The Jewish legal community Awards Night honors two judges, a lawyer and a law student.
Two beloved Jewish judges — who ironically both died on the same day in February — were fondly remembered at the Jewish Bar Association of Michigan’s (JBAM) annual Awards Night on May 23 at the Westin Hotel in Southfield.
U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn and retired Oak Park District Court Judge Benjamin J. Friedman both passed away on Feb. 4.
Judge Cohn was last year’s winner of JBAM’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Beginning this year, the award is named in Judge Cohn’s memory. A message from his grandson, attorney Harrison Magy, was read at the event.
This year’s Avern Cohn Lifetime Achievement honoree was U.S. District Senior Judge Bernard A. Friedman. His courtroom in Downtown Detroit’s Theodore J. Levin U.S. Courthouse was next to Cohn’s, and Cohn and Friedman became close friends. Friedman, in his acceptance remarks, praised Judge Cohn as an inspiration.
Judge Friedman is noted for his overturning of Michigan’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage, which became a basis for the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling guaranteeing the right to marry.
An attorney advocating for same-sex marriage in that case was Dana Nessel, now the Michigan attorney general. Nessel was last year’s recipient of JBAM’s Ruth Bader Ginsberg Champion of Justice Award.
This year’s Ruth Bader Ginsberg Champion of Justice Award recipient was Judge Michelle Friedman Appel of the 45B District Court in Oak Park. In accepting her award, Judge Appel praised her father, Judge Benjamin J. Friedman, whom she succeeded after his 34-year career on that same court, and who, like Judge Cohn, passed away on Feb. 4. Judge Appel’s mother, Annie Friedman, and sister Susan Lichterman were present for the ceremony.
JBAM Treasurer Andrew Cohen awarded the Charles J. Cohen $1,500 scholarship to Louis Magidson, a student at U-D Mercy School of Law. He is the son of attorneys Rochelle Lento and Mark Magidson of Detroit.
Outgoing JBAM President Ellie Mosko presented the Volunteer of the Year Award to Rachel Loebl Serman. As a founder of JBAM and its first president, Serman has provided years of service to the cause.
The Jewish Bar Association of Michigan is an affinity group of attorneys, judges, law students and paralegals united to provide social, educational and charitable activities to benefit the profession and society. For information or to join, visit jewishbar.org or email JBAM President Nargiz Nesimova at firstname.lastname@example.org.