Price-Williams, Rosa, Ponzoli, and Stone receive Bar awards
A Board of Governors member, a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, the retired Miami-Dade County attorney, and the executive director of the Broward County Bar Association have been presented with special Bar awards for various services to the legal profession.
Outgoing President Dori Foster-Morales presented the awards during the June 11 General Assembly at the Bar’s Annual Convention in Orlando at a combined live/online event.
Ron Ponzoli received the Tony Boggs Award for Excellence in Discipline, Mitchell Stone received the G. Kirk Haas Humanitarian Award, Braulio Rosa received the Marshall R. Cassedy, Sr., Award for extraordinary bar leadership, and Abigail Price-Williams received the Claude Pepper Outstanding Government Lawyer Award.
Serving on and chairing the board’s Disciplinary Procedure and Disciplinary Review committees for the past eight years, Ponzoli has helped improve the pretrial handling, prosecution, and appeals in discipline cases.
“Ron channeled his energies and motivated these committees to study, formulate, and oversee the rules of substance, and proper procedures for handling grievance matters,” Foster-Morales said. “His knowledge of the process and attention to detail resulted in changes to improve fairness and consistency in implementing the core function of our Bar.”
Ponzoli has also been a strong supporter of the Bar’s health and wellness efforts, she said, and added, “I have to say, if there was a Ms. Congeniality award, Ron would have won that one too. Many folks know that being on the Board of Governors allows you to meet and become friends with folks you would have never had contact with — but who make you a better person — for sure Ron is one of those people for me.”
The Kirk Haas Award is named for the late Miami lawyer who was recognized not only for his legal skill but his humanity and ethics. The recipient selects a Florida law school and a scholarship is awarded there to a student “who demonstrates an exceptionally high degree of integrity, ethics, professionalism, and a concern for others.”
In selecting Stone, Foster-Morales noted he has been president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Jacksonville Bar Association Criminal Law Section, and the Jacksonville Beaches Bar Association. He also supports legal aid programs and has provided pro bono assistance.
“He is a staunch advocate for the criminal justice system as evidenced by his request to the governor to prioritize everyone in the criminal justice system — judges, court staff, state attorneys, public defenders, private attorneys and defendants, jurors, corrections staff, and inmates — to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to safely reopen courtrooms for jury trials,” Foster-Morales said. “I have known Mitch for many years and in addition to being a phenomenal servant leader, he is a dedicated family man to his wife, Chris, his two daughters, Hannah and Sarah, and his parents, Bev and Bud, and simply an all-around wonderful person.”
Rosa has been executive director of the Broward County Bar Association since 2013 and in the past year took the lead in organizing several voluntary bar associations to provide services to their members to help them cope with COVID-19 issues, including the challenges of remote practices and offering social interactions.
“Recognizing that other bar associations were struggling to keep up with what their members needed, he established an innovative partnership so that relevant educational programs could be jointly co-hosted by multiple voluntary bars with a fee-share arrangement to help maintain the financial stability of all of the organizations,” Foster-Morales said. “Braulio generously shares his experience and insights with other executive directors and bar leaders and frequently presents sessions at the Bar Leaders Conferences. He also is a volunteer on The Florida Bar’s Voluntary Bar Liaison and Technology committees.”
She said Rosa was praised by 17th Circuit Chief Judge Jack Tuter, one of several people who nominated him for the award as “truly one of a kind — friendly, always willing to help in any way.… In my opinion, his most important accomplishment has been to improve the image and work of attorneys, judges, and support personnel in our circuit.”
Price-Williams served in the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office for three decades, becoming the county attorney in 2015 until her recent retirement.
Besides that work, she has represented abused and abandoned children as a guardian ad litem attorney and lay volunteer.
“Ms. Price-Williams’ character and accomplishments exemplify the highest ideals of government service and her commitment to the public interest is something that we should all strive for as practicing attorneys,” Foster-Morales said.