At every NLG #Law4thePeople Convention, we honor members and friends of the Guild whose exemplary work and activism capture the spirit of “law for the people.” Please join us in celebrating this year’s distinguished awardees!
Whether or not you’ll be attending the convention, please consider taking out a dinner journal ad or becoming a sponsor to congratulate our honorees or share a message of your own—all while supporting the NLG!
Keynote Speaker: Kshama Sawant
Kshama Sawant is not a career politician. An activist with Socialist Alternative, she brings a passion for social justice to her work as elected representative of Seattle’s working people. An outspoken socialist who has won election and reelection to the City Council, Kshama has taken no corporate campaign money, and has helped win working class victories like the $15/hour minimum wage and renters’ rights.
Law for the People Award: National Immigration Project of the NLG
The National Immigration Project of the NLG (NIPNLG) has worked for 47 years to combat the hyper-enforcement of U.S. immigration laws and partner with organized communities in struggle against mass deportation and detention policies of the United States. We continue to use our legal expertise in deportation defense and federal litigation on behalf of communities facing Trump’s normalization of hate. Through expert litigation, strategic advocacy, nationwide teaching and training, membership mobilization, technical assistance, community resources, and other cutting-edge legal tactics, NIPNLG provides a solid, progressive, legal foundation for the movement for immigrant rights.
Arthur Kinoy Award: Herman Bell
Herman Bell was born in Mississippi and moved to Brooklyn, NY as a boy. A talented athlete, he won a football scholarship to the University of California in the Bay Area. While in Oakland, Herman joined the Black Panther Party (BPP) and became a human rights activist in the Black community. He was convicted of killing two police officers in 1971 and was given a sentence of 25 years to life. Herman was one of thousands of incarcerated older people who was repeatedly denied parole for over a decade after completing his minimum sentence.
On April 27, 2018, Herman was granted parole on his eighth appearance before the parole board, after serving nearly 45 years in prison. His release was a result of important and urgent changes in the criminal legal system and parole regulations that are part of nationwide efforts to end mass incarceration.
During his years of incarceration, Herman acted as a mentor to thousands of incarcerated men, coached various sports teams, and was a leading voice in community initiatives outside the prison such as the Victory Gardens. In 1990 he earned his B.S. degree in psychology and sociology and then a Master’s in sociology from the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Herman is represented by NLG member and 2018 Ernie Goodman Award recipient Bob Boyle.
Carol Weiss King Award: Ann Benson
Annie Benson is the Senior Directing Attorney for the Washington Defender Association, Washington State’s resource center for public defense. For more than 25 years, Annie has had the privilege to work for social justice. Though collaborations with a wide array of colleagues, clients, communities, and public officials, she has won individual justice, secured systemic reforms, and built movements for social change. Annie has litigated and participated in cases at all levels of state and federal court, taught at the University of Washington School of Law, and served on the board of OneAmerica, the National Immigration Project of the NLG, and the National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women. She currently serves on Washington State’s Minority and Justice Commission.
Debra Evenson “Venceremos” Award: Judith Berkan and Marjorie Cohn
Judith Berkan is one of Puerto Rico’s leading human rights attorneys. She moved to Puerto Rico in1977, initially as attorney in NLG’s Puerto Rico Legal Project. Over four decade, she has represented independentistas, Vieques protesters, student strikers, the families of those murdered at COINTELPRO Maravilla, victims of harassment and surveillance by the PRPD Intelligence Division and FBI’s Cointelpro, women’s rights activists, communities struggling against gentrification, and victims of police violence. She also has represented institutions like the Colegio de Abogados against right-wing attacks. Co-chair of NLG’s Puerto Rico Subcommittee, along with Jan Susler and Natasha Bannan, she has worked tirelessly to shed light on and promote solidarity with the struggle of the Puerto Rican people for independence.
Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where she taught for 25 years. Joining the Guild in 1971, she has been a legal worker, law student, and attorney member. She served on the NLG’s national board for 15 years, as editor-in-chief of the Guild Practitioner (now NLG Review) for 10 years, and as NLG President from 2006-09. Over the last 20 years, her Guild work has primarily been with the NLG International Committee, including the Palestine Subcommittee, as well as the NLG’s Military Law Task Force. Marjorie writes weekly articles for Truthout on human rights, U.S. foreign policy, and the contradiction between the two. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.
Ernie Goodman Award: Bob Boyle
Bob Boyle’s legal/political activism began in college where he worked as a volunteer inside Green Haven Prison. There he met former Black Panther Party leader (BPP) Dhoruba Bin Wahad. Bob later began working on Dhouba’s civil rights law suit. That case, Wahad v. FBI resulted in the release of over 300,000 pages of FBI and NYPD COINTELPRO files and led, in 1990 to Dhoruba’s freedom. In that effort Bob worked with NLG members Liz Fink and Bob Bloom. A large part of Bob’s work has continued to be devoted to freeing imprisoned political activists. He has represented former BPP leader Eddie Conway, freed in 2014 after 44 years of confinement, and 2018 Arthur Kinoy Award recipient Herman Bell, who won parole in April 2018 after 45 years confinement. Along with Jill Shellow, Bob won compassionate released for NLG attorney Lynne Stewart in 2013.
Legal Worker Award: Carey Lamprecht
Carey Lamprecht is a certified paralegal who has worked in civil rights law, criminal defense, and coordinated NLG legal support for 17 years Carey previously worked as a staff litigation assistant at the ACLU of Northern California, and has worked with NLG attorneys to challenge civil rights violations and advocate for improved policing policy in the Bay Area. Carey is a legal support and Legal Observer coordinator for the NLG SF Bay Area Chapter, and currently sits on the NLG’s national Mass Defense Steering Committee. Her commitment to NLG work led her to become a certified paralegal, and she currently freelances doing court-appointed work for the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) federal panel of the Northern District of California on capital appeals, and has been retained for civil rights cases around jail conditions throughout the area.
C.B. King Award: Frank Kearl
Frank Kearl graduated Order of the Coif from Fordham, where he was active in the public interest community. He strives to use the law as a lever for justice. Through Fordham’s NLG chapter he organized initiatives, events, and installations focused on workers’ rights, immigrant justice, prison abolition, and democratic justice. Frank started a Critical Race Theory of the 1L Curriculum luncheon series and a CRT Symposium. He spent his 1L summer with Demos, working on NVRA litigation, and his 2L summer in Mexico City at ProDESC, developing a transnational labor justice project. Originally from San Antonio, Frank now calls Brooklyn home.