Category: Press Releases

06 Nov 2019

Young Students Learn From Armenian Bar Trial Advocacy Coaches

For the fifth year, the Armenian Bar Association has facilitated a program consisting of its own volunteer members to teach and train Armenian high school and middle school students for the annual Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) Mock Trial Program. These volunteer attorneys, consisting of prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other types of practitioners, work to introduce school educators and students to the program and, more importantly, they serve as hands-on helpful coaches.

Following months of after-school training regimens and intensive practice sessions, the latest installment of the CRF competition in Los Angeles County culminated in November 2019 in lifelike courtroom proceedings.  Each school assembled a team of litigation participants for a criminal law case whose common fact pattern formed the basis of the presentations. In head-to-head competitions presided over by actual sitting judges and eminent lawyers, the students assumed the roles of prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses and bailiffs.

The participating schools are AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School (both middle and high schools); Manoukian High School; and Mesrobian Armenian School (both middle and high school teams).  Special thanks to our attorney-coaches: MDS Middle School – Tony Forberg and Janine Soukasian; MDS High School – Rouman Ebrahim, Naris Khalatian, Armen Mitilian and Aslin Tutuyan; MHS – Ani Papirian; Mesrobian Middle School – Ashod Mooradian; Mesrobian High School – Alexandra Kazarian and Ashod Mooradian. Judge Armenui Ashvanian has provided additional support to the students with courtroom visits, and meetings with the Offices of the District Attorney and Public Defender.  She has also helped prepare students with scrimmages leading up to the competition.  

In 1980, the CRF introduced the Mock Trial program, which already had a strong following in Los Angeles County, to all the counties in California. The program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of the judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. The program currently involves 36 California counties, hundreds of schools, and thousands of students.

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    MDS Middle Mock trail 2019
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18 Oct 2019


In the pleasing allure of autumn in New York City, the Armenian Bar Association held its debonair Midyear Meeting in the gilded halls of the vintage and still-lustrous Princeton Club.   Marked by extraordinary panel discussions about the exciting, challenging and changing landscapes in employment law, international practice and cross-border ADR, the hundred-some meeting attendees were at once informed and regaled by the presenters’ incisive and good-humored presentations.  The weekend program featured an upscale luncheon in a room whose walls were decked with the canvases of some of the leading pioneers who built America’s industry and, indeed, America itself.  The mid-year legal jamboree surged to sublime heights with a spectacular awards dinner celebrating the Armenian Bar’s top 20 lawyers under 40 years old who hail from many different communities in North America.

 “Our 2019 Midyear Meeting was a wonderful opportunity to showcase our rising stars in an elegant and enlightening environment, all the while making everyone feel right at home,” reflected Armenian Bar Association Chairperson Gerard V. Kassabian.  “With such outstanding quality young professionals who are fast-becoming masters at their craft while also maintaining and enlivening their traditional Armenian heritage, the Armenian Bar is doubly-blessed and singularly-gratified,” added Vice Chairperson Lucy Varpetian.

The annual gathering began on Friday, October 18, 2019, in the conference room of the doors-always-open law firm of Gallo & Darmanian, where the Association’s elected leadership met to discuss important legal issues impacting our community and ways in which to impact them most positively. Among the internal issues discussed were the recent establishment of the Armenian Bar’s permanent pro-bono services office in Glendale, California, the rapid expansion and engagement of the Association’s student and younger members, the evermore rising tide of the work of the Armenian Rights Watch Committee in Armenia and in Artsakh, and the call to action and activism coming from the Armenian Genocide Reparations Committee.   Following the Board meeting, members and guests were treated at the Princeton Club to a festive and entertaining reception where there was something for everyone, with old friends refreshing their cheers and new friends looking like they were onto something special.  

The meeting on Saturday morning began with a captivating panel discussion focused on cutting-edge employment and labor law issues. Panelists included Armen McOmber (McOmber & McOmber) , Maral Kazanjian (The We Company) and John Shahdanian (Chassan Lamparello). The panel was moderated by Armenian Bar Board and Executive Committee Member, Scott Ohnegian (Riker Danzig). The CLE program also included an interesting and enjoyable headline panel which peered into international law and alternative dispute resolution developments, including advancements in ADR as it affects the Republic of Armenia and those who transact business there. Panelists included Grant Hanessian (Baker McKenzie), Harout Samra (DLA Piper) and Levon Golendukhin (Dentons). The second panel was moderated by Armenian Bar doyen Denise Darmanian (Gallo & Darmanian).

