Recognizing his extensive contributions toward improving the legal system, the American Judicature Society has given Venable Chair Benjamin R. Civiletti its Justice Award for 2005.
The Justice Award is the Society's highest honor, awarded annually to an individual who has made significant advances to improving the administration of justice nationally. Past recipients have included former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger and former FBI and CIA director William Webster, along with prominent jurists, public officials, and even institutions such as the League of Women Voters and the National Judicial College.
Mr. Civiletti's career amply fits the Society's mission, from his many years of private practice as a trial and appellate attorney to his long tenure in the U.S. Justice Department, culminating in his term as U.S. Attorney General from 1979-81 under President Jimmy Carter. Mr. Civiletti also served on the board of directors of the AJS from 1983-1988.
AJS president Larry Hammond, who worked alongside Mr. Civiletti at the Justice Department, called him "a beacon to the supervising and line lawyers. He enjoyed the deepest respect from his colleagues while shouldering the extraordinary responsibilities of attorney general during the Iran hostage crisis and the challenging last year of the Carter administration."
"At a time when our nation's judicial system has frequently become a political wedge issue, it is critical to have an organization like the American Judicature Society playing a leading role in promoting the integrity of our legal system," said Mr. Civiletti. "I am honored to receive the AJS's Justice Award."
As Attorney General, Mr. Civiletti argued on behalf of the American captives held in Iran before the International Court of Justice. He also argued before the U.S. Supreme Court for the right to denaturalize Nazi war criminals. Other notable accomplishments while he headed the Justice Department included the promulgation of open trial guidelines and the publication of a national report outlining judicial protocols for the investigation and prosecution of white-collar criminals. He also served as deputy attorney general, and assistant attorney general for the criminal division.
Since joining Venable, Mr. Civiletti has chaired both the American Bar Association Litigation Section and the Maryland Governor's Commission on Welfare Policy.
"Ben Civiletti has dedicated his life to improving America's legal system, through a distinguished career in both public service and private practice," said James L. Shea, Venable's Managing Partner. "His enthusiasm for the social benefit of the law has been a prime motivator behind Venable's commitment to pro bono social justice work. Ben has also mentored a generation of younger attorneys in legal ethics and professional responsibility."
The American Judicature Society, founded in 1913, is an independent, nonpartisan organization of judges, lawyers, and members of the public who seek to improve the justice system. AJS brings a public perspective to justice system issues. Its mission is to promote an independent and qualified judiciary and fair system of justice.
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