Awards Presented at LSBA Annual Meeting to Members, Professor, Students


Ten awards were presented during the Annual Meeting to LSBA members, a law school professor and students for services to the Association and the legal profession.

• President’s Awards

Three LSBA members received 2017 President’s Awards. Recipients were chosen by 2016-17 LSBA President Darrel J. Papillion and were recognized for services to the Association. Recognized were R. Christian Johnsen, Washington, D.C.; Keenan K. Kelly, Natchitoches; and Angela White-Bazile, New Orleans.

R. Christian Johnsen, senior partner in the Washington, D.C., office of the law firm Jones Walker LLP, was recognized for his exemplary efforts in annually assisting the Louisiana State Bar Association with its ABA Day visits on Capitol Hill, an opportunity for Bar leadership to meet with legislators on various legal issues. He has developed strong relationships with key committees on Capitol Hill, including the Senate Commerce Committee, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. He is a member of the Executive Committee and the board of directors of the Coast Guard Foundation, serves as vice chair of the board of directors of the American Maritime Congress and is a member of the Advisory Board of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia.

Keenan K. Kelly, a partner in the Natchitoches law firm Kelly & Townsend, L.L.C., was recognized for his exemplary accomplishments as a member and chair of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s (LSBA) Legislation Committee. A graduate of Northwestern State University in 1990 and Loyola University College of Law in 1993, he has been a member of the LSBA’s House of Delegates since 2004. He has served on the Legislation Committee since 2008, chairing the committee since 2014. He is a member of the Natchitoches Parish Bar Association (vice president since 1996), the Natchitoches Inn of Court, the American Bar Association, the American Association of Justice, the Louisiana Bar Foundation, the Louisiana Association of Justice, the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Trial Lawyers’ Association.

Angela White-Bazile, executive counsel of the Louisiana Supreme Court under Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson, was recognized for her exemplary efforts in advancing the partnership between the Louisiana Supreme Court and the Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA). She received her Juris Doctor degree in 1996 from Southern University Law Center and earned a doctorate of philosophy in psychology and biblical counseling. A practicing attorney for more than 20 years, she has worked as a research attorney, a judicial law clerk, an associate attorney (Dr. Kevin U. Stephens and Associates and Thornhill Law Firm), an associate professor of law (Baton Rouge College of Paralegals) and in-house counsel for Prudential Life Insurance. She is a member of the LSBA’s Bar Governance Committee and the Diversity Committee. She also is a member of the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association and the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, Inc.

• Catherine D. Kimball Award for the Advancement of the Administration of Justice

Judge (Ret.) Kathleen Stewart Richey
of Baton Rouge received the 2017 Catherine D. Kimball Award for the Advancement of the Administration of Justice. She became the president/CEO of LouisianaChildren.org in May 2015. She began her career as an attorney representing children in child dependency and delinquency matters. During this time, she served on the Children’s Code Project Committee which drafted the Louisiana law regarding children’s issues. In 1991, she became the first juvenile judge in East Baton Rouge Parish, serving until 2015. During her 24 years on the bench, she was instrumental in establishing Capital Area CASA and was named Louisiana CASA Judge of the Year in 1997. She is a member of the Louisiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (president in 2001) and chaired the Department of Children and Family Services’ Liaison Committee from 2001-08. She has served on the Legislative Task Force on Legal Representation in Child in Need of Care (CINC) Matters which created the Child Advocacy Program in Louisiana. She is the recipient of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Children’s Law Award and the Baton Rouge Children’s Coalition “For the Love of Children” Award.

• Stephen T. Victory Memorial Award

The Leadership LSBA 2015-2016 Class received the 2017 Stephen T. Victory Memorial Award, recognizing outstanding contributions to the Louisiana Bar Journal. For its class project, the Leadership Class coordinated a special issue of the Louisiana Bar Journal to commemorate the LSBA’s 75th Anniversary. The Class members wrote articles, compiled historic information and photographs, and conducted interviews with prominent Bar members on the past and the future of the profession. Class members are Shayna Lynn Beevers Morvant, Gretna; Simone B. Boustead, New Orleans; L. Sean Corcoran, Lake Charles; Mark R. Deethardt, New Orleans; Jacqueline M. Epstein, New Orleans; Jamie Polozola Gomez, Hammond; Cassandra R. Hewlings, New Orleans; Tara R. Jones, Shreveport; Tracy O. Joseph, New Orleans; P.J. Kee, Sr., New Orleans; Richard D. Lamb III, Shreveport; Lisha C. Landry, Baton Rouge; Amani C. Perkins, Alexandria; Kimberly R. Silas, New Orleans; David M. Stein, New Orleans; Micah J. Fincher (co-chair), New Orleans; and Lynette Roberson (co-chair), Baton Rouge.