Michael Bobelian, an award-winning author, lawyer, and journalist rose as the brilliant centerpiece to the luncheon podium from which he caught and kept people’s attention with a fascinating synopsis of his recently-published book, Battle for the Marble Palace: Abe Fortas, Earl Warren, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and the Forging of the Modern Supreme Court Palace.

The weekend reached its exhilarating crescendo with a magnum-opus awards gala held in the Princeton Club’s beautifully-appointed grand ballroom. Nearly 300 enthusiasts were all smiles, united in a unique brand of happiness that the Armenian Bar has become known to produce.  There together, we celebrated the accomplishments of 20 of our young professionals who have distinguished themselves in their professions and who have made meaningful contributions to their respective communities. The honorees, whose biographies may be found at, were Lana Akopyan (New York), Liz Al-Dajani (Chicago),  Silvia Babikian Pacia (New York),  Alex Hrag Bastian (San Francisco), Aram Gavoor (Washington, D.C.), Steve Gokberk (New York),  Allen Haroutounian (Los Angeles), Irina Hovhannisyan (New York), Alexandra Kazarian (Los Angeles), Aram Kerkonian (Montreal),  Mariam Kuregyan (Los Angeles), Malvina Mardirosyan (New York), Yelena Nersesyan (New York), Paul Der Ohannesian (New York),  Vicky Ourfalian (Los Angeles), Tigran Palyan (Los Angeles),  Harout Samra (Miami), Vartges Saroyan (New York), Karen Tonoyan (New York), and Kristapor Vartanian (Los Angeles).

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15 Oct 2019

Armenian Bar’s Judges’ Night Attracts Hundreds of Enthusiasts, Scores of Judges

On October 1, 2019, the Armenian Bar Association welcomed 70 members of the state and federal judiciaries at its Annual Judges’ Night Dinner in Glendale, California. Despite it being a Tuesday evening, hundreds gathered at the magnificent Phoenicia Restaurant to honor California Court of Appeal Justice Helen I. Bendix and California Superior Court Judge Ruth Ann Kwan for their distinguished service and their exemplary roles as paragons of integrity and emulation.

“It was a thrill and a blessing to have such a flourishing wealth of federal, appellate and trial court judges join us as we recognized two exemplary jurists for their unwavering commitment to the advancement of the rule of law and the administration of justice,” stated Armenian Bar Executive Committee Member, Saro Kerkonian.

The Annual Judges’ Night Dinner honors jurists who have distinguished themselves beyond the laudable lines of high intellect, efficiency and consistency.  It singles out for distinction those who have opened broadly the public’s access to justice, advanced the precepts of the rule of law, incorporated compassion into the fabric of their characters, and guided others in profession and in life.

Phoenicia’s outside patio swelled with pre-dinner chat and cheer during the bustling social hour, a felicitous prelude to the allure of the heaping, luscious Armenian fare at the tables. The main event began with masterful flutist, Salpy Kerkonian, performing the national anthems of the United States and the Republic of Armenia.

“I am extremely proud of our achievement tonight and must emphasize that it is our humble privilege to welcome 70 judges, which is more than double or triple the number of judges that appear at virtually any other bar association’s judges night event!” said Chairman Gerard Kassabian. “Our Annual Judges’ Night is also very special because it gives us the opportunity to create meaningful and often life-enhancing connections when we introduce sitting judges to aspiring law students.  This rich tradition grows in popularity year after year!”

The master of ceremonies, legal eagle Armen Akaragian, delighted the audience with quick-witted jokes and profound improvisations throughout the evening. Stepping off-stage, Akaragian reflected, “It truly was special to be part of such a memorable night where we all reveled in the glow of so many distinguished jurists and outstanding professionals.”

Honorable Zaven Sinanian of the California Superior Court opened with a heartfelt introduction of the first honoree, Justice Helen Bendix. He enumerated Justice Bendix’s accomplishments during her tenure within the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Mandatory Settlement program, including noting that Justice Bendix shepherded the program into the success that it is today. Judge Sinanian’s fond memories of working with Justice Bendix provided a gracious touch to the already-familial affair. Accompanying Justice Bendix at the event were her husband, U.S. District Court Judge John Kronstadt, and their children.

