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June 2011 Issue

President’s Podium

District Court Clerk's Corner

The Gavel: "State of the Court"

Law School Corner

Members in the News

Profile of Chief Judge Solomon Oliver Jr.

Bankruptcy Law Committee Update

Criminal Law Committee Update

The FBA Northern District of Ohio Chapter Establishes Its First Diversity Committee

FBA Mid-Year Meeting In Alexandria, And A Few Notes On The Proposed FBA Constitution Amendments

Collins & Scanlon and FBA-NDOC Co-Sponsor St. Patrick's Antitrust Seminar

FBA Northern District Of Ohio Chapter Joins In Memorial Tribute

IN MEMORIAM: Stanley Morton Fisher (1928-2011)

IN MEMORIAM: The Hon. Sam H. Bell (1925-2010)

Congratulations to the Garrett Morgan Mock Trial Team

Tribute to Judge Kathleen M. O’Malley

The Historical Investiture of Judge Benita Y. Pearson

FBA Sections and Divisions Expanding

Congratulations to the FBA-NDOC's Super Lawyers and Rising Stars


Write an Article

New Members

Roster of Officers and Directors

Calendar of Events

Become a Member

Federal Bar Association Northern District of Ohio Chapter | | (877) 322-6364

President’s Podium

Kip Bollin

By Kip T. Bollin

How have you been involved in your Federal Bar Association? Once upon a time, a mentor of mine told me that I should get involved in two professional organizations, one local and one national, and that I should be a true member of those organizations by getting involved and taking advantage of what the organization has to offer. Along the way, if you are lucky, you might help shape the organization.

Today, I still give the same advice to lawyers looking to get more professionally involved, and today I specifically encourage them to get involved in the Federal Bar Association. Simply put, there is no other single organization that provides as much opportunity to get to know and work alongside our federal judges on projects that are important to the bench and bar, and to network with other federal lawyers both in the Northern District of Ohio and nationally.

If you are a civil litigator like me, you should get involved in our CLE Committee (chair, Virginia Davidson) and work alongside other top federal practitioners and judges to help create our targeted and very high quality CLE programs. You should also contact our Newsletter Committee chair, Stephen Jett, and submit a substantive article for publication in this newsletter, which has a distribution of almost 10,000 lawyers—every lawyer admitted to practice in the Northern District of Ohio.

If you are a bankruptcy practitioner, you should contact our Bankruptcy Committee chair, Rocco Debitetto, who this summer will be holding the inaugural Bankruptcy Committee event at the Stokes Courthouse. The program will feature practitioners, judges, and the historian who is authoring the history of the Bankruptcy Courts of the Northern District of Ohio. This committee works hand-in-hand with our federal Bankruptcy Court judges, and creates an excellent opportunity for our members to become leaders in the Bankruptcy Bar.

If you practice criminal law, you should contact Tony Vegh, the chair of our Criminal Law Committee. Tony has put together an inaugural criminal law program on sentencing, which will take place this summer, and which again will feature a panel of our federal judges who will discuss those sentencing issues that arise most frequently, and who will provide their own perspectives on this area so critical to the practice of criminal law in the federal courts.

If you are a current or former federal law clerk, you should contact Jennifer Armstrong, the new chair of our Law Clerk Committee. Among other things, the committee is looking to create an organization that will serve the interests of the federal law clerk alumni. It will provide an opportunity for former clerks to continue their connection to the federal court and bench they served, and at the same time network with other current and former federal law clerks. Look for the first event of the Law Clerk Committee late this summer.

I have only scratched the surface of what is available through our FBA chapter, and I want to emphasize that opportunities abound within our chapter and its other committees, such as our Diversity Committee (Josephine Noble), our Public Service Committee (Jennifer Lesny Fleming), and our Younger Lawyers Committee (co-chairs Meggan Rawlin and Mike Mumford), all of which are working with the Court as well as leaders of other bar associations to put together significant events in the coming months. Lawyers in Toledo, Akron and Youngstown can contact our board members from those areas to find out how to get more involved. There really is something for everyone, and a true opportunity to become more involved with your federal bench and other lawyers like you who practice before them.

So how are you taking advantage of your membership in the Federal Bar Association? I look forward to seeing you soon at one of the many events scheduled for the summer of 2011.

Kip T. Bollin is a partner in the litigation area of Thompson Hine’s Cleveland office. He focuses primarily on the defense of complex product liability and business claims, including putative class actions.  Kip is the President of the Federal Bar Association, Northern District of Ohio Chapter. Prior to joining Thompson Hine, Kip was a law clerk to the Honorable Sam H. Bell of the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, 1995-1997.

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District Court Clerk's Corner

Geri Smith

Certified Interpreters Wanted
I would like to bring to your attention the Court’s desire to expand our directory of certified interpreters. The Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination Program (FCICE) works in conjunction with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to determine standards for certification and to establish a list of candidates qualified to interpret for the Court. The link to the FCICE is provided below. Also provided is the link to the US Courts website detailing further information on interpreters. Please feel free to share this information with any and all interested parties.
Directing Email Notifications to Secondary E-mail Addresses
The Court’s case management/electronic case filing (CM/ECF) system automatically sends a notice of electronic filing (NEF) to all counsel of record in a case each time a filing is made. Attorneys may also configure their CM/ECF accounts to:

  • Receive notices of filings in cases which they are not participants;
  • Have notices sent to multiple e-mail addresses; and
  • Have notices sent to associates, staff, and/or clients.

Attorneys may update their accounts to make changes in their email notification set up at any time.

Primary email address: By default, CM/ECF automatically sends email notifications of filings to the primary email address of all attorneys associated with a case. In addition, attorneys can elect to receive notifications in cases that they are not involved in, but have an interest in following, by adding additional case numbers to their e-mail notification list. Attorneys may not opt out from receiving notifications in cases in which they are involved, but they may add or delete other cases from their notification list at any time.

Secondary e-mail addresses: The system provides attorneys with the ability to add and configure secondary e-mail addresses. Attorneys may add secondary e-mail addresses to have notifications sent to themselves at multiple email addresses as well as to others, including associates, staff and clients. Each secondary email address can be configured separately to receive notices in all an attorney’s cases, or on a case-by-case basis. This flexibility may be particularly useful to attorneys who have multiple practices (i.e. attorneys with both governmental and private practices or attorneys who wish to separate their pro bono work from their other activity). This feature may also be helpful to those attorneys who receive assistance from different support staff based on the nature of each case. Like the primary email address, secondary email addresses are initially configured to receive email notifications in all cases by default. However, an attorney can change the default settings for a secondary email address when it is entered into the system or at any time thereafter so that the address only receives notices in those cases selected by the attorney.

Attorneys can add and delete secondary email addresses and add or delete the cases for which those addresses will receive notification using the “Maintain Your Account” link on the “Utility” page in CM/ECF following the procedures for “Directing Email Notifications to Secondary Addresses” provided on the Electronic Filing page of the Court’s website at:


Judiciary Completes Pacer Service Study
A national year-long study assessing user satisfaction with PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) services, in which several Northern District of Ohio attorneys participated, was completed late last year. An additional purpose of the study was to identify opportunities for new and expanded PACER services. The study was conducted by an independent consulting firm, Pacific Consulting Group, and included both surveys and numerous in-person focus groups conducted with attorneys across the country.

The study found that about 80 percent of PACER users are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the service. One attorney said, “PACER could be improved but I do find it to be a good and reliable system as is.” The PACER Service Center help desk support was also rated highly with over 95 percent of respondents who contacted the center during the study period indicating that they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the assistance that was provided. However, the larger survey of PACER users showed that about one third of respondents were not aware that the PACER Service Center is available to provide help.

