Last week, Public Justice was honored to join our supporters, advocates, and allies for an incredible night of celebrating and recognizing this year's changemakers during our Virtual Gala and Awards Presentation, held Wednesday, July 21.

This year, we celebrated the work of civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who was named Public Justice's 2021 Champion of Justice: "Thank you, Public Justice, for being the social justice engineers to make the world better for all of our children, those social justice engineers for change and equality that Thurgood Marshall often talked about," Crump said in accepting the award. "We have to continue to make sure marginalized communities are well-armed to challenge the system that disenfranchises them. We will continue to tackle injustice everywhere."
We were also excited to announce the recipients of Public Justice's 2021 Trial Lawyer of the Year award, which was presented to two incredible legal teams for their landmark victories on behalf of thousands of Native Hawaiians and an Ohio man subjected to police brutality in the City of East Cleveland. Our Executive Director Paul Bland presented the award to attorneys who worked to expose one of the most graphic examples of department-wide police corruption, and to obtain justice for 2,700 elderly Hawaiian class members who were denied the homesteads guaranteed to them for over two decades (more details below).

Finally, we bid farewell to our President Eric L. Cramer and welcomed incoming President-Elect Dan Bryson. "Public Justice is fortunate to have a committed, talented, and passionate staff, and thousands of committed members and supporters that keep us moving forward each and every day," said Eric in his farewell speech.

As we reflect on this past month, Eric's words ring truer than ever. Whether you're an attorney member of Public Justice or a grassroots advocate fighting for the issues we all care about, we're so grateful and proud to have you on our team. A special thank you to this year's sponsors (listed here and below) for your support in helping make the Gala a night to remember. If you haven't already, join us today as we continue creating lasting change.
Public Justice's 2021 Trial Lawyer of the Year award was awarded to two legal teams - one of which involved taking on police brutality and corruption in the City of East Cleveland, and the other involving a historic breach-of-trust lawsuit granting thousands of Native Hawaiians their long-awaited homesteads. Learn more about each winner below.
Black v. Hicks

In 2012, East Cleveland man Arnold Black was arrested, beat up by police and locked in a storage closet for four days before being placed in jail.

A Cuyahoga County jury awarded $50 million from the city of East Cleveland to Arnold Black for his painful ordeal that exposed one of the most graphic examples of department-wide police misconduct and corruption.  

Team: Robert F. (Bobby) DiCello, Mark A. DiCello, and Justin Hawal of DiCello Levitt Gutzler LLC, Mentor, Ohio

Read the full case profile here.
Kalima v. Hawai'i

For two decades, the plaintiffs—the majority over the age of 75—waited for their homesteads, a time during which many spent decades either homeless, poor or living with family members.

Recognizing this, the Court ruled that the state of Hawai’i had breached its trust duty to Native Hawai’ian beneficiaries of the Hawai’ian Home Lands Trust program by not awarding homestead lots in a timely manner.

Team: Thomas Grande of Grande Law Offices; Waimānalo, Hawai’i; Vivien Akiyama Lopez of Grande Law Offices; Waimānalo, Hawai’i and Carl M. Varady of Law Office of Carl M. Varady in Honolulu, Hawai’i

Read the full case profile here.
The other finalist case for the award was James v. Global Tel*Link. Read the full announcement here and view the documentary videos about each of the outstanding finalist teams on Public Justice's YouTube channel.
Public Justice welcomes this month's new membersyour unwavering commitment to our mission to combat injustice helps us reach our goals.

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