Nov. 12 Gala Dinner sets stage for Gold Medal and Hennessey Awards presentation

Issue November 2008 By Tricia Oliver

Gartenberg and Armstrong receive high honors at Boston event

The MBA’s Annual Gala Dinner on Nov. 12 featured a special awards presentation including the MBA Gold Medal Award and the Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award. These high honors will be presented to Lee J. Gartenberg and the Hon. Christopher J. Armstrong (ret.) respectively.

“Recipients Lee Gartenberg and Judge Christopher Armstrong were chosen in large part because they exemplify the timeless tenets of leadership in the law,” said MBA President Edward W. McIntyre.

The MBA’s Gold Medal Award is reserved for individuals who have provided outstanding legal services that have benefited the legal profession in Massachusetts, while the Hennessey Award is awarded to federal or state judges within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and dedication to improving the administration of justice and upholding the highest traditions for public service.

Gartenberg devotes career and bar involvement to public service

For more than 25 years, Gartenberg has served as the director for Inmate Legal Services for the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office, providing and directing legal services in a county detention system for more than 1,000 inmates.

A longtime MBA member and leader, Gartenberg has served the association in many capacities. In addition to being immediate past chair of the Criminal Justice Section, he has also worked to lead and serve the Judicial Administration and Individual Rights & Responsibilities sections. He also has had a very visible role and made important contributions to the MBA’s Budget and Finance Committee, Executive Management Committee and House of Delegates.

“I consider this upcoming honor an acknowledgement by the MBA that it values those practitioners who have chosen to use the privilege of practicing law to ensure access to justice to those that face the greatest obstacles,” said Gartenberg. “I feel that all attorneys who work in legal services, government agencies or those who volunteer their time to protect access to justice share this award with me.”

Armstrong seen as luminary of the Massachusetts courts

For more than four decades, Armstrong, the former chief justice of the Appeals Court, has been dedicated to public service. Prior to his appointment to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, he served the public in a number of roles, from assistant attorney general to chief legal counsel to former Massachusetts Gov. Francis W. Sargent.

After being sworn in as one of the first justices of the newly established Massachusetts Appeals Court in 1972, Armstrong served that court for 34 years. He was appointed chief justice in 2000, after which he led an expansion of the Appeals Court bench from 14 to 25 justices. At the time of his retirement in 2006, Armstrong was the commonwealth’s longest-serving judge.

“I regard the news of this award as a tribute less to me personally than to the Appeals Court that I had the honor to serve,” said Armstrong. “I am particularly honored to receive the Edward F. Hennessey Award since I found him to be an exceptional SJC chief justice, as well as a comfortable and wise colleague with a wonderful sense of humor. Ed Hennessey was a lawyer’s lawyer and judge’s judge.”

McIntyre explained that the presentation of these two awards is not necessarily annual event. They were last presented in 2006, when Michael S. Greco, past president of both the American Bar Association and the MBA, accepted the Gold Medal Award and U.S. District Judge William G. Young accepted the Hennessey Award.

In addition to the awards presentation, the Nov. 12 Annual Gala Dinner featured Professor Leonard L. Riskin’s keynote address on “Mindfulness in the Law.”