Justice Bendix graciously received her well-deserved honor, thanking the Armenian Bar for selecting her for the commendation. Of Jewish descent, Justice Bendix spoke movingly about the deep connections between the Armenian and Jewish peoples, including their shared trait of enduring the challenges of their harsh histories, leading each community to be more resilient than ever.

Judge Kevin Brazile, who is the Presiding Judge of the entire Los Angeles Superior Court system, introduced the next honoree, Judge Ruth Ann Kwan. He took a somewhat different and refreshing approach by sharing beautiful and captivatingly-positive comments made by other judges about Judge Kwan. On a personal note, Judge Brazile indicated that Judge Kwan had encouraged him to take affirmative steps to support greater diversity on the bench.

Judge Kwan accepted her award to a rousing ovation and praised the Armenian Bar, describing her interesting path to the judiciary. To many people’s surprise, her journey to the bench included more Armenians than many may have expected. Judge Kwan recalled that when she began considering a role in the judiciary, her husband’s business associate, Ashot, introduced her to none other than Judge Dickran Tevrizian over lunch at the Tevrizian home. With first impressions being the lasting one, Judge Tevrizian wrote her a letter of recommendation immediately after the lunch. Judge Kwan also recalled that when she was challenged while on the bench, the Armenian community of Montebello helped her secure the election and retain her seat.

As is the tradition for honorees at the Annual Judges’ Nights, Judge Kwan and Justice Bendix were presented with beautiful works of classical, illuminated art prepared by renowned artist Seroon Yeretsian, each with peaceful, majestic representations of heavenly peacocks and with original inscriptions of praise and honor.

In an evocative musical interlude, Salpy Kerkonian channeled the stirring, expressive works of Komitas and Aram Khachaturian. She embellished her musical inflections with poignant background information about Komitas, paying homage to the great muse for bringing traditional Armenian melodies to the modern era.

Also part of the evening program, not planned but most appropriate, saw Chairman Kassabian making public the Armenian Bar’s appreciation for the altogether comprehensive commitment of the chief engineer of the event, the Association’s Vice-Chairperson, Lucy Varpetian.

The Annual Judge’s Night was an event to remember. “This was my first time at the Judge’s Night and I came away impressed by the vast array of judges who came, obviously enjoyed, and stayed till the end. Kuddos to the Armenian Bar Association for getting together so many amazing and talented legal professionals for an unforgettable night,” said Arthur Saakian, a Glendale litigator.

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16 Aug 2019

Upstanding Robert Morgenthau Laid To Rest

On July 22, 2019, the Armenian Bar Association, like legion of admirers within and outside of the Armenian community, heard with deep sorrow and accepted with heavy heart the news of the passing of a bold and brave paragon of high moral character, Robert M. Morgenthau.

Mr. Morgenthau passed away 10 days short of his 100th birthday and will be remembered as an irreproachable public figure, most notably—for Americans – as New York’s long-serving district attorney and—for Armenians—as the grandson of U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau.

Knowing well that the Morgenthau family inhabits a hallowed sanctuary within the annals of American and Armenian history, separately and inter-connectedly, our leadership in New York immediately contacted the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Armenia’s Ambassador to the U.S., and Armenia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, advising of the rueful report of Mr. Morgenthau’s passing and requesting a letter of condolence from Armenia’s Prime Minister.   We also reached out to our spiritual leaders at the Diocese and the Prelacy, securing their representation at Mr. Morgenthau’s memorial service.

We, for our own part, prepared and issued a timely and touching press release. [See Armenian Bar Association Mourns the Loss of Robert M. Morgenthau.] It was widely disseminated among our members and friends.

On the eve of the memorial service at the Frank Campbell Funeral Chapel, accompanied by U.N. Ambassador Mher Margaryan and with the facilitation of Ambassador Varuzhan Nersesyan, Armenian Bar Board member Souren Israelyan personally delivered Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s letter of condolence to the Morgenthau family in which the head of government conveyed the Armenian nation’s sympathies and gratitude. [See]

On the morning of the memorial service, July 25, 2019, a delegation of Armenian Bar representatives assembled in homage to and honor of Mr. Morgenthau at Temple Emanu-El, Judaism’s largest house of worship in the world.  The Morgenthau family envisioned the service as a celebration of Robert Morgenthau’s resplendent lights of life rather than as a mournful elegy of his demise.  The temple teemed with thousands of devotees of the lasting legacy of Mr. Morgenthau.  Prominent among the attendees were priests of the Armenian Church who, cloaked in our centuries-old religious vestments, greeted the family and represented our traditional faith and unifying ecumenicalism.

