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KCMBA to honor mayors, others at annual meeting

Two area mayors are to receive awards today from the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.

Then-President Tom Bender watches a slideshow presentation of award winners at last year's annual meeting of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association. The 2011 meeting is tomorrow. File photo.

Also, Elizabeth Smart is scheduled to speak at the bar association’s 127th annual meeting, at the Marriott Muehlebach Hotel in downtown Kansas City. Smart, who was held prisoner for nine months after she was abducted in June 2002, plans to discuss overcoming extreme adversity, according to KCMBA’s website.

During the $50-per-ticket luncheon, the bar association plans to honor several area lawyers with awards.

Recipients of the President’s Award will be: Kansas City Mayor Sly James; Joe Reardon, mayor and chief executive officer of Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan.; Charles German, a founding member of the Rouse Hendricks German May law firm.

The bar association’s outgoing president, James Heeter, chose the recipients of the award, which recognizes those who have contributed to the success of the association during the bar year.

In a statement, Heeter said the mayors deserve the award for their leadership, professional civility and the “the outstanding cross-state collaboration they demonstrate on important issues like our Kansas City region’s new Google fiber network initiative.”

German was picked for his leadership with the Greater Kansas City Homelessness Task Force, which started as a KCMBA project and has grown in scope and impact, Heeter said.

Heeter’s colleague at SNR Denton, Jerome Wolf, is to receive the bar association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The award goes to an individual for a lifetime of outstanding service resulting in the growth and development of the law, improvement in the administration of justice and increased recognition of the legal profession’s contributions.

In the past five years, Wolf, a partner at SNR, handled two complex death penalty and habeas corpus cases in the Alabama state and federal courts. He also recently won a decision at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, negating the death penalty for a mentally-challenged inmate, according to KCMBA.

Judge Nanette Laughrey of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri will receive the Joseph E. Stevens Aspire to Excellence Award. The award recognizes an individual who has improved the quality of the administration of justice in the Kansas City area.

After Laughrey left her position as a law professor at the University of Missouri to become a federal judge, she continued her passion for teaching. From courses at the University of Missouri, to international travels to teach the rule of law in the U.S., she continues to educate future legal leaders, according to KCMBA.

Sara Bruchman, an associate at Walters Bender Strohbehn & Vaughan, is to receive the YLS (Young Lawyers Section) President’s Award. Bruchman has helped the YLS and KCMBA with several projects, including the KCMBA’s Mentor Program.

The annual meeting marks the start of new bar association leaders. Nancy Kenner, a partner at Kenner Schmitt Nygaard, is the incoming president.