We’ve got a really big show this year for the Attorneys of the Year.
We have a big show that we’re honored to bring you every year, but this year has brought us some extra-big teams. Omnibus lawsuits, if you will.
The bankruptcy reorganization of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis topped the list for size. Seven law firms were involved — Briggs and Morgan, Maslon, Manty & Associates, Buckley & Jensen, DeWitt Mackall Crounse & Moore, Stinson Leonard Street, and Jeff Anderson & Associates. Eighteen lead lawyers had the support of many other lawyers and staff and the result was a $210 million plan that was approved by 99.5 percent of sexual abuse survivors. It also included state-of-the-art child protection protocols and allowed the archdiocese to continue its services.
Three law firms and in house counsel led Arctic Cat to three patent victories — a major trial victory and two big wins in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. One case upheld a $49 million infringement award, and the other two were defense wins for the teams from Fish & Richardson, Kutak Rock, Hansen Reynolds and Arctic Cat.
Nine lawyers from Gray Plant Mooty Mooty & Bennett, working pro bono, secured a ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court that upheld the plaintiffs’ claims under the Education, Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses that Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts are segregated in violation of the Minnesota Constitution.
Six present or former lawyers from Maslon ended Douglas Tyrone Armstrong’s 10 years on death row in Texas. Although Armstrong is still serving a life sentence, the fight for his exoneration continues.
Two lawyers from Nilan Johnson Lewis and two from the ACLU-Minnesota joined forces in Promvongsa v. Joswiak, et al. to secure a $60,000 verdict for police misconduct from the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force and the city of Worthington. The settlement also included significant policy changes concerning police use of force and accountability.
Our final group is three prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office who secured the convictions of four co-defendants in the Starkey Laboratories $20 million fraud trial after a six-week trial that has been called the most important federal trial in Minnesota in many years.
These attorneys would suffice to form a great cast of award winners, but there are also two sets of partners and 15 individuals who have served their clients, the state, nonprofits and the profession in ways that demonstrate the variety of the Minnesota legal community.
And, notably, we have seven honorees for Outstanding Service to the Profession. Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel devoted 29 years to service on the U.S. District Court and brought the court to the community and to students. Also serving in U.S. District Court is Federal Defender Katherian Roe. Tom Johnson’s storied career has included founding Cornerhouse, a child advocacy center and heading up the Council on Crime and Justice.
Attorney Susan Link has made the Wills for Heroes program a huge success, Don Liu has fostered diversity and inclusion at Target Corp., Sue Stingley brought alternative dispute resolution to the mainstream of legal practice and Patrick Costello developed a philanthropic model to help preserve farmland and the farming way of life.
So you see why we call this a really big show. Thank you for joining us.
—Barbara L. Jones
Attorneys of the Year