Among the improvements PACER has implemented as a result of the study are:

  • A new search tool, the Case Locator, which replaces the U.S. Party/Case Index with added search capabilities and a fresh user interface;
  • A change in the PACER fee schedule so that users are not billed unless they accrue charges of more than $10 of PACER usage in a quarterly billing cycle, in effect quadrupling the amount of data that was previously available without charge when users were billed as soon as their accounts totaled $10 in a one-year period; and
  • A redesigned PACER website ( to make information about PACER more easily accessible.

The PACER Service Center has more improvements in planning and underway, including: a communications campaign to inform users about current and new features and services; a redesign of the PACER invoice; and a new training initiative, in partnership with the Government Printing Office and the American Association of Law Libraries. In addition, work has begun on defining requirements for the Next Generation of CM/ECF, the application underlying PACER services.

The contributions of all Northern Ohio attorneys who responded to the survey and/or participated in the focus group meetings are deeply appreciated and have already resulted in improvements to the PACER system.

Geri M. Smith was appointed the Clerk of Court for the U.S. District Court Northern District of Ohio on July 1, 1991, having joined the court in 1982. She serves as the chief administrative officer of the court as well as the administrative assistant to the Chief Judge. Smith is a member of the FBA-NDOC Board of Directors.

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The Judge's Gavel

Judge Oliver

By Solomon Oliver Jr., Chief Judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio

As many of you know, Judge Benita Pearson was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in as a U.S. District Judge in late December of last year. She is the 53rd judge, the seventh woman and the third African American to serve on our court. She is the first African-American woman to serve as a U.S. District Judge in the state of Ohio. As we were welcoming Judge Pearson to our court, we were also celebrating the contributions of our departing colleague, Judge Kate O’Malley, who was confirmed during the same time frame to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Judge Pearson is now up and fully running at the Courthouse in Youngstown. Her investiture in Youngstown on March 25 at the Butler Art Museum was full of celebration of the past and hope for the future. Among the guest speakers were former Congressman Louis Stokes, retired U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Nathaniel Jones and Congresswoman Marsha Fudge. Senator Sherrod Brown also made remarks and swore her in. The Court began the process in February for replacing Judge Pearson as a magistrate judge in Akron by appointing a screening committee to interview candidates and recommend five finalists to the Court. It is anticipated that the screening committee will complete its work by early May. The Court will then interview the finalists and choose the new magistrate judge, subject to the passing of a required FBI check. We are also still eagerly awaiting word regarding the formal nomination and Senate hearing of Jeff Helmick, who was recommended by Senator Brown and Senator Voinovich several months ago, to fill the seat in Toledo vacated by Judge Carr when he took Senior Status on June 1, 2010.
On a less optimistic note, the so-called temporary judgeship, which our court has had since 1990, was allowed by Congress to expire at the end of last year. Since, under the terms of the most recent statute extending the judgeship, the first vacancy occurring after Nov. 15, 2010, could not be filled, we were hopeful that Judge O’Malley would be confirmed before November 15, thus creating a vacancy before the operative date that could be filled. We were also hopeful that Congress would pass legislation extending the expiration date of the judgeship for a number of years even if Judge O’Malley was not confirmed by Nov. 15. As you know, Judge O’Malley was not confirmed by that date, despite a strong effort by our senators to have her confirmed before that date. We fought hard to get the extension and had great support from our senators and from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. An extension was included in the proposed budget bills and in the proposed continuing resolutions right up until the end. At the end, all judgeship extensions were eliminated from the continuing resolution that was passed in December 2010. Around that time, I received word from the Administrative Office that the Judicial Resources Committee of the Judicial Conference had determined, contrary to its initial position, that it would not recommend to the Judicial Conference that our temporary judgeship be extended as part of its biennial survey regarding judicial needs.
We asked for reconsideration, highlighting the fact that we felt our caseload, when looked at over time, did justify our having the judgeship, especially when considering our multi-district litigation (MDL) caseload. Reconsideration was given, but the committee reaffirmed its decision. The Judicial Conference adopted the Committee’s recommendation in March. Without the support of the Administrative Office and the Judicial Conference going forward, there is virtually no chance of getting Congress to revive the judgeship, especially in this intense climate regarding the budget.
Despite this, our judges continue to offer leadership and assistance in our national court system. In addition to handling various MDLs, our judges continue to sit by designation on the 6th Circuit, and have also sat on the 9th Circuit and various District Courts in need, including in the District of Arizona, whose Chief, John Roll, was gunned down in February of this year. It is obvious that we will have to cut back on some of these activities in the future because of the loss of the judgeship. However, because of the willingness of our senior judges to maintain substantial caseloads, we will certainly be able to maintain some of these activities.
It was a pleasure for me, along with other judges from our Court and the state courts in the Cleveland area, to participate in the 2011 Annual Greater Cleveland Bench-Bar Memorial Program on April 4 at the Howard Metzenbaum Courthouse. Three of our former colleagues on this Court, Judge Sam Bell, Judge Alvin “Buddy” Krenzler and Judge Ann Aldrich were among those who were remembered. Judge Bell’s widow, Jennie Bell and his son, Steve Bell joined the Court in planning a special session of our Court that was held on May 12 in Akron, after which there will be a reception sponsored by the Akron Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association and the University of Akron.
Both Geri Smith, our Clerk of Court, and Greg Johnson, Chief Pretrial Services and Probation Officer, continue to be leaders in their field. Greg is currently Vice President of the National Association for Pretrial Services Agencies. It is largely through his efforts that the Probation and Pretrial Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs Conference for the 6th and 7th Circuits will be held in Cleveland on Sept. 21-23. Geri Smith serves on the Financial Managers Working Group of the Administrative Office of Courts, as well as on the Budget and Finance Advisory Council, an advisory group of the Administrative Office.
As you may know, we have so-called “re-entry courts” in Toledo and Cleveland. Those programs are designed to deal with some of our more high-risk offenders when they return from prison and are on supervision by utilizing a team approach involving the Court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Public Defender’s Office, and the Pretrial Services and Probation Office. The Pretrial Services and Probation Office has met with Judge Pearson, preparatory to establishing a reentry court in Youngstown. After a new magistrate judge is in place in Akron, we anticipate that we will start a re-entry court there.
Our Court has considered two special opportunities in recent months: whether to volunteer to become a Pilot Patent Court and whether to volunteer to be one of the participating districts in the Cameras Pilot Project in Civil Cases. The Pilot Patent Court would require that three judges on a participating court receive a substantial portion of the patent caseload. The Court was aware that some members of the bar had hoped that the Court would be a Pilot Patent Court, and the Court extensively considered whether it should do so. Ultimately, the Court determined, for a number of reasons, that it did not want to participate. The Cameras Pilot Project in Civil Cases is designed to study the use of digital video recordings of district courtroom proceedings in civil cases and making those recordings available to the public. The Court did vote to allow the few members of our Court who want to participate as part of that pilot program to participate. We have not been notified yet regarding whether we will be one of the courts chosen.
In general, things are going very well.

Judge Oliver received his B.A. degree from the College of Wooster and his J.D. from New York University.  He was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in May of 1994.  Previously, he served as Associate Dean and Professor of Law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

He also served as Chief of the Civil Division and Chief of Appellate Litigation in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland.  Judge Oliver clerked for the late William H. Hastie of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  He served as Secretary to the Council of the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, and Co-chair of the Litigation Section’s Minority Trial Lawyer Committee.  He is a member of the American Law Institute, the Board of Trustees of the College of Wooster, and the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Oliver received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Wooster and from NYU’s Black, Latino, Asian Pacific American Law Alumni Association.  His most recent publication is a chapter on summary judgment in a six-volume treatise entitled, Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts.

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Law School Corner

University of Akron School of Law
The University of Akron School of Law thanks the Federal Bar Association, Northern District of Ohio Chapter, for its continuing support of academic excellence through the awards given to students with the best performance in Constitutional Law I. For Fall 2010, these awards went to Megan Arenson, Jordan Fodor and Timothy Yahner.

During academic year 2010-2011, Akron has had its first two student representatives to the FBA, Julie Trout and Ellen Lander. Trout will graduate near the top of her class in May 2011, after having served as a Law Review assistant editor and having been on the dean’s list every semester. She came to Akron with a B.S., magna cum laude, from Grove City College after four years of increasing responsibilities at PPG Industries. She has held summer clerkships at Kastner, Westman, and Wilkins, LLC, and Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease, LLC , in Akron. She has accepted a position at Kastner, Westman, and Wilkins upon graduation.

Ellen Lander finished her first year of law school at the top of her class. She came to the law school with a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Akron. She is an articles editor of the Akron Law Review, participated on an external moot court team, and serves as secretary of the Law Association for Women. She has also held an externship with the Hon. Deborah Cook of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, provided tutoring for the Academic Success Program and served as a research assistant to Professors Reilly and Lee. She will have a summer clerkship at Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease, LLC, this year.

Julie and Ellen have been planning efforts to recruit student members to the FBA, which we hope will come to fruition later this year or during academic year 2011-2012.

Case Western Reserve

(L to R) FBA Vice President for the Sixth Circuit James Satola,
James R. Warren III, Melissa A. Yasinow, and Professor
Jonathan Entin.

Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Case Western Reserve University School of Law has two energetic student representatives on the chapter board. Melissa Yasinow and Britney Bennett are both native Clevelanders who have recruited dozens of new student FBA members this year.

Melissa recently graduated magna cum laude and was articles editor of the law review during her final year. Her Note on the legality and implementation of the Ohio marriage amendment will be published in this year’s volume. After graduating from Mount Holyoke College, she received a Fulbright grant to teach English in rural South Korea and intern at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. An extensive traveler, Melissa has backpacked throughout Europe, Southeast Asia and South America. She is working at Kohrman, Jackson & Krantz. Melissa was also a recipient of the FBA Award at CWRU for receiving one of the highest grades in Constitutional Law.

Britney is in the J.D.-M.B.A. program and a member of the Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law. A graduate of Spelman College, she is clerking at Giffen & Kaminski and has externed for Magistrate Judge Kenneth S. McHargh. Her principal professional interests are in corporate and criminal law. She has also been active in the street law program and has studied in Costa Rica.

The FBA co-sponsored a program on judicial clerkships at Case Western Reserve Law School on March 29. Judge Karen Nelson Moore of the Sixth Circuit, Chief Judge Solomon Oliver Jr., and Magistrate Judge Kenneth S. McHargh of the Northern District of Ohio discussed the role of judicial clerks in their chambers and on their courts. They also fielded a wide range of questions from students.


(L-R) Hon. Jack Zouhary, Federal District Judge, United
States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Said
Orra, The Law Office of Said Orra, Margaret Lockhart,
Cooper & Walinski, Magistrate James Knepp, US. District
Court, Jason Hill, Court Administrator, Beth Wilson, HCR
Manor Care GC.

University of Toledo College of Law
On Feb. 3, 2011, the Federal Bar Association, Northern District of Ohio and University of Toledo College of Law hosted a panel for Toledo law students addressing the legal environment. The goal of the program was to provide law students with practitioner insight and a realistic view of industry shifts as the students begin to seek employment opportunities and experience. Hon. Jack Zouhary moderated the panel comprised of five local practitioners representing a number of legal sectors. Panelists commented on how their work environments have changed and stated it is more important than ever to distinguish yourself. Panelists also agreed that hard work pays off and room exists in the marketplace for good attorneys. Judge Zouhary commented on the importance of impeccable writing and attention to detail in cover letters, resumes and writing samples and also reinforced that every position helps you gain skills and necessary knowledge for the next opportunity. Approximately 50 students attended the session and a number of those signed up to be FBA student members.

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Members in the News

Catherine Garcia-Feehan
Catherine Garcia-Feehan

Carter E. Strang
Carter E. Strang

Sanford Watson
Sanford Watson


On May 25, 2011, the Toledo Women's Bar Association awarded FBA-NDOC board member, Catherine Garcia-Feehan, the Arabella Babb Mansfield Award at its annual meeting. This award is bestowed on an individual lawyer who has made a significant contribution to the legal profession, assisted other women lawyers in achieving success, or improved the status of women through hard work, devotion and example. It is named after Arabella Babb Mansfield, who passed the Iowa bar exam in 1869 and went on to become the first woman licensed to practice law in the United States. The award was presented by FBA members, Judges David A. Katz, and James G. Carr (the 2011 Arabella Babb Mansfield Award recipient).  Catherine is a career law clerk to Judge Katz and previously clerked for the late Hon. Nicholas J. Walinski and the Hon. David D. Dowd.

Carter E. Strang, immediate past president of the FBA-NDOC, was selected as the recipient of the 2011 Kent State University Distinguished Honors College Alumni Award. He received the award at the Annual Honors College Luncheon in April. Strang received his B.S. from KSU in 1973 and was a member of the Honors College as well as the football and ice hockey teams. He received his M. Ed. from KSU in 1979.

FBA-NDOC board member Sanford Watson was appointed by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor to the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline. Watson, of the Tucker Ellis & West law firm, was appointed on March 28 to fill a vacancy on the board created by the resignation of attorney Irene Keyse-Walker. Watson received his under graduate degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta and his law degree from the Georgetown University in 1988. The board is composed of 28 members, appointed by the Supreme Court. Four are public members, seven are active or retired judges and 17 are lawyers throughout the state. The Board issues findings and recommendations to the Court on serious ethical misconduct complaints lodged against Ohio attorneys and judges.

Submit your news story for “Members in the News” by email to

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Profile of Chief Judge Solomon Oliver Jr.

Chief Judge Solomon Oliver Jr.
Chief Judge
Solomon Oliver Jr.

By Dick Russ, WKYC-TV

“Things were very segregated,” Judge Solomon Oliver Jr.says of his youth in Bessemer, Ala., about eight miles southwest of Birmingham.

“In most places, there was a side for blacks, or coloreds as they said at that time, and there was a side for whites. On the buses of course, blacks were to sit in the back of the bus if they rode the bus. Most of us tried to avoid riding the bus so you didn’t have to suffer that kind of indignity.”

Oliver, now 63, says the disparities extended to schools and other aspects of daily life in the Deep South in the 1950s. 

“For example, the school I attended didn’t have any heating other than by coal stove,” he recalls. “So we were required, at some point during the day, to go out and get the coal from the bin, bring it in, and put it in the stove.”

“That’s the kind of environment I grew up in,” says the now Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for Northern Ohio. “There were very few black professionals, teachers, and ministers, but most of the jobs we considered to be professional jobs, blacks really couldn’t compete for those jobs. So there were restrictions everywhere in that regard.”

“That’s the South in the 50s,” Judge Oliver continued, “and of course things started to change in the 60s. But there was a lot of turmoil as you know going on. I was in 11th grade when the girls were bombed in the 16th Street Baptist Church.”

That church in Birmingham was bombed on Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963, and was a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement.

Four girls were killed and 22 other people injured in the bombing. Two members of the Ku Klux Klan were convicted of murder years later.

“That impacted my life, my spirit, the spirit of other African Americans,” Judge Oliver reflected. “During that period of time, we started to think that perhaps even in our lifetime we would have opportunities that had been closed.”

While his early life was marked by events which would themselves become part of history, Solomon Oliver, Jr., always found solid guidance and values in his family.

“Despite the negative things I have talked about, it was still a fun place to live in our community,” he told WKYC. “We had a lot of support from family and friends. Our teachers taught us that we could achieve, and in my own personal case, my parents taught all of us, all ten of us, and there were ten, that one day we would have opportunities that were denied to us because of our skin color.”

“They were confident of that despite the fact that they did not have those opportunities, and I always felt that if given a chance I could compete. And I think there were a lot of other African Americans who thought the same way.”

Oliver says his interest in law began as a child through his Uncle Walter, who always thought about someday going to law school.

“But he went to the war instead,” Oliver says, “and when he came back, he took correspondence courses and had a lot of law books in his house.”

The atmosphere added to young Solomon’s dreams.

“When I was growing up, I just had the sense that I wanted to do something that I thought was important. And I couldn’t define what important was. It could have been a lawyer. It could have been a PhD, a professor.”
His move to Northeast Ohio took place in 1966 when a teacher at Miles College in Alabama, where Oliver had begun undergraduate work, told him of an exchange program with the College of Wooster.

After earning a degree at Wooster in 1969, he went on to pursue a master’s and a law degree.

Oliver worked in private practice, as a teacher, and as an assistant U.S. Attorney before being sworn in as a federal judge in 1994. He became Chief Judge in 2010.

The judge is aware that, by circumstance or design, his life has intersected with people, places, and events which are now part of American history.

“I would like young people to understand that there are many of us out there rooting for them, fighting for them, trying to make sure that they have equal opportunities so they can get some of these wonderful, quality experiences,” Judge Oliver told WKYC. 

“I know there are a lot of us, not just African Americans, who are devoted to seeing that young people today get cream-of-the-crop opportunities, to work in public service, to work as law clerks for federal judges,” Oliver continued.

“I know it’s not where we want it to be, certainly not at this time, but I would encourage them to forge on like Hastie did and like I did when I came along, and certainly we’ll be pulling for them and we'll try to make the playing field even.”

Solomon Oliver once again reflects back on his strong family as the foundation for his career, success, and outlook. 

“I have tried to be, to live out in my life, principles of equality and respect and fairness, and these are all principles that I learned from my parents.”

He concludes with encouragement and optimism for young African Americans

“Everything is possible,” he says. “There may be obstacles, but just try to look to find examples of people who have overcome the odds, and who have achieved, and they can certainly do the same.”

This article was reprinted with permission of WKYC-TV. To view a video interview with Chief Judge Oliver, please click this link

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Bankruptcy Law Committee Update

Rocco Debitteto

The new Bankruptcy Committee is excited to announce its inaugural event: Bankruptcy: Origins, Ethics, and History of Our Own Backyard, beginning at 9 a.m. on July 14, 2011, at the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse. The seminar will start with a discussion of current ethics topics, follow with a discussion of the historical origins of modern bankruptcy practice, and conclude with a discussion of the history of the Bankruptcy Court (including things you never knew, and never thought to ask). An optional lunch follows, during which panelist Dr. M. Susan Murnane will discuss her near-finished book detailing the intriguing history of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Ohio. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to pick up three hours of unique CLE credits. To register visit, e-mail or call (877) 322-6364.

The FBA Bankruptcy Committee has also partnered with the Bankruptcy and Commercial Law Section of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association to honor retiring Judge Randolph Baxter. A reception in his honor will be held on Aug. 11 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse Atrium. Please join the bankruptcy bar for what will certainly be a wonderful evening celebrating Judge Baxter’s many contributions to the court, the community, and the Federal Bar Association.
Stay tuned for more events from the Bankruptcy Committee. If you are interested in joining the committee, please contact Rocco I. Debitetto at (216) 274-2374 or

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Criminal Law Committee Update

Tony Vegh
Tony Vegh

Recently, the FBA Board created a Criminal Law Committee to serve our members who practice in that area. Kip Bollin asked me to chair the committee and he asked John Mitchell, of Thompson Hine, to co-chair. The committee will partner with the Federal Public Defenders’ Office and provide you with (we hope) exciting and thoughtful programs and CLE. If you are interested in serving on the committee, please contact me.

Our first program is scheduled for July 19, 2011. The program “Sentencing: A View from the Bench” will be an informal discussion of sentencing issues led by Judges Christopher Boyko, Dan Polster, and Benita Pearson. This is a unique opportunity to hear from our District Court Judges on this important aspect of our practice.

Good News (At Last): Federal Guideline Sentencing Zones Expanded

On Nov. 1 2010, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines were amended. One of the amendments (the first of its kind in 18 years) expanded Zones B and C of the Guidelines so that more defendants receive sentences that include probation and electronic home confinement instead of incarceration. The amendment is a result of the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s continued multi-year study of alternatives to incarceration. The commission initiated this study in recognition of increased interest in alternatives to incarceration by all three branches of government and renewed public debate about the size of the federal prison population and the need for greater availability of alternatives to incarceration for certain nonviolent first offenders. Here’s how the amendment works.

The amendment expands zones B and C by one offense level each. Therefore, alternative sentences (including probation and electronic home confinement) are available to defendants with an offense level 11 and Criminal History Category I resulting in a Guideline range of 8 to 14 months.

The amendment also provides defendants with sentences of 12-18 months at level 13 eligibility for split-sentences instead of incarceration.

As many of you that practice criminal defense in the federal courts know, these changes in the Guidelines are extremely beneficial to all defendants. The expansion of Zones B and C can literally mean the difference between prison or going home for our clients.

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The FBA Northern District of Ohio Chapter Establishes Its First Diversity Committee

Josephine Noble
Josephine Noble

This year, the FBA Northern District of Ohio Chapter formed its first Diversity Committee, chaired by Josephine S. Noble, Esq., from the law firm of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. The committee’s goal is to promote diversity amongst the Chapter’s membership and to create programming that addresses the concerns of our diverse body of lawyers and judges in partnership with our fellow diverse bar associations.

The committee is planning for its inaugural event in the third quarter of the year. The event will be a continuing legal education seminar focused on how and when gender, race, and/or ethnicity affect the quality or nature of the attorney's/judge’s individual experience in our federal courts. The CLE will highlight the experiences of several prominent diverse lawyers in the local community, and will provide practical guidance on how to confront and overcome these issues in a professional manner.

The topic is inspired by previous studies by task forces of sister circuits that found systematic and persistent differences in the perceptions of male and female, and white and minority attorneys concerning the existence of bias in the federal courts, and the resulting impact on the fairness of court proceedings. This CLE will help to raise awareness of these issues and promote practical dialogue about how to deal with them.

The Diversity Committee is comprised of Kip Bollin, Jennifer Lesny-Fleming, Edward Icove, Barbara Lum, Josephine Noble (Chair), Ellen Toth, Vicki Ward and Sanford Watson. In coming months, the committee will be working on developing additional sustainable programming in partnership with the Chapter’s other existing committees and our fellow diverse bar associations to help promote diversity amongst our Federal Bar.

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FBA Mid-Year Meeting In Alexandria, And A Few Notes On The Proposed FBA Constitution Amendments

James Satola

By James Satola

The FBA convened its annual Mid-Year Meeting, this past March 18 and 19, in Alexandria, Virginia’s “Old Town” (officially, the city’s “Old & Historic District”), a city the young George Washington helped lay out as a surveyor, and in which he made his home. The FBA’s Mid-Year Meeting, usually held during the last weekend of March—it was a bit earlier this year—presents an opportunity for the FBA’s national officers, circuit vice presidents, chapter delegates, and other chapter leaders to discuss and exchange ideas about effective Chapter events and activities, to discuss current FBA business and initiatives, and to have a good time while doing them. The Midyear Meeting also represents one of the two times per year when the FBA National Council Meetings are held. It is also the event at which the FBA’s annual Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition is held.

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The George Washington Masonic National
Memorial Landing

The first day of the Midyear hosted meetings of the FBA National Board of Directors and the Federal Bar Building Corporation, as well as the general sign-in and registration. Later that evening, the final round of the FBA Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition was held, followed by a reception, both of which were held at the historic U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces courthouse on Judiciary Square in Washington, D.C. Earlier rounds of the tournament were held at the D.C. Superior Court, on the Thursday night preceding the conference, and at the U.S. Court of Claims, on Friday morning and afternoon. This year, for the first time ever, both teams arguing in the final round were from the same school, University of California Hastings College of Law. One of these teams also won the best brief award, making it a “sweep” for the school. Over the previous two days, 26 teams competed in the event. The USCAAF courthouse in which the final round was held was formerly the home of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, from 1910 to 1951. Students from law schools around the country participate in the tournament, representing the culmination of a lot of hard work on the part of each of the schools' participants. As one who served as a judge at both the Thursday evening rounds and the Friday afternoon final rounds, I can attest that the quality of the argument presentations were exceptional.

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The George Washington Memorial Building

The second day of the conference included morning meetings of the circuit vice presidents, the section and division leadership, and the Foundation of the FBA Board of Directors. Immediately following, later in the morning, was the Chapter Leaders Update Meeting, which is the primary forum for Chapter representatives to exchange ideas on programs and events and to then report them to the general gathering. The morning’s events concluded with a luncheon featuring William K. Suter, who just celebrated his twentieth year as Clerk of Court for the Supreme Court of the United States.

The formal portion of the Midyear Meeting concluded on Saturday afternoon with the FBA National Council Meeting, attended by representatives from many of the individual FBA Chapters from around the country. Current FBA-NDOC Chapter President Kip Bollin and incoming Chapter President Diana Thimmig attended the meeting as chapter delegates, joined by Jim Satola, who serves as a member of National Council by virtue of holding the office of Circuit Vice President for the Sixth Circuit, and Aaron Bulloff, who attended as a National President “Appointee” Delegate and member of the FBA’s Government Relations Committee.

As with the previous National Council Meeting, held in New Orleans at the 2010 FBA Annual Meeting this past September, the primary topic at the recent National Council Meeting was the proposed amendments to the FBA Constitution, involving additions to the mission statement, inclusion of tribal court membership among the methods whereby one can qualify for active FBA membership (which could include non-attorneys), the maintaining of membership in more than one Chapter, qualification for judicial honorary membership, the establishment of a requirement for prior FBA Board of Directors service prior to qualification to run for national office, movement of the authority to establish FBA Divisions from the FBA Constitution to the FBA Bylaws (similar to the method for the establishment of sections), amendments to the FBA dues structure, and a change to include electronic notification as among the methods to serve notice of matters to be addressed by National Council. The proposed changes were approved by the National Council (admittedly over points of considerable dissent as to some of the proposed changes, most particularly over the issue of prerequisite FBA Board of Directors membership before becoming eligible to run for national office). The proposed changes will now be submitted to the full FBA membership for a vote on approval, per the requirements of the FBA Constitution. The materials for the proposed changes to the Constitution will be mailed out to the membership along with the annual election ballots, which will be sent out on June 15.

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King Street Blues Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia

The National Council Meeting ended with a preview of the upcoming Annual Meeting, to be held in Chicago from Sept. 7-10. On the tentative schedule are a Seventh Circuit Bar Admission Swearing-in Ceremony, a Thursday night social event at the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Chicago River architectural tour, and a Friday night social event at the Shedd Aquarium.

Finally, as is a tradition of the Mid-Year Meeting over the past number of years, the Fellows of the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association gathered for a Saturday night dinner, held at the University Club of Washington, D.C., a Washington landmark institution, founded by William Howard Taft in 1904.

James W. Satola is a Past President of the FBA Northern District of Ohio Chapter, and currently serves as FBA National Vice President for the Sixth Circuit.

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Collins & Scanlon and FBA-NDOC Co-Sponsor St. Patrick's Antitrust Seminar

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The Hon. Mr. Justice Nial Fennelly, Supreme Court of Ireland

The law firm of Collins & Scanlon LLP and the Northern District of Ohio Chapter of the Federal Bar Association co-sponsored an antitrust litigation seminar on March 16, 2011. The seminar was the second annual St. Patrick’s CLE event held in the 7th Floor auditorium of the Stokes Courthouse.

Each presenter addressed an aspect of litigating an antitrust case in the U.S. or the European Union. The featured speaker was a special guest of the firm of Collins & Scanlon, The Hon. Mr. Justice Nial Fennelly. Justice Fennelly was appointed a member of the Supreme Court of Ireland in 2000. He was in the United States to participate in Cleveland’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and to be the honored guest at the annual Collins & Scanlon St. Patrick’s Day events.

Several other excellent presenters addressed a crowd of local general counsel and distinguished members of the bench and bar. The Hon. Dan A. Polster discussed the management of antitrust litigation, particularly as part of complex class action or MDL litigation in this district. Charles Tompkins of the Boston firm of Shapiro, Haber & Urmy discussed antitrust litigation from a plaintiff’s perspective. Phil Calabrese of Squire Sanders & Dempsey presented a case example of a litigation matter he handled in the Sixth Circuit. Kevin Culum with the U.S. Department of Justice discussed the prosecution of criminal antitrust violations. Professor Michael Borden of Cleveland-Marshall moderated a panel on civil antitrust litigation.

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FBA Northern District Of Ohio Chapter Joins In Memorial Tribute

The 2011 Greater Cleveland Bench-Bar Memorial Program, an annual lunchtime event honoring the attorneys and judges of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County who passed away over the preceding calendar year (plus some from January 2011), took place on Monday, April 4, 2011, in the atrium of the Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse. As it has since the program’s inception, the FBA’s Northern District of Ohio Chapter was one of the event’s sponsors, along with the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Ohio Women’s Bar Association, the Norman S. Minor Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, and the Asian American Bar Association of Ohio.

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FBA-NDOC immediate past president Carter Strang.

The Memorial Program is always a well-attended event, offering members of our legal community an opportunity to take part in a moving tribute to those we have recently lost. The Program began with an introduction by Northern District of Ohio Clerk of Court Geri Smith of the judges participating in the tribute, comprised of judges from the Northern Ohio U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts, along with Judges representing the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals, Common Pleas Court, Probate Court, Domestic Relations Court and Juvenile Court, as well as judges representing the Cleveland and surrounding communities’ Municipal Courts. The tribute began with a welcome and introduction by Chief Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. of the Northern District of Ohio U.S. District Court, followed by remarks from Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association President Michael Ungar, Supreme Court of Ohio Justice Terrence O’Donnell, Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals Judge Colleen Conway Cooney (whose father, James P. Conway, was one of the persons memorialized at this year’s event), Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge Nancy Fuerst, and Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine. The names of the honorees were then recognized, in turn, by FBA Northern District of Ohio Chapter President Kip Bollin, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association President-Elect Barbara Roman, Norman S. Minor Bar Association President Ronald Johnson, and CMBA Vice President (and last year’s FBA-NDOC Chapter President) Carter Strang.

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Clerk of Court, Geri M. Smith, addresses the audience
at the annual Memorial Tribute.

This year’s list of honorees—those who passed away between Jan. 1, 2010, through Jan. 31, 2011—included the names of seven judges: Judges Ann Aldrich, Sam Bell, and Alvin Krenzler, who each served on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio; Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer and former Chief Justice Frank Celebrezze; former Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals Judge August Pryatel; and former Bedford Municipal Court Judge Joseph Zingales. Also included on this year’s list was someone whose contributions to the FBA nationally and our Northern District of Ohio Chapter cannot be measured, Stanley Fisher, who served as National President of the FBA from 1986 to 1987, President of the Northern District of Ohio Chapter from 1971 to 1972, and who remained a steadfast supporter of our Chapter throughout his lifetime, earning him the Chapter’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.

The event was capped by reflections provided by Rabbi Richard Block of The Temple-Tifereth Israel, and closing remarks from Chief Judge Oliver. A reception, held in the lobby of the Metzenbaum courthouse, followed the program.

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Stanley Morton Fisher (1928-2011)

Stan Fisher
Stanley M. Fisher

Our good friend and colleague, Stan Fisher, passed away on Jan. 28, 2011. Stan served as our Chapter president and became the first national president of the Federal Bar Association from Ohio. He was the first recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the FBA-ND of Ohio Chapter and served as a Life Member of the prestigious Judicial Conference of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Stanley Morton Fisher was born on Feb. 15, 1928 and was raised in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Coached by Woody Hayes as a high school freshman, Stan was always proud to have been the starting offensive right tackle of the undefeated 1944 New Philadelphia High School Quaker football team.

Stan earned his undergraduate degree from Oberlin College and his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. Following law school, he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he clerked first for Chief Judge Simons and then Judge Potter Stewart, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Throughout his career, Stan worked in several prominent law firms in Cleveland including Arter & Hadden, Ulmer Berne and Guren Merrit. He finished his career as of-counsel with Budish, Solomon, Steiner & Peck.

Stan taught at Cleveland State University Cleveland Marshall College of Law, was a published author, served as a past president of the American Counsel Association, was a life member of the National Uniform Law Commission, and served on several national committees responsible for updating Federal Codes. In 1995, he was appointed to the Federal Service Impasses Panel, which assists in labor negotiations with federal workers.

Stan lived in Beachwood, Ohio, and Naples, Fla., and was a member of both the Ohio and Florida bars. He served as a Big Brother through Bellefaire and served on the Boards of Suburban Temple-Kol Ami and Council Gardens. In his free time, Stan enjoyed bicycling, golf and tennis. He was predeceased by his wife, Elaine “Boots” (nee Rosenthal) and is survived by his second wife, Beverly Ludwig Fisher, his children, Richard (Jill Storey), Lee (Peggy Zone Fisher), Barbara (Michael Scott) and Suzanne (Steve Miller), 4 stepchildren and 13 grandchildren. He will be dearly missed by his family and colleagues.


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The Hon. Sam H. Bell (1925-2010)

By Kip T. Bollin

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Official portrait of Judge Bell which hangs in the
John F. Seiberling FederalBuilding & U.S. Courthouse
in Akron.

On Thursday, May 12, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio held a Special Session of Court to pay tribute to the Hon. Sam H. Bell, who passed away on Dec. 23, 2010. Chief Judge Oliver welcomed dozens of judges and hundreds of members of the bar, as well as Judge Bell’s family and friends to the Ballroom at the University of Akron’s Quaker Square Inn. Judge Bell was then remembered and honored by a number of speakers, including: Judge Bell’s good friend the Hon. Haldane Robert Mayer of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Judge Dan Polster of the Northern District of Ohio, attorney Sue Marie Douglas, former Bell law clerk Dirk A. Beamer, former Dean of the University of Akron School of Law Richard L. Aynes, as well as Judge Bell’s son, attorney Steven D. Bell, and Judge Bell’s widow, Jennie Bell.

The speakers offered fond words of their friend, colleague and mentor. Despite the varying facets of the Judge’s life represented by the different speakers, each sounded a common theme: Judge Bell was a generous, patient and wise man, who took a genuine interest in the lawyers and litigants who appeared before him. He wanted to know their stories and he wanted to do justice by them. He had a way of making everyone who appeared before him feel that theirs was the most important matter he had to consider.

Sam Bell was born Dec. 31, 1925. He grew up in Akron, Ohio, where he attended Buchtel High School before going on to earn his undergraduate degree at the College of Wooster. Judge Bell studied at The American University in Washington, D.C., and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Akron Law School in 1952.

Judge Bell was in private practice and an assistant county prosecutor in Summit County from 1956 until 1968. In 1968, Judge Bell was appointed to the Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Court, a position to which he was re-elected and in which he served until 1973, when he was elected to the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. In 1977, Judge Bell began his service on the Ohio Ninth District Court of Appeals. During that time, he occasionally sat by appointment on the Supreme Court of Ohio. In 1982, Judge Bell was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Aside from a brief time sitting in Cleveland and the occasional assignment to the Sixth Circuit, Judge Bell spent the next 16 years sitting in Akron; he assumed senior status in late 1996 and closed his chambers in 1998.

Judge Bell helped found the Scanlon Inn of Court in Akron, and was a recipient of the Sir Thomas More Award. In his private time Judge Bell enjoyed reading—especially about history (he was a member of both the Ohio Historical Society and the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society). In his retirement he taught a pre-law class at the College of Wooster, along with his wife Jennie who is also an attorney and legal writing instructor. Judge Bell was predeceased by his first wife, the former Joyce Shaw, and is survived by his wife Jennie Bell, sons Steven D. Bell and Henry W. Bell, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

The Special Session of Court was followed by a reception sponsored by the Federal Bar Association (ND Ohio Chapter), The University of Akron School of Law, and the Federal Court Committee of the Akron Bar Association.

The Bench and the Bar of the Northern Ohio mourn the loss of a great judge and a great man, Sam H. Bell.

The author is the President of the Northern District of Ohio Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and a former Law Clerk to the Hon. Sam H. Bell (1995-1997)

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Congratulations to the Garrett Morgan Mock Trial Team

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Garrett Morgan Mock Trial Team members.

The Garrett Morgan Mock Trial Team won second place overall in the 15th Annual Cleveland High School Mock Trial Competition on May 6, 2011. Individual honors were awarded to Aramise Holder for Outstanding Attorney, and Nick Williams and Emilee Sparks for Outstanding Witnesses. Every student on the team did a great job and contributed to the overall success of the team. The team’s teacher is Pam Craig, and FBA volunteer attorney coaches were U.S. Magistrate Judge Greg White, Keven Eiber, Charlie Price and Thomas Baker. 


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Tribute to Judge Kathleen M. O’Malley

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Judge Kathleen O'Malley thanks the audience
during her tribute ceremony.

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FBA-NDOC President Kip T. Bollin (l) and FBA-NDOC
Vice President Virginia Davidson (r) present Judge O'Malley
with a photograph of the Cleveland skyline.

