Ferguson. In the span of half a year it has gone from the name of a suburb of little renown to a national byword for issues of race and class. It has galvanized debates across the board, from the relationship between police and the communities they patrol to the structure of municipal courts and the cities that depend on the revenue they generate.
It was, in short, a very big legal news story, which is exactly what we look for when selecting the winners of our Missouri Lawyer Awards. The results certainly show: Seven of our 19 honorees have a direct connection to the fallout from Ferguson. That includes our Lawyer of the Year, ACLU Legal Director Tony Rothert, whose legal exploits Senior Reporter Heather Cole recounts in her profile on page 10.
Ferguson, of course, wasn’t the only thing going on in 2014, for Rothert or for our other recipients. Same-sex marriage became a reality in parts of the state. A man
accused of murder won his freedom. Lawmakers performed a heavy lift on the state’s 1,100-page criminal code reform. The appellate courts turned out pro and con rulings on punitive damages, as well as significant opinions on patents and, improbably, a flying hot dog. And Missouri’s law firms went about the quiet business of thriving.
And while these events dominated the headlines, plaintiffs’ and defense lawyers alike were busy in Missouri courtrooms, winning the verdicts, settlements and defense victories that we recognize today.
Please join us in honoring the Missouri Lawyer Award winners of 2015.