As widely reported in the media, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the high societies of law and public officialdom came together in a non-partisan tribute to the rectitude and righteousness of Mr. Morgenthau. [See for example]

At the memorial service, Senior Rabbi Emeritus Ronald Sobel highlighted the transformational heritage of the Morgenthau family, starting with Henry Morgenthau, Sr.,  the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during the Armenian Genocide, followed by Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the U.S. Secretary of Treasury during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, and then encapsulated by the dearly departed, Robert Morgenthau. Mr. Morgenthau’s children and close friends spoke about his incredible life and as an exemplar of an honest and high-minded individual who, through the gift of a long and distinguished life, pioneered many causes of justice, to the very last of his days.

In his eulogy, Bob Morgenthau, the eldest of Robert Morgenthau’s sons, remembered how his father cherished loyalty in general, and the allegiance of the Armenian community in particular. He noted that, while all of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide have passed away, the Armenian community’s bonds of respect and admiration for the Morgenthau family have never diminished.  Speaking about that continuity of affinity, Bob Morgenthau pledged that the Morgenthau family’s deep and meaningful relationship with the Armenian community will remain vibrant for future generations.

While the Armenian Bar Association felt humbled last month to witness the truly moving ceremony of Robert Morgenthau’s final journey, just last year we had the good fortune of welcoming Mr. Morgenthau to our Public Servants Dinner at the Yale Club.

There, on April 26, 2018, on what have been the 162nd birthday of his grandfather Henry Morgenthau, Robert Morgenthau received one of the Armenian Bar Association’s highest honors.  The magnificent gala dinner was attended by hundreds of judges, public officials, dignitaries and, of course, by members and friends of the Armenian Bar Association.  Please see our reporting of the event and also for the text of Robert Morgenthau’s remarks as he accepted our Public Servants Award. [Video] [Speech]

15 Aug 2019

Our Thirty Wonder Years

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of its founding, the Armenian Bar Association returned to the place of its provenance, exhilarated with the energy and excitement of the Los Angeles metropolis, to convene its annual meeting on the weekend of June 28-30, 2019.

The conference showcased the Association’s enduring activism and valuable output in one of its seminal dimensions:  the protection, respect and importance of the human and civil rights of Armenians around the world and, in particular, in our homelands of Armenia and Artsakh.  The special guests from abroad were the Honorable Arman Tatoyan, Ombudsman and Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia, Artak Beglaryan, Ombudsman and Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Artsakh, and Robert Avetisyan, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Artsakh to the United States of America.

“We were incredibly honored that Dr. Tatoyan, Mr. Beglaryan and Mr. Avetisyan graciously accepted our invitation to attend and participate as our keynote speakers for our 30th annual meeting where our attendees learned of their outstanding and ground-breaking work in the field of human rights.  A very special added bonus was the presence and participation throughout the weekend of our Association’s founding father, Raffi K. Hovannisian,” said Chairman Gerard V. Kassabian. [See Hovannisian video.]

The conference schedule began on Friday, June 28th, with a meeting of the 18-member Board of Governors, where the Association’s leadership rolled up their sleeves and examined, with an eye towards improvement and innovation, the work of its robust collection of committees. Following the Board meeting, members and guests were treated to a festive and entertaining reception under the Southern California’s shining stars at the finely-appointed outdoor deck of the luxurious Sheraton Grand Hotel.  In a true reflection of the Association’s broad and all-embracing appeal, gathered together in the spirit of fun and fellowship were our founding members, judges, law professors, law students, friends and family. [See photos.]

The meeting on Saturday morning began with a plenary session where the multi-faceted workings of the Association’s affairs were shared and discussed.  Reports were provided by Student Affairs Committee Co-Chairs Aleksan Giragosian and Zepur Simonian, Scholarship Committee member Saro Kerkonian, Armenian Rights Watch Committee and Artsakh Law Initiative Committee Co-Chair Karnig Kerkonian, Armenian Genocide Reparations Committee Chairman Armen K. Hovannisian, Pro Bono Committee member Lucy Varpetian.  The Nominations Committee then presented the slate of recommended members to the Board of Governors.  The nominees, two accomplished newcomers and four incumbents, were unanimously approved by the membership. [See photos.]