By James Satola
On Feb. 7, the Northern District of Ohio bench and bar gathered to celebrate Judge Kathleen M. (“Kate”) O’Malley’s confirmation as newest judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and to thank her for her 16 years of dedicated service as one of our own Northern District of Ohio finest District Judges. As many of you know, in early 2010, President Barack Obama nominated Judge O’Malley to a judgeship on the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, to fill the seat created by Judge Alvin Schall’s assuming senior status on that court in October 2009. On Dec. 27, 2010, on one of the final days of the last Congress, the Senate confirmed Judge O’Malley’s nomination. Prior to joining the Federal Circuit, Judge O’Malley had served as a district judge in the Northern District of Ohio, having been named to the seat in October 1994 by President William Clinton.
The tribute, held in the ceremonial courtroom of Chief District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr., at the Cleveland federal courthouse, began with the opening of court by Christine Huth of the Clerk of Court’s Office, who has served as Judge O’Malley’s courtroom deputy ever since Judge O’Malley took her seat on the bench. A brief introduction was then given by Kip Bollin, the current president of the FBA Northern District of Ohio Chapter, followed by remarks presented on behalf of the court by Chief Judge Oliver, who thanked Judge O’Malley for her many years of fine service on our district court and wishing her well as she begins her new adventure in our nation’s capitol. Afterward, a number of colleagues and friends offered their personal congratulations and recollections. First was longtime friend Judge Joan Synenberg of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, followed by law clerk Nathan McDonald, law school classmate (and former Assistant U.S. Attorney, now in private practice) James Wooley. The final speaker of this portion of the program was former Ohio Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher, a longtime personal friend, and for whom, prior to her nomination to the federal bench, Judge O’Malley had served as First Assistant Attorney General, Chief of Staff, and Chief Counsel during Fisher’s earlier term as Ohio Attorney General.
The tribute concluded with a presentation to Judge O’Malley of a framed photograph of the Cleveland night skyline, prominently showing the federal courthouse as seen from the river, given on behalf of the FBA Northern District of Ohio Chapter by Chapter President Bollin and Chapter Program Chair Virginia Davidson. Wrapping up the event were remarks given by Judge O’Malley, who recalled the day she was sworn in as a judge, paid tribute to her parents, now gone, whose support she treasured at that earlier ceremony, and offered her thanks to the many friends and colleagues surrounding her in the courtroom for this special event.
Then, as today, we all wish Judge O’Malley the best. 

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The Historical Investiture of Judge Benita Y. Pearson

Ellen Toth

By Ellen Toth
Being appointed the first African-American female federal judge in the state of Ohio is a role that Judge Benita Y. Pearson takes very seriously and for which she has prepared during her successful career. Her colleagues, her family, her mentors, her mentees and her friends all saluted her during her ceremonial investiture on March 25, 2011. The ceremony was held at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio.


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Judge Benita Y. Pearson recites
the oath of office as administered
by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.

Judge Pearson was saluted by a U.S. senator, a present and former member of Congress and a retired Sixth Circuit Judge. And all through the ceremony, Judge Pearson was embraced by her mother, her three sisters, two brothers and hundreds of friends and colleagues. Members of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus provided musical inspiration in their performances of “American the Beautiful” and “Elijah Rock” and were joined by Judge Pearson’s colleagues, family and friends in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Chief Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. presided over the ceremony and was joined by colleagues from the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio. He welcomed Judge Pearson and saluted her intellect and temperament. The admiration and accolades given to Judge Pearson are too numerous to include in this article, but it was clear that her credentials, experience and compassion were acknowledged by all:

  • U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown administered the oath of office to Judge Pearson and recognized Judge Pearson for her poise and temperament and the importance of her being a role model to others who aspire to reach their goals. 
  • Retired Sixth Circuit United States Court of Appeals Judge Nathaniel R. Jones spoke about Judge Pearson’s ability to bring her warmth and humanity to judicial proceedings and how her appointment as a district judge is a reflection of the judiciary becoming more inclusive and a better reflection of the face of America.
  • Former U.S. Representative Louis Stokes recognized Judge Pearson for her virtue of patience (referring to the lengthy appointment and confirmation process) and predicted the positive effect she will have on the judiciary and the community.
  • U.S. Representative Marcia L. Fudge applauded Judge Pearson for her strength, fairness and patience, as well as her efforts to set the bar higher for herself and others.
  • Eighth District Court of Appeals Patricia Ann Blackmon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven M. Dettelbach, Jones Day Partner Robert P. Ducatman and American Bar Association Sixth Circuit Representative W. Anthony Jenkins joined in the program and shared their insight about Judge Pearson, her accomplishments and her historic appointment.
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Left to right: FBA-NDOC President Kip T. Bollin and Judge Pearson. Judge Pearson addresses the audience during her historic investiture.U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown presents Judge Pearson with a gift of the Roll Call Vote during her investiture.

Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams did the Reading of the Commission and Judge Pearson’s mother, Kay Frances Spates, and her sister, Renee Dancie, participated in the Robing Ceremony. Judge Pearson thanked her family, friends, mentors and colleagues for their support and inspiration and the hundreds in attendance were able to observe the poise, temperament and wisdom of Judge Pearson. 

Clerk of Court Geri M. Smith opened the ceremony and introduced the judicial officers, while Deputy in Charge Linda P. Rhein led the Pledge of Allegiance. United States Marshall Peter J. Elliot escorted Judge Pearson to the bench. The Navy Operational Support Center made the Presentation of Color. The Invocation was conducted by Reverend James Lewis, Pastor, Advent Lutheran Church, and the Benediction was done by Reverend Dr. Larry L. Macon, Sr., Senior Pastor at the Mount Zion Church.

The lively vegan reception following the ceremony was sponsored by the Federal Bar Association Northern District of Ohio Chapter, the Norman S. Minor Bar Association, the Columbiana County Bar Association, the Mahoning County Bar Association, the Trumbull County Bar Association and the Akron Bar Association.    

Ellen Toth is Of Counsel at the Cleveland firm of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.  She has practiced employment and labor law since 1991.  Ellen is a past president of the Federal Bar Association, Northern District of Ohio Chapter, a life delegate to the Judicial Conference of the Eighth Judicial District of Ohio, and previously served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Cleveland Food Bank.

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FBA Sections and Divisions Expanding

The national Federal Bar Association will be expanding its section offerings this year with the creation of a new Civil Rights Section and is also planning to form a new Securities Law Section. In addition to these sections, the FBA offers the following sections: alternative dispute resolution; antitrust and trade regulation; bankruptcy law; criminal law; environment, energy and natural resources law; federal litigation; government contracts; health law; immigration law; Indian law; intellectual property law; international law; labor and employment law; Social Security law; state and local government; taxation law; transportation and transportation security; and veterans law. Divisions include: corporate and association counsels; federal career services; senior lawyers; and younger lawyers.

Attorneys interested in any of the FBA sections or divisions should contact Adrienne Woolley at

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Congratulations to the FBA-NDOC's Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Congratulations to the FBA-NDOC Board Members who have been named Super Lawyers or Rising Stars for 2011 by Super Lawyers Magazine. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Super Lawyers 2011
Kip Bollin
Tim Collins
Gina Davidson
Lisa Babish Forbes
Art Kaufman
Tony LaCerva
George McGaughey
Diana Thimmig

Rising Stars 2011
Rebecca Bennett
Rocco Debitetto
Meggan Rawlin


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Write an Article

Members of the Northern District of Ohio Chapter of the Federal Bar Association are invited to submit an article for an upcoming issue. Please note: it is generally required that authors be members of the FBA-NDOC in order for his or her article to be published in Inter Alia. If you are not currently a member but wish to submit an article, please  "Join Here".

