A police officer who feeds the homeless, a teacher who inspires her seventh-grade students and a beloved judicial assistant were among the recipients at this year’s Lee County Bar Association Law Week Awards Luncheon. Bar President John Webb served as host as the organization honored exceptional accomplishments in law enforcement, law-related education and citizenship on Friday, May 3, at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.
Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson, Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello, Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane, State Attorney Amira Fox and several members of the state, circuit and county judiciaries were among the dignitaries in attendance. The ceremony was the culmination of the bar’s 26th annual Law Week, a series of activities that included free legal consultations for the public, a blood drive and a live display of appellate court proceedings for high school students.
“The purpose of the Law Week Awards Luncheon is to reserve a special day of celebration by the members of the Lee County legal community in appreciation for the dedication and commitment from our law enforcement officers, teachers and every citizen who promotes the idea of ‘equality and justice under law,’” said the Hon. Judge John Carlin, Law Week Committee chair.
Joanne Atkins, judicial assistant to Carlin since 1992, received the Liberty Bell Award, which goes each year to an outstanding member of the community and is the most prestigious honor the bar bestows. The Hon. Judge G. Keith Cary read a heartfelt letter Carlin wrote detailing Atkins’ work to support the application of justice, the development of Law Week and the community at large.
Fox presented Law Enforcement Officer of the Year awards to exemplary members of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Sanibel police departments. Cape Coral Police Officer Jonathan Duffy was recognized as Officer of the Year for going beyond the call of duty to care for the city’s homeless population. Sheriff’s deputies Ryan Lynn and Brian Walkowiak were honored for their heroic apprehension of an armed man. Fort Myers Police Lt. Roger Valdivia was recognized for his lengthy service to the department and contributions to the funeral of fallen officer Adam Jobbers-Miller. Sanibel Police Officer Magdiel Bernier and Sgt. John Jakubowski received their awards for rescuing a drowning swimmer.
Jaclyn Baker, a civics teacher at Three Oaks Middle School, won the Dr. James A. Adams Lee County Teacher of the Year for Law-Related Education Award. She delivered a stirring speech about the challenges students overcome to connect in a lasting and meaningful way with the material they learn.
“The Law Week Awards recipients embody the intrinsic value of the rule of law in civil society,” said Lisa Poulin, executive director for the Lee County Bar Association. “They demonstrate the importance of cooperation and collaboration to a thriving community.”
Call Poulin at 239-334-0047 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about all the services the bar performs for Lee County.