation, insurance coverage, employment, personal injury, pharmaceutical pricing and investments.

    He is a fellow of both The American College of Trial Lawyers and The American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and is one of only two or three attorneys in the United States to have that dual distinction. He has been engaged in major litigation in areas as geographically diverse as Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Florida and Illinois.

    Gill received his Bachelor of Science degree from Vanderbilt University and graduated with his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. In his career, Mr. Gill has served as Senior Associate Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives on the Impeachment of President Richard Nixon, as vice chair of the committee which wrote Alabama’s Appellate Rules (and is author of the Official Commentary to such rules), as a disciplinary judge for the Alabama State Bar for many years and as a member of the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Disciplinary Committee.

  • James S. Ward is a member of the firm of Ward & Wilson, L.L.C. He is a 1971 graduate of the University of Minnesota and a 1974 graduate of The University of Alabama School of Law. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Alabama State Bar and Birmingham Bar Association.

    Ward’s practice involves civil litigation, primarily representing businesses and also representing municipalities and state health regulatory boards, as well as healthcare professionals. He is also municipal judge of Tarrant.

    Ward is currently a hearing officer for the Alabama Medicaid Agency and an administrative law judge for the State Health Planning Development Board.

    Ward is a past member of the Executive Committee of the Birmingham Bar Association and former treasurer of the Birmingham Bar Association.  He presently is vice chairman and was past chairman of the Alabama State Bar Client Security Fund Committee. He also served for many years as a Hearing Officer for Disciplinary Panel III of the Alabama State Bar and has served on various committees of the Birmingham Bar Association.

  • Billy Bedsole is a graduate of The University of Alabama where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Commerce, and received his J.D. from The University of Alabama School of Law. Immediately following his admittance to the bar, Bedsole began his career in private practice.

    Bedsole is chair of the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, and has served on the commission since 2011. He is a past vice president of the Alabama State Bar (2010), served on the bar’s executive committee (2007, 2008 and 2010) and was a member of the Alabama State Bar Board of Bar Commissioners (2003-2013). Bedsole was awarded the Howell Heflin Award for Honesty and Integrity in 2011 by the Mobile and Baldwin Bar Associations, recognized in 2013 by the Alabama State Bar and the Mobile Bar Association for 50 years of service and inducted into the Murphy High School Hall of Fame in 2014.

President’s Award

The President’s Award is presented to members of the bar who best exemplify the Alabama State Bar motto, “Lawyers Render Service.” The recipients are chosen by the current bar president.

  • Noah Funderburg, The University of Alabama School of Law, Tuscaloosa
  • Angela Slate Rawls, Huntsville
  • Edward S. Sledge, IV, Bradley Arant Boult & Cummings LLP, Birmingham
  • Edward A. “Ted” Hosp, Maynard Cooper & Gale PC, Birmingham
  • Barry A. Ragsdale, Sirote & Permutt, Birmingham
  • David R. Boyd, Balch & Bingham LLP, Montgomery
  • Alyce M. Spruell, Rosen Harwood PA, Tuscaloosa
  • David G. Hymer, Balch & Bingham LLP, Birmingham
  • Othni J. Lathram, Alabama Law Institute, Tuscaloosa
  • Robert C. Lockwood, Wilmer & Lee PA, Huntsville
  • Daniel F. Johnson, Lewis Brackin Flowers & Johnson, Dothan
  • George M. “Jack” Neal, Jr., Sirote & Permutt PC, Birmingham
  • Hon. John E. Ott, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge, Northern District
  • Robert P. “Bob” Denniston, Wright Green PC, Mobile
  • Samuel W. Irby, Irby & Heard PC, Fairhope
  • Jeanne Dowdle Rasco, City Attorney’s Office, Huntsville
  • Brandon D. Hughey, Armbrecht Jackson LLP, Mobile
  • Bryan E. Morgan, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, Montgomery
  • Hon. William H. “Bill” Bostick, III, Shelby County Circuit Court
  • Rebecca G. DePalma, White Arnold & Dowd PC, Birmingham
  • Pamela Bucy Pierson, The University of Alabama School of Law, Tuscaloosa

Local Bar Achievement Awards

This award was created in the early 1990’s to recognize the work of local bar associations for the programs or activities conducted in a particular year.

  • Escambia County Bar Association, Charles E. Johns, Jr., President
  • Birmingham Bar Association, Steven F. Casey, President
  • Tuscaloosa County Bar Association, Christopher A. Thigpen, President
  • Calhoun/Cleburne County Bar Association, Allison J. Miller, President

Albert Vreeland Pro Bono Award – Amy S. Creech, Rhodes & Creech (Huntsville)

Pro Bono Firm/Group Award – Cumberland Public Interest and Community Service Organization (Birmingham)

Pro Bono Law Student Award – Bradley C. Hargett, The University of Alabama School of Law (Tuscaloosa)

Pro Bono Mediation Award – Jana Russell Garner, Reeves & Stewart PC (Selma)