Tag: Armenian Bar Association

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.]

14 May 2019

Armenian Bar Champions Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and N.Y. Judicial Conduct Commission Leader Robert Tembeckjian at Public Servants Celebration

New York—The Armenian Bar Association’s New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Chapter hosted its annual Public Servants Dinner at the Yale Club in midtown Manhattan on April 25, 2019, where it conferred its coveted Public Servant Award on two prominent public servants: Robert H. Tembeckjian, the Administrator & Counsel to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, and Rod J. Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice. The event, which was sold out well in advance, was attended by prominent members of the practicing Bar, over 70 judges of the appellate and trial courts, over 20 present and former federal and state prosecutors, and more than 25 other public servants at the international, national, state and local levels, including numerous bar association presidents.

“The Armenian Bar Association is committed to promoting public service, recognizing those who devote their professional lives to serving the public and embody the best qualities for such noble endeavor. Tonight, we acknowledge the distinguished lifetime achievements of two of our own, Robert H. Tembeckjian and Rod J. Rosenstein, as Public Servants of the Year for 2019. With the amazing co-chairs and committee members we look forward to carrying on this grand tradition in the years ahead,” said organizing committee co-chair Souren A. Israelyan.

The Public Servant Award was first conferred on Robert H. Tembeckjian, who has been a devoted public servant working at the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct since 1976, and since 2003 has been serving as the Commission’s Administrator & Counsel. With a Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Mr. Tembeckjian was a Fulbright Scholar who went to Armenia in 1994. There, he taught constitutional law and ethics at the American University of Armenia and Yerevan State University. Both honorees of the evening delivered substantive, timely and groundbreaking speeches.

Mr. Tembeckjian called attention to the need of our country’s leadership to show compassion and empathy to the plight of refugees and immigrants, as he recalled how his grandparents, survivors of the Armenian Genocide, arrived in America as undocumented aliens. He described the circumstances by which his grandmother eventually was allowed to remain in the United States and become a United States citizen: “. . . my illegal immigrant grandmother was reprieved by a government that understood it could both uphold the law and postpone its consequences for humanitarian reasons; a government that took time to examine and differentiate among the many who sought its refuge, that did not invoke scripture to promote exclusion at the expense of decency or justice.” (Full speech here.)

The evening’s next featured Public Servant Award recipient was Rod J. Rosenstein, the 37th Deputy Attorney General of the United States. Mr. Rosenstein began his legal career by serving as a law clerk to Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He started his career at the Department of Justice at age 25. He also served as the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland from 2005 to 2017. As the second in command at the Department of Justice, Mr. Rosenstein advised and assisted the Attorney General in formulating and implementing the Department of Justice’s policies and programs and in providing overall supervision to all organizational units of the Department. Most recently, Mr. Rosenstein also oversaw the work of Special Counsel to the Justice Department, Robert S. Mueller III, as he investigated the question of Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election.

Mr. Rosenstein’s speech, which was covered by major news organizations, including CNN, the Washington Post, New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal, were his first public comments on the Mueller Report since it was published just days earlier. Mr. Rosenstein explained in detail his role and that of the Justice Department during the Mueller investigation. He stressed: “As acting Attorney General, it was my responsibility to make sure that the Department of Justice would do what the American people pay us to do: conduct an independent investigation; complete it expeditiously; hold perpetrators accountable if warranted; and work with partner agencies to counter foreign agents and deter crimes.” He emphasized that the Department of Justice “. . . stands for the principle that every American deserves the protection of the rule of law.” (Full speech here.)

Lisa Barsoomian, the wife of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and a past executive committee board member of the Armenian Bar Association, was also in attendance. Mr. Rosenstein delighted the audience as he recounted his life as an ABC – Armenian By Choice – and described his trip to Armenia in 1994 with the Armenian Bar Association, where he presented lectures to law students at Yerevan State University.

Photo Gallery here.

Read their remarks at the links in the captions below:

Robert H. Tembeckjian, Administrator and Counsel for the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Rod J. Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General.

 

 

 

 

 

15 Dec 2017

ArmenBar Launches Pro Bono Clinic in Artsakh, Armenia

On November 1, 2017, in the capital city of Stepanagert in the Artsakh Republic, the Armenian Bar Association in conjunction with Yerevan State University (YSU) and Artsakh State University (ArSU), teamed together to open the first of its kind, pro-bono legal clinic.

The establishment of the clinic came about through a memorandum of understanding developed by two-term Armenian Bar Chairman, Garo Ghazarian, Artsakh Human Rights Defender, Ombudsman, and Armenian Bar Association member, Ruben Melikyan, and representatives of YSU and ArSU, during Mr. Ghazarian’s recent trip to Artsakh in July of 2017.

“This pro-bono legal clinic brings much needed legal services to an underserved segment of Artsakh society.  We are thrilled that the Armenian Bar Association is a partner in this unique endeavor which seeks to better the lives of Artsakh citizens by promoting access to justice,” said Mr. Ghazarian in an interview following the grand opening of the event.

The clinic will primarily assist participants with legal questions in the field of administrative law, providing citizens with information to navigate through government, such as licensing, permits and regulatory compliance.   At its Mid-Year meeting in Washington, D.C., the Armenian Bar Association, upon the motion of Mr. Ghazarian, unanimously decided to approve both the provision of technical expertise as well as provide the monetary funds necessary  for the legal office to run efficiently.

At the ceremony celebrating the grand opening of the clinic,  Mr. Melikyan emphasized that, “This pro-bono clinic brings a constructive benefit to the citizens of Artsakh as well as providing an environment where Armenian law students and young lawyers can provide a vital public service to the community.”  The Armenian Bar Association will also be funding a six week internship program for Armenian law students from the United States to serve at the clinic in Artsakh.  “The pro-bono Legal Clinic and the Internship Program will be a win-win for all those involved, the citizen-participants, the law students and lawyers,” stated Lucy Varpetian, the Bar Association’s Chair of Student Affairs Committee.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to be of service to our brothers and sisters in the Republic of Artsakh,” stated Saro Kerkonian, Chairman of the Armenian Bar Association.

“The Armenian Bar Association will continue to strive to take every necessary step to defend the right of self-determination of the Armenians of Artsakh fulfilling the promise of a free and independent Armenian Nation.  Building a stronger Artsakh is a critical step towards realizing that sacred promise.  It is our duty to our forefathers and to future generations of Armenians,” concluded Armen Hovannisian, founding member and three-term Chairman of the Armenian Bar Association.