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Christine Morganti
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EAJ Holds 2nd Annual Justice for All Ball

Indiana Jones, Vanilla Pop, and Cherries Jubilee Made It a Ball

by Dorma Seago

Albuquerque, N.M. – The McGinn Law Firm bid $1,010 and Randi McGinn made sure she got a picture of the item—a pecan pie. Top bidders and lucky members of the Young Lawyers Division threw in $1,110 and won the top prize—flaming cherries jubilee prepared by Joe Conte. The natural instincts of a bunch of competitive lawyers, the goal of raising money for Equal Access to Justice and, well, just the fun of it, made the “Dessert Dash” at the 2nd Annual Justice for All Ball a huge success. Tables bid against each other for cakes—including an Indiana Jones cake complete with whip— torts, pies, cup cakes, and chocolate, strawberries and whipped cream galore. All together, the dessert auction raised $8,640 for Equal Access to Justice.

“Kate Mulqueen’s pie was worth every penny to help provide legal services for the disadvantaged,” said McGinn.

The ball was held Nov. 14 at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque to raise money for EAJ and to recognize outstanding individuals whose work ensures justice for all in New Mexico.

The recipients of the 2009 Pamela B. Minzner Equal Access to Justice Award were John D. Robb, partner in the Rodey Law Firm; Albert W. Schimmel of the Schimmel Law office; and the Rodey Law Firm.

Robb served as chair of the ABA standing committee on legal aid for the indigent and headed the New Mexico Christian Legal Aid organization. He helped to start legal aid efforts in New Mexico and has been a loyal and generous supporter of EAJ.

“I’m speechless,” Robb said. “What a great honor to be recognized by my peers.”

Schimmel has amassed countless pro bono hours helping New Mexicans with bankruptcy and other issues. He encouraged all to give, “whether it be of money or of time.”

The Rodey Law Firm has supported EAJ for 21 years and Rodey attorneys Kip Purcell and Ed Ricco serve on the EAJ board. The firm is the largest financial contributor to legal aid in New Mexico. Chuck Vigil accepted the award for Rodey.

KRQE anchor and reporter Michael Herzenberg was on hand to interview a client who recounted her story of domestic abuse and the assistance she received from New Mexico Legal Aid.

EAJ Coordinator Kate Mulqueen and Young Lawyers Division Chair Martha Chicoski co-chaired this year’s event.

“It’s a total team effort of all the volunteers and YLD members. I’ve already had meetings for next year,” said Mulqueen. “It can be exhausting and so much work, but I always have an absolutely wonderful time. I just appreciate all those who work so hard to make it happen.”

In the end, 360 attended the ball, which raised almost $19,000 for EAJ.

“I am thrilled by the turnout as well as the generous support shown for civil legal services by our legal community,” Chicoski agreed. “It was wonderful to see how the planning committee’s hard work resulted in a fun and memorable evening. Many thanks to all of our guests and sponsors, as well as Kate Mulqueen, Robert Lara, and Michael Herzenberg, without whom the evening would not have been possible.”

After the speeches, dinner, and presentations, the Vanilla Pop band provided the music for dancing. Robb and his wife of 63 years were the first on the floor.

“I’ve just had knee replacement surgery,” he told the crowd. “Pray for me.”

And according to the generous winners, the pecan pie and the cherries jubilee were fabulous.

Winners of Pamela B. Minzner Equal Access to Justice Award


The State Bar of New Mexico was organized in 1886 and is composed of more than 8500 members. Its purposes are to aid the courts in administering justice and preserving the rule of law, and to foster a high standard of integrity and competence within the legal profession.