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2016 Annual Luncheon of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the American Constitution Society (ACS)

IMG_2883 On Tuesday, July 12th, we attended the 2016 Annual Luncheon of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the American Constitution Society (ACS) that we held at the City Club of Greater Cleveland. On this day, Mr. Steven M. Dettelbach, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio from 2009 to 2016 and now Partner at BakerHostetler, would be the well-deserving recipient of the 2016 Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones Public Service Award.

Among the people that we were privileged to meet at this luncheon were members of Mr. Dettelbach's family who were Mr. Tom Dettelbach, his father; Ms. Marcia Dettelbach, his mother; Ms. Myrna Dettelbach, his stepmother; Mr. Richard Dettelbach, his uncle; Ms. Iona Dettelbach, his aunt; and Mr. Mel Jacobs, his cousin. Ms. Marcia Dettelbach told us that she had known Ms. Margaret W. Wong "longer than I care to remember."

Another person who had known Ms. Wong a long time who was there was Mr. Mark Wallach who told us that in addition to knowing Ms. Wong, he also ate at her sister's restaurant.

We had good pre-luncheon conversations with Mr. Michael A. Azre regarding immigration and the importance of the U.S. Supreme Court and Ms. Joan Shackleton, a veteran paralegal. Ms. Shackleton told us that she used to work for the U.S. Department of Justice and so she frequently had dealings with the U.S. Attorney's office. Accordingly, she believed that Mr. Steve Dettelbach was a "great guy" and hoped that he would pursue public office some day.

When it came time to eat lunch we enjoyed sharing a table with Mr. Jacobs, Mr. Dettelbach's cousion; Ms. Caitlin Hill, a staffer for 8th District Court of Appeals Judge Melody J. Stewart; Mr. Byron Krantz and Mr. Andrew Kohn, both IMG_2885experienced attorneys and friends of Ms. Wong.

In the course of the program on this day, it was announced by Ms. Alicia J. Yass, Director of the Lawyers Chapters of the ACS in Washington, DC that the Northeast Ohio Chapter had been named "Chapter of the Year" and Mr. Ryan Babiuch, Co-Chair of Programming, talked about future programs of the ACS that we want to explore attending like one on terrorism and privacy rights coming up in August.

The main body of the program opened with a "welcome" by Mr. Michael Meuti, President of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the ACS and Partner at BakerHostetler. He reviewed the history of the ACS which is now in its 15th year nationwide. He said that those who are members are united by their dedication to the Constitution of the United States and its core values. He said that the Northeast Ohio Chapter was celebrating its 10th year of existence and it is one of the strongest chapters in the country. He was at the first luncheon back in 2006 where the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs was also an attendee. Mr. Meuti was very impressed by the late U.S. Congresswoman's dedication to public service and said that it was only appropriate that the Public Service award be named after her. As for Mr. Dettelbach, Mr. Meuti said that he had known him ever since he was a young attorney just starting out but even then found his passion very inspiring and believed his accomplishments in the area of civil rights throughout his career to be amazing particularly how he worked with Mayor Frank Jackson (last year's Public Service award recipient) on establishing Cleveland's Consent Decree on behalf of better public/police relationships.He concluded by saying that Mr. Dettelbach had been an easy choice to receive this year's Public Service award.

Mr. Meuti then introduced Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to make the presentation. Mayor Jackson said that he believed that public service was an honor and a great calling but it is not for everyone; however, those who engage in it can make a positive contribution to our lives which is what Mr. Dettelbach has done. Mayor Jackson then spoke about how fortunate it was to work on the Consent Decree with someone as dedicated as Mr. Dettelbach. In fact, his involvement made the hiring of outside consultants unnecessary which is a rare thing, indeed. Mr. Dettelbach thanked Mayor Jackson for all that he had taught him as well as Mr. Meuti and all of the people associated with BakerHostetler which is now 100 years old. Mr. Dettelbach said that his firm not only tolerates public service and diversity but they celebrate it! He said that he was very pleased to receive an award named after the late U.S. Congresswoman Jones because she was his good friend and he missed her laughter and her passion. He recalled a time years before when his mother told him that she planned to work on Ms. Stephanie Tubbs Jones first judicial campaign because she founds Ms. Tubbs Jones to be very inspiring. He also respected the ACS because it promotes the U.S. Constitution as a way to help people in the course of their daily lives which is why he chose to become a lawyer. He was also inspired by his father, an attorney who represented ordinary people who were undergoing very tough times such as a man who had lost his leg in a forklift accident.

He then talked about a case that he was involved in years ago which involved which involved the prosecution of criminals conducting a human trafficking ring in El Monte, California where 70 undocumented women from Thailand were being forced to slave in a sweatshop. Mr. Dettelbach said that these women were subjected to a "nightmare" but it took a while to get them to trust the prosecution team and other law enforcement officials because, in the country from where they came law enforcement was not on the side of the worker.

Mr. Dettelbach admitted that he thought that he would "rise to the rescue" and show these women what the United States was all about. Instead these immigrant women from Thailand wowed him and everyone else by showing great courage as they testified against their captors; no one thought they were up to it but they were. Moreover, they were not bitter; they really believed in this country and our constitution.

In the end, the criminals were successfully prosecuted and as the women were leaving the courtroom, they bowed to Mr. Dettelbach and the prosecution team. Mr. Dettelbach said that this was "the greatest honor that he ever received as a lawyer" and, Ultimately, Mr. Dettelbach believe that he was the one who really learned something.

Mr. Dettelbach then talked about how challenging it was to put the Consent Decree together but he and Mayor Jackson and the other people working on it persevered and put together something that he believes will greatly benefit police/community relations. He concluded his acceptance speech by saying that "when times are tough, we must respond with creativity, hope and unity. This is the legal of Stephanie Tubbs Jones."

By:

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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