The Marbut Report: Federal bench and Bar celebrate ‘Spirit of Giving’

The Marbut Report: Federal bench and Bar celebrate ‘Spirit of Giving’

The Federal Bar Association Jacksonville chapter’s annual “Spirit of Giving” awards recognize those who have made notable contributions in service to others.

“It’s a testament to the legal community in this area that we haven’t run out of people to honor,” said U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan, who presented the 12th annual awards at The River Club.

Attorney Andrew Bonderud was recognized for his service as a volunteer attorney representing federal criminal defendants who are incarcerated at the time of their trial.

Corrigan said the federal court’s Middle District of Florida, including the court in Jacksonville, has a “heavy prisoner docket” and Bonderud’s pro bono representation “benefits his client, his opponents and the court.”

Also recognized were members of Jacksonville’s Guardian ad Litem program. Staff and volunteers are advocates for children who have entered the judicial system in matters such as adoption and temporary custody.

The program usually serves clients in state court, but occasionally advocates in the Middle District in matters involving international parental custody actions, Corrigan said.

“Going above and beyond expectations is what Guardian ad Litem does every time the federal court calls,” he said.

The keynote speaker at the luncheon was Kathy Para, pro bono director at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.

 She coordinates volunteer attorneys who assist low-income residents with a range of legal matters from landlord and tenant issues to last will and testament documents.

“I have a ringside seat for the connection between justice and giving,” Para said.

She was surprised after her speech to receive a Spirit of Giving Award in recognition of her service to the legal community and low-income clients since she joined JALA in 2009.

Corrigan also cited Para’s coordination of the federal court’s Bankruptcy for Pro Se Litigants program that arranges legal counsel for people who must represent themselves before the court.

“And she convinced four federal judges to pass out candy at JALA’s Halloween event,” he said.

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor