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Barristers Gala Praises Legal Excellence


(Akron, OH) -- Supporters gathered at the Hilton Akron Fairlawn to celebrate the Akron Canton Barristers’ 75th Anniversary gala Saturday September 23, 2023.

Magistrate Cara Ford, Gala co-chair, gave welcome remarks thanking those in attendance for their support saying, “by your presence here tonight, you are helping us continue our goal of dreaming big, and we hope that tonight, you will see and hear from Barristers and understand our pride of celebrating 75 years of service.”

“Despite an ever-changing world, the Akron-Canton Barristers have survived largely due to the support of its members and the generosity of those attending today; welcome and thank you,” said Barristers President Atty. Cedric B. Colvin.

New judges earning the Barristers Club “Gavel of Justice Award and Prosecutors “Scale of Justice Award”, were praised for their successful career achievements and becoming members of the Akron/Canton Barristers.

The Honorable Judge Carla Baldwin, who was elected Judge in Youngstown Municipal Court, received the “Gavel of Justice Award.” She presides over misdemeanor criminal cases and recently worked as a full-time Magistrate in Mahoning County Juvenile Court.

Judge Baldwin made history on November 7, 2017, when she became the first African American female elected as judge in Mahoning County.

The Honorable Judge David Hamilton, a former Prosecutor and Summit County Councilman- District 5, is the youngest judge ever elected to the bench in Akron. He accepted The Barristers “Gavel of Justice Award.”

Judge Hamilton is founder of the MY-STARS Summer Youth Enrichment Camp. The camp is designed for youth to gain exposure to “real world” skills and experiences needed for successes in the future planning for school and life. He is currently serving his first term in the Akron Municipal Court.

The Honorable Judge Kani Hightower, was elected as a Summit County Domestic Relations Court Judge in 2022, received the “Gavil of Justice Award.” The former Municipal Court magistrate also worked as a private trial attorney in numerous counties and with her mother’s Law Firm- the Lynda Harvey Williams and Associates.

Much of Judge Hightower’s practice focused on the representation of indigent and underrepresented clients, or individuals struggling with significant needs. As an attorney, Hightower believed that every individual needed fair and competent representation.

Atty Kyle Stone made history when he was elected Stark County Prosecuting Attorney in 2020. With only a budget of $12,000, Stone beat his incumbent candidate with the tremendous support of the community.

Prosecutor Stone is recognized with the “Scale of Justice Award” for leading his Prosecutor’s Office into a transformative, justice-focused culture, keeping his office not only connected to, but understanding the community of which it serves. Stone is also an ordained minister in Canton.

Many of the program guests received prizes with a raffle drawing for door prizes that included Ben Crumps book “Open season along with two of the Civil Rights Attorney’s neck ties from his tie collection, $50 Amazon gift card, “Movie Black Panther Monopoly game and more.

Atty Jackie Silas- Butler, past barristers club president, shared the proud history of the club that started with 11 founding members in 1948. Now, it touts over 112 members.

The Barristers paid respect with a candlelight ceremony in loving memory of former Barristers that have passed away throughout the years.

There was family representation to light a candle in honor of their fallen heros: Akron Municipal Court Judge Joseph Roulhac – by his daughter Delores Roulhac Nance, US Bancurpcy Judge Randolph Baxter by State Rep. Tavis Galonski, and Summit County Common Pleas Judge James R. Williams- by his son Michael Williams.

Past Barristers Club presidents attending the gala were : Atty Angela Tucker Cooper, Atty Edward Gilbert, Atty. Jacqueline Silas-Butler, Atty Edward T. Smith, and Atty Montrelle Jackson,

Programs or organizations that are great supporters of the Barristers scholarship fund, recognized by Past Barristers President Atty Eward Gilbert, were Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Foundation, Akron Municipal Court – accepted by Atty Montrella Jackson, Akron NAACP- by President Judi Hill , and Slater and Zurs Law Firm- accepted by Atty Jim Slater.

Your Reporter Newspaper Editor William R. Ellis, Jr received the “Light in the Darkness” award. A graduate of South High School abnd YSU, Ellis has been the leader of Akron longest serving weekly Black Weekly newspaper for over 40 years.

Atty Cedric Colvin gave recognition to Akron Municipal Court Judge Annalisa S. Williams- a native of Youngstown and a graduate of Youngstown South High School.

He described Judge Williams humorously as “one who gives so many chances to the defendants that come before her court.” “They can come before her three or four times before she really comes down on them. It’s always ‘Alright! I’m giving you one more chance to get your act together,’ she would tell them,”

Those in the crowd found it humorous but true considering how caring and forgiving the judge really is. Judge Williams humbly accepted her appreciation award receiving a standing ovation.

This is a reprint from The Reporter- Akron/Canton’s weekly Black newspaper where Lynn Lee is a photo/journalist.

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