If you are interested in writing an article, please contact me at (216) 706-3874 or

JettStephen H. Jett, Partner
Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
2010-2011 Newsletter Editor

The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the FBA. This newsletter is published with the understanding that the FBA-NDOC is not engaged in rendering legal or professional services. © FBA-NDOC. Send any and all corrections, articles or other contributions you may have to:

Stephen H. Jett, Partner
Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
200 Public Square, Suite 3500
Cleveland, Ohio 44114-2302
e-mail at

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Welcome New Chapter Members

New FBA-NDOC Members (August 2010 to December 31, 2010)

Kathleen M. Amerkhanian, Mannion & Gray Co LPA
Andrew M. Bramante, Margaret W. Wong & Associates
Travis W. Colopy
Maureen A. Connolly
Gene Crawford, United States Attorney's Office
Andrew T. Czarzasty, Joseph B. Jerome & Assoc
Jonathan F. Dinan
Robert A. Dixon, Law Office of Robert Dixon
William B. Eadie, Spangenberg Shibley Liber LLP
Lidia B. Ebersole
Thomas L. Erb
Regina M. Fisher, Law Office of Jack Malicki LLC
David C. Fox
Noaie K. Fowle
Alex R. Frondorf, Littler Mendelson
Steven M. Gaulding, Gaulding LLC
Greg B. Gipson
Cory J. Goe
Katherine M. Greene
Derrick Hall, Elser & Hall LLC
James M. Helmink
Christopher W. Jones
Steven S. Kaufman, Kaufman & Company, LLC
Erin A. Kulesus
Nari Lee-Manuel
Arline L. Laurer
Sunjae Lee
John Q. Lewis
Lan Liang
Marissa L. Licata
Martin J. Mackowski, Thompson Hine LLP
Matthew S. Manning
Justin M. McNeil
Dylan T. Mertz
Adam J. Motycka
Patrica S. Murphy, Turocy & Watson, LLP      
John M. Murray
Thomas A. Muzilla, The Muzilla Law Firm, LLC
Sarah E. Pierce
Jeffrey C. Piotrowski
Margaret S. Reynolds
Daniel J. Rudary
Lindsey E. Sacher
Corey S. Scarbrough
Mark F. Schuber
Christopher J. Sleeper
Zachary T. Smitt
Judson D. Stelter, Frantz Ward LLP
Anna Tilis, Janik LLP
Allen C. Tittle, Nouak Robenalt & Paulik LLP
Jennifer M. Turner, Janik LLP
Lisa B. Uffman-Kirsch
Edwin J. Vargas, The Vargas Law Firm Co. LPA
Kristie M. Weibling, Kristie M. Weibling LLC
Melody R. Wilhelm
Georgia E. Yanchar, Calfee Halter & Griswold LLP
Andrew J. Yarger
Minyi Zhn

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Officers, Directors and Representatives


Kip T. Bollin

Diana M. Thimmig

Vice President
Virginia Davidson

Jason A. Hill

Dennis G. Terez

Immediate Past President & Delegate to National Council
Carter E. Strang


Hon. Randolph Baxter
Rebecca J. Bennett
Cynthia Binns
Kenneth A. Bravo
Aaron H. Bulloff
Annette G. Butler
J. Philip Calabrese
Tim L. Collins
Joseph T. Dattilo
Rocco I. Debitetto
Jennifer Dowdell Armstrong
Keven Drummond Eiber
Lisa Forbes
Catherine Garcia-Feehan
Edward A. Icove
Stephen H. Jett
Arthur M. Kaufman
Kenneth Kowalski
Anthony J. LaCerva
Jennifer Lesny Fleming

Charles A. LoPresti
George L. McGaughey, Jr.
Michael E. Mumford
Josephine Noble
Steven Paffilas
Hon. Benita Pearson
Hon. Dan Aaron Polster
Meggan A. Rawlin
James W. Satola
Neil Schor
Harris A. Senturia
Geri M. Smith
Ellen Toth
Anthony J. Vegh
Vicki L. Ward
Sanford Watson
Hon. Greg White
Bruce H. Wilson
Dennis P. Zapka


Public Representative
Barbara Paynter

Chapter Representative
Steven Dettelbach

The University of Akron School of Law Representatives
Associate Dean William Jordan
Britney Bennett
Mirela Turc

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Representatives
Kenneth Kowalski
Mona Ma
George Ofori

University of Toledo College of Law Representatives
Assistant Dean Heather Karns
Mark Abramowitz
Douglas Leavitt


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Upcoming Events

June 30, 2011: Criminal and Civil Intellectual Property Enforcement Actions CLE Seminar—Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse

July 14, 2011: Bankruptcy: Origins, Ethics and History of Our Own Backyard CLE Seminar—Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse

July 19, 2011: Sentencing in Federal Court: Views from the Bench CLE Seminar—Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse

July 19, 2011: Summer Associate Reception—House of Blues Cleveland

Aug. 4, 2011: Members-only Summer Social Event—Capitol Theatre, Gordon Square Arts District, Cleveland

Aug. 11, 2011: Tribute to Judge Randolph Baxter—Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse

Sept. 19, 2011: State of the Court Luncheon—Marriott Cleveland Downtown at Key Center

Sept. 30, 2011: Members-only Networking Breakfast—Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP

Nov. 4, 2011: What You Need to Know About… New Lawyer Training CLE Seminar—Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse

For more information on all of our upcoming events, please click here.


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FBA-NDOC Member Benefits

Join the award-winning Federal Bar Association, Northern District of Ohio Chapter, one of the fastest growing and most dynamic FBA Chapters in the United States!

Click here to download a membership application.

In addition to receipt of an advanced copy of the Chapter’s Inter Alia newsletter and an opportunity to participate in the Chapter’s many community outreach programs, membership in the Chapter includes the following exclusive benefits:

  1. Reduced CLE and event costs as well as a free yearly Ethics, Professionalism and Substance Abuse CLE.
  1. Free “Members Only” events, including the Chapter’s annual summer social event held at Severance Hall in ‘10 and the Cleveland Museum of Art in ’09, as well as the opportunity to participate in quarterly networking breakfasts.
  1. Opportunity to publish articles in Inter Alia, the Chapter’s award-winning e-newsletter which is distributed to the more than 10,000 attorneys admitted to practice in the Northern District of Ohio.

You will also receive the following benefits from the national Federal Bar Association:

  1. Access to a network of federal practitioners that reaches all 50 states.
  1. The opportunity to network and exchange information with federal practitioners in your local area through Chapter membership.
  1. A voice in Washington. The FBA is the foremost voice on behalf of federal practitioners. Whether it’s working with an oversight agency on new regulations that could impact federal practice or acting as an advocate on a particular initiative, the FBA advances effective practice before the federal bench.
  1. Leadership opportunities. There are many leadership opportunities available at the local, state, and national level. Your participation as a leader in a national association not only will enhance your membership experience, but will also give you cutting-edge knowledge of current developments in the federal practitioner’s arena.
  1. Access to an impressive list of incentive programs, thanks to FBA’s group buying power. Vendors include LexisNexis, MBNA America,, LegalTimes, and Liberty Mutual, to name a few.
  1. Continuing legal education (CLE)—more than 700 hours! The FBA offers annually more than 700 hours of continuing legal education on the national, regional, and local levels. FBA members receive substantial discounts on registration.

To join, please visit and click Join. If you have questions about membership in the FBA-NDOC, please call (877) 322-6364.

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