• John A. “T-Jean” Hernandez III Memorial Award

Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center Professor Alain A. Levasseur of Baton Rouge received the 2017 John A. “T-Jean” Hernandez III Memorial Award, presented for achievements in Francophone leadership. He obtained an MCL degree in 1966 from Tulane University where he returned to teach in 1968. He joined the LSU Law Center faculty in 1977. He is a member of the International Academy of Comparative Law, the American Association for the Comparative Study of Law, the Société de Législation Comparée, the Association Henri Capitant and the International Association of Legal Methodology. He also is a member of several boards, including the Fondation pour le Droit Continental, the Revue Internationale de Droit Comparé, E-Competition, the Revue Trimestrielle de Droit Civil, El Foro de Derecho Mercantil, the American Journal of Comparative Law and the LSU Center for French and Francophone Studies.

• Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson Trailblazer Award

Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby
with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans received the 2017 Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson Trailblazer Award. Judge Roby, who took her oath of office in 1999, was the first African-American woman to serve as president of the Federal Magistrate Judges Association (FMJA). She received the FMJA’s 2016 Founder’s Award for her work resulting in increased salaries of U.S. magistrate judges. While in private practice, she was the first African-American female in Louisiana to represent General Motors Corporation in defense of its automotive products. As a partner with the law firm Vial Hamilton Koch & Knox, L.L.P., she assisted in the hiring process and worked toward diversifying the practice. A strong believer in pipeline initiatives, Judge Roby has worked to improve clerkship opportunities in the federal judiciary. As the coordinating judicial officer of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Suit Up for the Future Program, she annually inspires high school students to consider the legal profession. She has traveled to Kenya as part of the Lawyers Without Borders program and brought U.S. case management best practices to magistrates in the country. She served as co-chair of the American Bar Association Litigation Section’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and was a member of the Federal Bar Association’s Ethics Committee and the Eastern District’s Bench Bar Communications Committee and Technology Committee.

• Guardian of Diversity Award

The Louisiana State University Hispanic Law Students Association (HSLA) in Baton Rouge received the 2017 Guardian of Diversity Award. Chartered in 2015, the organization’s goals are awareness and integration. Awareness involves educating HLSA members about the federal, state and local Hispanic legal realm. Integration involves assimilating law students into the Hispanic legal community, especially those Spanish speakers who can utilize their bilingual abilities. Among its events, HLSA hosts the roundtable discussion “Que Pasa, PMH?” where students can practice and learn Spanish phrases while discussing current Latin American political events. HLSA President Tatiana Torres said the pressing need for Spanish speakers in the legal community became evident in the lack of translation services during disaster relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina and the Baton Rouge floods. Undocumented workers functioned as day laborers in the clean-up and rebuilding efforts but many were not paid for their labor. Spanish-speaking lawyers and law students (regardless of ethnicity) are needed to assist in these cases.

• Louisiana Center for Law and Civic Education Civics in Action Award

Desmond LeBlanc
, a senior at Warren Easton Charter High School in New Orleans, received the 2017 Civics in Action Award. The award recognizes an outstanding middle or high school student who has demonstrated outstanding civic virtue and involvement in the community. LeBlanc participates in the Grow Dat Program, a sustainable youth farming initiative, and the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Suit Up for the Future High School Summer Internship Program. He also is a research assistant in Tulane University’s Psychology Department. He is a school ambassador, a Student Council member, a member of the National Honor Society and a trumpet player in the marching band.

• Louisiana Bar Foundation’s Curtis R. Boisfontaine Trial Advocacy Award

Emmett C. Sole
of Lake Charles received the 2017 Louisiana Bar Foundation’s Curtis R. Boisfontaine Trial Advocacy Award. Currently “of counsel” with the Lake Charles law firm Stockwell, Sievert, Viccellio, Clements & Shaddock, L.L.P., Sole completed his undergraduate studies at Louisiana State University and received his Juris Doctor degree from LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center in 1968. He has an active litigation, mediation and arbitration practice. He served as a special assistant attorney general for the State of Louisiana in boundary litigation and Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act litigation. In 1999, he played a major role for a large industrial client in securing a no liability jury verdict in a high-profile environmental civil action in Calcasieu Parish. He is chair emeritus and a past president (2001-03) of the Louisiana State Law Institute and has been a member of the Council for more than 30 years. He is a Charter Fellow of the Louisiana Bar Foundation and a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation (Louisiana State chair, 2003-10). He served on the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Board of Governors, in the House of Delegates, on the Nominating Committee and is the immediate past chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section and vice chair of the Fidelity, Surety and Construction Law Section. He is a member of the Southwest Louisiana Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the International Association of Defense Counsel.


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