“We are thrilled that Deputy District Attorney Alex Hrag Bastian of San Francisco and esteemed civil litigator Souren Israelyan of New York City, along with a team of veteran members, were elected to three-year terms on the Board of Governors.  They bring the passion and energy to carry forward the positive momentum that the Armenian Bar Association has developed in the past several years,” said Co-Vice Chairwoman Lucy Varpetian.

After the business portion of the meeting, the first signature panel discussion explored the plunder of historic Armenia’s native culture and civilization and an examined the legal opportunities and challenges in restoring some of what was wrongfully taken. Moderated by Board member Armen K. Hovannisian, the panel opened with a riveting visual presentation by attorney Matthew Karanian rooted in his monumental pictorial and documentary work of critical acclaim, “The Armenian Highland.”  Mr. Karanian presented a photographic simulation of his travels through Western Armenia documenting the evidence of religious sites, cultural artifacts and the remains of the heart-breaking ruins throughout the region.  [See Karanian video.] Then, in a most timely and illuminating presentation for the attendees, Thaddeus Stauber of Nixon Peabody, LLP spoke candidly about the often windy and uphill road to recover articles and areas of cultural heritage.  His perspective was thought-provoking, sobering and constructive insofar as Mr. Stauber is known to represent successfully the world’s leading cultural institutions and foreign sovereigns in connection with Nazi looted art claims.  His candid view from the other side of the litigation divide provided valuable lessons which will go a long way in informing future Armenian Genocide-related restitution efforts. [See Stauber video.]

The morning session was followed by a sumptuous luncheon where the guest speaker was the Honorable Gassia Apkarian, Judge of the Superior Court of California for the County of Orange.  Following a light-hearted, engaging, and endearing introduction by Superior Court Judge Maria Daghlian-Hernandez, Judge Apkarian offered her personal and professional insights with respect to former governmental administrations of the Republic of Armenia and posed constructive critiques of the current state of the Republic’s judiciary. 

After the luncheon, the nearly one hundred people in attendance listened and engaged with great interest the second signature panel moderated by Board member Garo B. Ghazarian. The audience heard of the extraordinary work of the Ombudsmen and Human Rights Defenders of the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh.  Messrs. Tatoyan and Beglaryan each provided a comprehensive overview of the purpose of their offices and how they and their staff members go about achieving their institutional objectives.  Both Ombudsmen emphasized that their positions are non-partisan and that they do not serve at the whim or direction of the government in power, but rather are independent investigatory and advocacy bodies.  They also described how their professional independence is safeguarded by the fact that they are not subject to recall by any of the branches of government. [See video.]

The weekend ended with a big bang and beautiful tribute. A dazzling celebration of the monumental lifetime achievements of Judge Dickran Tevrizian took place at the magnificent California Club where more than three hundred guests came to honor the pioneering work and regal influence of Judge Tevrizian and to mark and revel in the Association’s thirty years of  excellence and virtue. [See Tevrizian video.]  [See photos.]

15 Aug 2019


From June 27 through July 3, 2019, Armenia and Artsakh were in Los Angeles. The Armenian Bar Association called, and the Hayrenik answered.

Armenia and Artsakh came to Los Angeles and headlined the Armenian Bar’s 30th Anniversary Conference in a panel entitled “What Is and What Is Not Today’s Republics of Armenia and Artsakh”. The countries joined friends and family of the Armenian Bar Association at its Gala Banquet honoring US District Judge Dickran Tevrizian, Ret. Representing Armenia was its celebrated Human Rights Defender, Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan, who also serves as an Ad Hoc Judge of European Court of Human Rights. Representing Artsakh, its fierce and inimitable Human Rights Ombudsman, Artak Beglaryan. For seven (7) consecutive days the Armenian Bar Association shared this unique dual presence of the human rights ombudsmen of Armenia and Artsakh with the Armenian community of Southern California.

A Week of Intense and Productive Meetings and Events

The working visit began with a dinner meeting with the Armenian Bar Board on June 27, followed by meetings with the UCLA’s Promise Institute in the morning of June 28th. In the afternoon on that same day, the Ombudsmen participated in the Board Meeting of the Armenian Bar Association at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Los Angeles. The event was capped by an al fresco cocktail reception on Friday evening.

Saturday, June 29th was spent in an all-day conference featuring our very own Matthew Karanian, Esq. who was joined by Thaddeus Stauber, Esq. in a presentation exploring “The Winding Roads of ‘Genocide Claims’ in the 21st Century.” The panel discussion was moderated by Armen K. Hovannisian, the Chairman of the Association’s Armenian Genocide Reparation Committee—AGRC. In the final segment of the Association’s conference on Saturday afternoon, the Ombudsmen presented their respective perspectives on the state of affairs in Armenia and Artsakh. [See video.] Serving as the moderator was Garo B. Ghazarian, Co-Chair of the Bar’s Armenian Rights Watch Committee—ARWC. That evening, and together with the human rights ombudsmen, the Association celebrated its 30th Anniversary Gala Banquet at the prestigious California Club in downtown Los Angeles.

On Sunday, June 30, and after a morning Board meeting, Ombudsmen Arman Tatoyan and Artak Beglaryan were accompanied by an Armenian Bar Association delegation to a meeting with California State Senator Anthony Portantino. Thereafter, they joined members of the Armenian Bar Association at the Homenetmen’s “Victory Ball” held in the Beverly Hilton Hotel where the ombudsmen were announced to a crowd of more than a thousand Armenians gathered in celebration of the 101 year tradition marked by the call Partsratsir yev Partsratsur.

Monday, July 1st began with a working meeting at the USC Institute for Armenian Studies. The afternoon brought meetings with the Southwestern Law School and Loyola Law School’s “Genocide Studies Center.” The early evening was time for a reception at the Republic of Armenia’s Consulate, co-hosted by the Honorable Dr. Armen Baibourtian, Consul General of the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian Bar Association. That evening, the Armenian Bar took the Ombudsmen to an introductory visit to the Board of the Armenian National Committee of America, Western Region (ANCA-WR). Thereafter, Mr. Charlie Galian and the Homenetmen-Western Region Board hosted the Ombudsmen and the Armenian Bar delegation to a private dinner.

Tuesday, July 2nd, included a working visit by the Ombudsmen who accompanied the Armenian Bar delegation to Los Angeles City Hall for a discussion with the Hon. Paul Kerkorian, Council-Member, and Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles for International Affairs, Hon. Nina Hachigian. That same afternoon, the Armenian Bar Association delegation escorted the Ombudsmen to a meeting with the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Western Region Board (AGBU-WR). The evening closed with an an intimate supper at the home of Armenian Bar Association board member, Garo B. Ghazarian.

Finally, on Wednesday morning, prior to heading for the airport to board a flight back to Armenia, our Ombudsmen took in the final meeting of their trip. They sat down for a spirited discussion with Mr. Max Huntsman, Inspector General for the County of Los Angeles’ Sheriff Department. Our very own Chris Keosian, Esq. joined the Ombudsmen and Armenian Bar delegation.

From the moment the Ombudsmen arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), they were greeted by an Armenian Bar Board Representative and, throughout the seven (7) days, they were accompanied by an Armenian Bar Association delegation. The Ombudsmen were also accompanied throughout their trip to Los Angeles by the Ambassador of the Republic of Artsakh, the Honorable Robert Avetisyan, the Permanent Representative of Artsakh for the United States and Canada, based in Washington D.C. Ambassador Avetisyan remains very active with the Association’s Artsakh Legal Initiative Committee—ALIC, co-chaired by brothers Saro Kerkonian, Esq. and Karnig Kerkonian, Esq.

A Milestone Week Marking Substantive Progress and Unparalleled Camaraderie

Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan captured the meaningful bonds established over the intense seven days: “You’ve wholeheartedly embraced us and, with your embrace, you’ve enthralled us.” Artak Beglarian the Human Rights Ombudsman of Artsakh and the house-guest of Armenian Bar board member Armen Hovanissian’s family, noted the value of having the Armenian Bar Association delegation in step with them in this historic working visit: “The Human Rights Defenders of Armenia and Artsakh feel very well defended and protected by the Armenian Bar Association,” he said, describing as well they many doors opened and valuable connections made.

On July 3rd, back again at LAX, there were deep embraces but no goodbyes exchanged. Working delegations from Armenian Bar Association will return to Armenia and Artsakh—some later this month, some in the next month, and others in the months ahead, ensuring that the faithful bond between the Armenian Bar Association and the institutions of the ombudsmen in Armenia and Artsakh will remain firm and forever embracing, as no distance can keep apart those kindred spirits who are devoted to further the work of human rights in the homeland and, in doing so, fuel the Armenian nation and the Armenian people always toward the just and right.

24 Jul 2019


The Armenian Bar Association mourns the loss of a renowned public servant and legal titan, Robert Morgenthau, who dedicated himself to a long and prominent life in public service.  Scion of a family dedicated to public service and noted for its devotion to the Armenian people, Robert Morgenthau, distinguished himself for serving in the nation’s military, as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and most famously and prominently as the Manhattan District Attorney.

Robert Morgenthau and his family will forever be endeared in the hearts of Armenians everywhere for their unwavering support of the Armenian people during their darkest hours. His grandfather, Henry Morgenthau Sr., who served as the United States ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913-1916, was steadfast and resolute in drawing the world’s attention to the systematic atrocities, massacres and deportation marches committed by the Turkish government against Armenians in Turkey. Robert Morgenthau continued the work of his grandfather in never letting the world forget about Turkey’s systematic destruction of its Armenian population that became known as the Armenian genocide. In a more recent article in the January 18, 2018 issue of The Wall Street Journal, he asked the question “Will Trump Tell the Truth About the Armenian Genocide?”

At the end of that Wall Street Journal article, Robert Morgenthau eloquently argued and pled:

Every April, the president issues a proclamation recognizing the atrocity that was inflicted on the Armenian people. But bowing to Turkish pressure, that proclamation has never contained the word “genocide.” That must change.

I do not underestimate the concerns of those who say the wrath of Turkey may work against U.S. interests—as I do not dismiss those who say moving the embassy to Jerusalem may complicate peace negotiations. But a just and lasting world order cannot be built on falsehoods and equivocations. Let President Trump demonstrate that commitment once more by declaring the truth of the Armenian genocide. This would send clear message to the thugs in power around the world: Your criminal acts will not go unnoticed.

Because of his unwavering support of the Armenian people, The Armenian Bar Association honored Robert Morgenthau at its annual Public Servant’s Dinner in April 2018, where he gave a stirring and passionate speech. In what were probably his final words on the subject he said:

Today, I am told that I am in retirement. But my grandfather’s voice will not let me rest. For there is unfinished business before us. None of us can rest until there is universal acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide.

As Robert Morgenthau and his family have never forgotten the Armenians, the Armenians will never forget Robert Morgenthau and his family. Our deepest condolences go out to his family.

In the words of the venerable Armenian parable, three apples fell from heaven: one for the storyteller; one for the listener; and one for the story itself, Robert M. Morgenthau. Asdvatz hokin lusavore.

Funeral Services will be held on Thursday at Temple Emanu-El at Fifth Avenue and 65th Street, New York City, at 11:00 A.M.

20 Jul 2019

U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan (Ret.) joins Chicago Law Firm Kerkonian Dajani LLC

Kerkonian Dajani LLC announces that U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan (Ret.) has joined the firm as of counsel alongside partners Karnig Kerkonian and Elizabeth Al-Dajani. Der-Yeghiayan most recently served as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Illinois and brings his 40-year legal career and expertise to Kerkonian Dajani. Der-Yeghiayan is also honored as the first Armenian immigrant federal judge in the U.S.

“The breadth of legal knowledge and expertise that Judge Der-Yeghiayan offers our clients is truly impressive,” said Kerkonian. “We are thrilled to be working alongside Judge Der-Yeghiayan today and in years to come on all of our global legal matters.”

Der-Yeghiayan served as an immigration judge in the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review from 2000 to 2003. In 2003, he was nominated by President George W. Bush for the district court seat and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. He received his judicial commission in 2003 and served through February 2018. During his years on the federal bench, Der-Yeghiayan presided over many high-profile cases.

“Since I retired from the federal court, I wanted to remain active and continue to contribute to the legal profession in any capacity that I could,” said Der-Yeghiayan. “I joined Kerkonian Dajani because I am familiar with the outstanding legal work of the firm, know of the superb legal talents of its partners and appreciate the firm’s commitment to meaningful work along with its pro bono mission.”

For twenty consecutive years, Der-Yeghiayan received outstanding performance ratings as a U.S. Justice Department Attorney. Among his accolades are included the Frank J. McGarr Award of the Federal Bar Association as the outstanding federal government attorney in Chicago, the District Counsel of the Year Award from the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the attorney general of the United States.

“It truly is a privilege, both professionally and personally, to be joined by Judge Der-Yeghiayan,” said Al-Dajani, adding, “We are particularly excited that Judge Der-Yeghiayan’s professional and personal values complement our firm’s commitment to the pro bono initiatives we find so rewarding.”

Der-Yeghiayan received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Evangel University and his law degree from the Franklin Pierce Law Center (now known as the University of New Hampshire School of Law).

15 May 2019

Professor Richard Hovannisian Sharpens Armenian Genocide Teaching Skills of Arizona Educators

A special partnership between the Armenian Bar Association and BASIS.ed to develop Armenian Genocide-related educational studies in Arizona’s public schools climbed to new heights on April 29, 2019.  With the 104th anniversary of the Genocide fresh in mind, approximately 50 social science teachers from the highest-ranked network of public charter schools in America gathered together to hear a unique and constructive message of how to incorporate lessons about the Genocide into their students’ broader understanding of world history.

The teacher-training program was held at the BASIS flagship campus in Phoenix and was masterfully led by pioneer educator Professor Richard G. Hovannisian.   With deeply personal reflections about his own all-American upbringing in the San Joaquin Valley during the Great Depression – when the stories of the Armenian people’s terrible trauma went largely untold – Professor Hovannisian explained to the teachers that there are certain basic and broad themes of instruction into which the Armenian Genocide may comfortably be accommodated.

For example, whether drawing from his childhood memories about the isolation of his ethnic identity or tying together the demonization and dehumanization of various victim groups by their oppressors, Hovannisian made a compelling case of how much more alike, rather than dissimilar, the Armenian experience is to other crimes against humanity and recurring episodes of prejudice.   With nodding heads and knowing eyes, the BASIS teachers and administrators absorbed his advice with appreciation and expressed their poise to take back to their classes the lessons they had learned.

Richard Hovannisian highlighted his presentation with attention-grabbing video clips of Genocide survivors which brought the immediacy of the subject matter into clear focus for the BASIS teachers.  Nearly 50 years ago, Hovannisian initiated a ground-breaking oral history project aimed at capturing survivor testimonies and his collection of more than 1,000 accounts are now housed at U.S.C.’s  Shoah Foundation where they are being digitized and studied, both in the context of Armenians’ unique experiences and also through the wider lens of shared experiences with other groups.

In a lively question-and-answer session which followed the program, the BASIS educators probed with interest and departed with an understanding of how to welcome the Armenian Genocide into the learning lives of their students.  Thanks to Professor Hovannisian, every question was met with an uncomplicated and relatable answer.

Professor Hovannisian is widely known for his legacy of institutionalizing Armenian history and genocide scholarship at U.C.L.A.   He has lectured in nearly 40 countries, more than 150 colleges and universities, and more than 1000 public lectures and forums on six continents. Hovannisian has served as a consultant to the California State Board of Education, authoring the chapter on the Armenian Genocide in the State’s Social Studies Model Curriculum on Human Rights and Genocide. He has also served as a consultant to the Facing History and Ourselves Organization, assisted in the preparation of its resource book on the Armenian Genocide, and introduced the subject in numerous teacher-training institutes and summer workshops.

“We often struggle with how best to teach our children about one of the darkest pages of our people’s history and its long-lasting consequences of trans-generational trauma and resilience,” said Lucy Varpetian, Co-Vice Chair of the Armenian Bar Association.  “The survivors themselves may have been hesitant to share openly their stories as a guard against passing on the heavy burden of their Genocide memories.  It’s important to forge these relationships with educational institutions like BASIS so that we can learn to impart information about the Genocide to our children in more inclusive and universal ways.”

For four years, the Armenian Bar and BASIS have worked together to open and broaden the avenues of Armenian Genocide instruction in many Arizona high schools and middle schools.  Following the teachers’ workshop, a second Genocide commemoration program took place, drawing a more diverse audience of student families and members of the local Armenian community including Father Zacharia Saribekyan of Scottsdale’s St. Apkar Armenian Church, of Scottsdale’s St. Apkar Armenian Church.

(L-R) Armen K. Hovannisian (Armenian Bar), Father Zacharia Saribekyan (St. Apkar Church), Michelle Keogh (Basis), Professor Richard Hovannisian, John Hillis (Basis), Lucy Varpetian (Armenian Bar)