Larry Hammond Receives the 2008 Justice Award

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Larry A. Hammond, renowned criminal defense attorney and past President of AJS, received the 2008 Justice Award, the American Judicature Society's highest honor, on April 24 in a ceremony at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Arizona.

There was a triple play-a rare feat in baseball-at the Stadium that evening. Family, the fair administration of justice, and baseball are three passions of Larry Hammond, and all three were acknowledged during the ceremony with more than 325 people in attendance, including Ray Girdler, a man who spent nearly a decade in prison for setting a fire that killed his wife and daughter-a crime he did not commit. Hammond's work helped to prove the fire was accidental and Ray Girdler is now a free man. His case is emblematic of Larry Hammond's tremendous efforts in righting the wrongs of the criminal justice system.

At the ceremony AJS President Judge John R. Tunheim stated that "Very few people in the 95 year history of AJS have equaled Larry's dedication to the Society. He has not only contributed to a much better America, but I think he greatly enhanced the influence of AJS." Judge Tunheim described Hammond as "a man of great intellect with a strong passion for justice" who is "one of the foremost criminal lawyers of our time and one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known."

H. Thomas Wells Jr., President-Elect of the American Bar Association and former AJS Board member, emphasized the "longtime partnership" of AJS and the ABA, dating "back to at least 1938, when the American Bar Association gave [its] highest honor, the ABA Medal, to the founder of AJS, Herbert Harley." Wells noted that the message and work of AJS "has informed me through my ABA leadership, especially now as I prepare to serve as president of the ABA." "Larry Hammond," Wells continued, "richly deserves to be recognized for his contributions to improving our justice system-particularly for his work in representing indigent defendants in capital and other criminal cases."

Janet Reno, former Attorney General of the United States, and Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte, past President of AJS and the ABA, in abstentia, delivered the ceremony's joint keynote address. Larry's partner at Osborn Maledon, P.A., Mark Harrison, delivered the remarks of Sandy D'Alemberte, who was unable to attend due to a last minute conflict. D'Alemberte observed that Hammond, "Throughout his career, has upheld his lawyer's oath never to reject, from any consideration personal to himself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed."

Attorney General Reno recalled the cold winter day in January 2003 when she first met Larry Hammond. "It was exciting. He was after progress and reform. He wanted it, but he wanted it with an intensity that was low key and compelling, and it made a difference." She noted Hammond's ability to bring people together and added "the time has come when we have got to follow Larry, and whomever he brings with him, into building justice in America."

Justice Andrew D. Hurwitz of the Arizona Supreme Court, Judge David G. Campbell of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, and attorney Tom Henze of Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A., presented the Justice Award to Hammond. Justice Hurwitz described "Larry's enormous capacity for hard work," his willingness to go "out of his way to encourage an inexperienced lawyer in a difficult situation," and the "critical part of Larry's gift to the law [is that] he mentors enormously well, both for lawyers in his firm and in the community at large. …