Bar News - February 15, 2017
2017 Midyear Meeting Awards Announced
The NH Bar Association recently announced the recipients of the following awards, to be presented at the NHBA Midyear Meeting on Friday, March 10, at the Radisson/Center of NH in Manchester:
Distinguished Service to the Public Award
Hon. Joseph N. Laplante
Hon. Joseph Laplante
Hon. Joseph Laplante, chief judge of the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire, has been selected to receive the NH Bar Association 2017 Distinguished Service to the Public Award. Laplante has long been devoted to public service, not just on the bench, but also on behalf of the Bar and in his community. Laplante started his career in private practice and entered public service in 1998, working as a state and federal prosecutor prior to being appointed to the federal bench in 2007. Laplante is an adjunct law professor at the UNH School of Law and Boston College Law School. He is vice chair of the Rivier University Board of Trustees and sits on the Georgetown University Alumni Association Board of Governors. He serves as co-chair of the NH Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission. Laplante is a member of the Webster-Batchelder American Inn of Court, and is past chair of two NH Bar Association committees: the New Lawyers Committee and the Professionalism Committee. He is vice chair of the Board of Overseers of the St. Paul’s School Advanced Studies Program and has served on the Nashua Region Board of the NH Charitable Foundation, the Nashua Police Athletic League and Youth Safe Haven, and the St. Christopher School Advisory Board. He coordinates the youth wrestling program for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua and is a boxing referee, licensed to officiate both professional and amateur bouts.
Outstanding Service in Public Sector/Public Interest Law Award
Maureen F. O’Neil
Maureen O’Neil, clerk of the Rockingham County Superior Court, will receive the 2017 NH Bar Association Outstanding Service in the Public Sector/Public Interest Law Award. Maureen O’Neil has served the state for nearly 25 years, first in the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office and now as clerk of the Rockingham County Superior Court. O’Neill served as an assistant county attorney in the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office from 1992 to 2015, and as first assistant county attorney from 2004 to 2015, when she took on the role of court clerk. As a prosecutor, she prosecuted dozens of major cases, mentored new attorneys and worked closely with law school interns. She excelled in her commitment to the prosecution of child abuse cases, elder abuse cases, violent sexual assaults, among others. As first assistant county attorneys, she provided guidance and advice to various committees, police departments, and attorneys. She also helped keep the attorneys in her office informed about new Supreme Court rulings and worked to maintain open lines of communication across various stakeholder groups in the criminal justice system.
Vickie M. Bunnell Award for Community Service
Robert C. Varney
Robert Varney, New Hampshire’s longest-sitting judge, has been selected to receive the 2017 Vickie M. Bunnell Award for Community Service. Varney presided over the Wolfeboro District Court from 1974 until his retirement at age 70 in 2014. On being a judge, Varney has said: “When they hand you that black robe, you are blessed with the presumption that you are fair-minded, that you gave the goodwill and integrity to see all sides. You have an obligation to live up to those presumptions. No one does, but everyone tries.” Like the award’s namesake, Varney sat as a part-time justice while maintaining a full-time legal practice at a small firm in a country setting. Varney spent many years as chair of the NH Supreme Court’s Professional Conduct Committee. He served as Wolfeboro’s Town Moderator for 27 years. He also mentored many younger lawyers throughout his career. Judge Varney firmly believes in the value of community, both in his hometown and among lawyers in New Hampshire, and consistently found ways to express and reinforce that belief through his words and actions both on and off the bench.
President’s Award for Service to the Profession
David M. Rothstein
David Rothstein, deputy director of the NH Public Defender Program and chair of the NH Supreme Court’s Professional Conduct Committee, has been selected to receive a special 2017 NH Bar Association President’s Award for Service to the Profession. He formerly served as deputy chief appellate defender and has worked at the NHPD since 1989, handling some of the most complex criminal defense work in the state. He now oversees the hiring and training of new staff attorneys at the NHPD, among other duties. Rothstein’s outstanding leadership and dedication to his work makes it a pleasure to serve and collaborate with him. In addition to preparing for and participating in PCC meetings, he presents the committee’s input and positions to the NH Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules whenever rules that affect the NH Attorney Discipline Office are at issue. He participates in interviewing new hires at the ADO and serves as liaison between the PCC and the NH Supreme Court and completes countless other tasks in service to the state and the profession.
RELATED: Read about the Pro Bono Award Recipients to be honored at the 2017 Midyear Meeting.