2014 California Gubernatorial Candidate Dr. Robert Ornelas supported the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) at their fifteenth annual Access to Justice Dinner on Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The Access to Justice Dinner recognized distinguished individuals, law firms and corporations for their commitment to social justice and the communities LAFLA serves as L.A.’s front line law firm for poor and low-income people, and raised funds to help sustain LAFLA’s programs and services that afford access to justice to individuals and families in poor and low-income households endangered by domestic violence, slum housing, lack of access to medical care, and other deprivations of povert
“It was an honor to support LAFLA’s poverty law specialists, those that defend the vulnerable and disenfranchised people. I have been an advocate for battered women, working poor families, the elderly, disabled, homeless, at-risk veterans and at-risk youth for years throughout the United States and Mexico. This awards event has opened my eyes that we are not alone in this fight to defend the disenfranchised,” stated Dr. Robert Ornelas
Gary Blasi, Professor of Law Emeritus, UCLA School of Law and longtime LAFLA board member was honored with a special Access to Justice Lifetime Achievement Award for his passionate advocacy of behalf of the poor and undeserved communities LAFLA serves and his exemplary commitment to the legal services community as a lawyer and a teacher. After a distinguished 20- year record of public interest practice, including as a LAFLA staff attorney and founder of LAFLA’s Eviction Defense Center, Professor Blasi joined the UCLA Law faculty in 1991 and is one of the founding faculty members of the law school’s David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. Blasi practices, teaches, conducts research and writes about advocacy on behalf of children in substandard schools, homeless families and individuals, low-income tenants, low wageworkers and victims of discrimination. He has received numerous awards for distinction in the field of public interest law and for providing legal services to the poor, most recently the ACLU of Southern California’s 2012 Humanitarian Award and the State Bar of California’s 2013 Loren Miller Legal Services Award.
The Maynard Toll Award for Distinguished Public Service was presented to the Honorable William A. Norris, business litigator and a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for 17 years. During his career on the bench, Judge Norris wrote landmark opinions in many areas, including securities, tax, antitrust, class action litigation, election law, the First Amendment, and ERISA. He currently is a member of the litigation practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, primarily focusing on appellate litigation. Judge Norris is the founding president of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. His career highlights also include serving as president of the Los Angeles Police Commission on appointment by Mayor Tom Bradley, and as a member of the California State Board of Education and the Board of Trustees of California State University on appointment by Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown.
Steptoe & Johnson LLP received the Pro Bono Service Award for their exemplary pro bono partnership with LAFLA to protect the rights of poor tenants, many of them disabled, who were displaced when the owners of the Huntington Hotel in downtown Los Angeles illegally evicted them and attempted to rent the newly renovated units at vastly increased rates in violation of City of Los Angeles laws and codes.
AMS, The Resolution Experts received the Corporate Achievement Award in recognition of the contributions of JAMS and the JAMS Foundation in supporting collaborative processes for resolving differences and promoting innovation in conflict resolution, and the dedication of hundreds of hours of pro bono services by many JAMS arbitrators.