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2019 Outstanding Pro Bono Attorneys of the Year

Erin Norris Bass and Booker T. Evans, Jr. (Phoenix Division), and Sesaly Stamps (Tucson Division) were selected to receive the District of Arizona’s Outstanding Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award for 2019. Chief Judge Snow virtually presented the awards at FBA Zoom events on September 17 and September 24, 2020. The Court greatly appreciates the time and efforts of all of its volunteer attorneys, and faced a difficult choice in selecting the recipients of the award. Erin, Booker and Sesaly stood out for the following reasons.

Erin Norris Bass was appointed to represent a prisoner plaintiff who survived summary judgment in a civil rights action. As a young litigator, Ms. Bass did an excellent job in response to skilled opponents. After a four day trial with very limited guidance and support from senior litigators with her firm, the jury granted her client judgment—awarding nominal punitive damage claims. After the verdict, the parties negotiated a settlement that was acceptable to all sides. Ms. Bass did an excellent job. In accepting her award, Ms. Bass expressed her appreciation for the opportunity to litigate a federal jury trial case. Ms. Bass’s law firms, Steptoe & Johnson and Denton Law Firm, were recognized for supporting Ms. Bass’s pro bono work.

Booker T. Evans, Jr. is a recent retiree from GreenbergTraurig, with a highly respected 25+ year legal career, who volunteered to consult with individuals seeking assistance through the U.S. District Court (Phoenix) Advice-Only Clinic. He generously shares his vast knowledge and experience and is considered one of the district’s most enthusiastic volunteers. Chief Judge Snow noted that Mr. Evans volunteered despite his very busy schedule. Mr. Evans acknowledged the importance of volunteering and encouraged others to volunteer their time and talents.

Sesaly Stamps, a shareholder at DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy, volunteers on a monthly basis at the Tucson advice-only federal court clinic managed by Step Up to Justice. She has donated countless hours to advise self-represented litigants about their employment disputes, and has accepted some litigants for direct representation. Ms. Stamps represented one of those litigants at an unsuccessful mediation, after which she filed a lawsuit on the litigant’s behalf. Soon thereafter, the employer agreed to a settlement in favor of the litigant. Ms. Stamps regularly demonstrates her commitment to access to justice. Ms. Stamps thanked her firm for supporting pro bono work, and Step Up to Justice for its support of volunteer programs such as the federal court advice-only clinic

L to R: Chief Judge Snow, Erin Bass, Booker T. Evans, Jr

L to R: Chief Judge Snow, Sesaly Stamps

Pro bono representation of parties in civil cases, who are unable to afford an attorney, is an important responsibility of the bar. In addition to providing a valuable service to pro se litigants and the Court, many attorneys find volunteering is a rewarding way to give back to the community and to develop federal court experience.

The United States District Court for the District of Arizona offers opportunities for lawyers to assist self-represented litigants, and we encourage all bar members and law firms to please consider becoming a member of our Civil Litigation Panel. Training is available, and volunteer lawyers receive recognition from the Court at various events throughout the year. We hope to welcome you too as a participant in our Pro Bono Volunteer Program.

Thank you to all of the federal court attorney volunteers. Congratulations to Erin, Booker and Sesaly.