Federal Public Defender Donna Lee Elm receives Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Public Service Award from Stetson
Federal Public Defender Donna Lee Elm received the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Public Service Award during the annual Inns of Court Banquet on Jan. 24 in St. Petersburg.
Adam J. Foss, founder and president of Prosecutor Impact, provided the keynote address.
Elm is the Federal Defender for the Middle District of Florida. She has taken two cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, Curtis Johnson in 2011, and John Yates in 2014. Elm has served as an adjunct law professor at Arizona State University and Stetson University. Early in her career, after working in civil private practice, she joined the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office where she became Chief Trial Deputy. After 12 years of state criminal defense practice, she became Assistant Public Defender in the Phoenix Federal Defender Office. In 2008, she was appointed Federal Defender in the Middle District of Florida. Elm served as chair of the Arizona Bar’s Criminal Law Committee and the Arizona Supreme Court appointed her as a trial level hearing officer for attorney discipline cases for seven years. She was appointed commissioner of the Maricopa County Trial Commission. Active in the criminal defense bar, she served as its president in 2004. After moving to Florida for a federal appointment, she was asked to serve on the Joint Electronic and Technology Working group that produced the ESI Protocol, a guide for electronic discovery in federal criminal cases. Elm also served on the national Federal Defender IT planning group for six years, chairing the group for three years. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court recently appointed Elm to its Criminal Rules Committee. She also served on the Steering Committee of the Clemency Project 2014.
Foss is the former Assistant District Attorney in the Juvenile Division of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston, Massachusetts, and a fierce advocate for criminal justice reform and the importance of the role of the prosecutor in ending mass incarceration. During his nine years as a prosecutor, Foss collaborated with the courts and the community to develop programming with a positive impact, including the Roxbury CHOICE program, the SCDAO Reading Program for elementary students, and he helped found the first juvenile diversion program in Suffolk County to keep young people out of the school to prison pipeline. The Mandela Foundation recognized Foss as a 2017 Nelson Mandela Changemaker of the Year and Fast Company named him one of the Most Creative People in Business of 2017. The NAACP presented Foss with the 2017 Roy Wilkins Next Generation Leader Award and the Root named Foss one of the 100 most influential black Americans in 2016. In 2015, Foss was voted one of the country’s 40 most up-and-coming lawyers by the National Law Journal and in 2013, the Massachusetts Bar Association voted him Prosecutor of the Year. Foss is a visiting senior fellow at Harvard Law School, a fellow at the Open Society Foundation Leadership in Government initiative, and a director’s fellow in the MIT Media Lab. Foss’s 2016 TED talk exceeded two million views. Suffolk Law School named Foss the Graduate of the Last Decade.
The late Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., the award’s namesake, was a champion for justice and a nationally recognized leader in the legal aid movement. He dedicated more than 60 years to the legal profession, working to increase the legal services available to people who cannot afford them. Smith was president of the International Bar, American Bar, Florida Bar and Hillsborough County Bar Associations. A member of the Stetson University College of Law Hall of Fame, Smith joined the Stetson University College of Law faculty in 1954, and was named a distinguished professorial lecturer in 1991. He served as a member of the Carlton Fields law firm since 1953.
The Inns of Court has its roots in England, where barristers trained at various Inns of Court in London were required to live in the Inn and immerse themselves in the law by maintaining close contact with experienced lawyers.
Post date: Jan. 25, 2018
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