Tallahassee attorney Michael Ufferman will receive the Capital City Bar Presidents Council 2016 Richard W. Ervin Equal Justice Award, which recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the legal justice system in Florida through a career, event or court case.
The award is named for the late Richard W. Ervin, a former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice and state attorney general. It will be presented on May 3 during the Second Judicial Circuit’s 2016 Law Day celebration.
Tallahassee Women Lawyers, the Tallahassee Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers jointly nominated Ufferman because of his “substantial and significant pro bono work and dedication to ensuring that all persons have access to the courts.”
“Tallahassee Women Lawyers is honored to have been one of the organizations to nominate Michael for the award,” said TWL President Catherine B. Chapman. “Michael’s commitment to providing access to the courts to all is an inspiring example for all lawyers to emulate.”
“I am deeply honored to receive this award; Justice Ervin’s service to the citizens of Florida and his commitment and efforts to ensure equal justice for all are legendary,” said Ufferman. “I am humbled to have my name included within the list of the former recipients of this distinguished award, all of whom have served as role models for the local legal community.”
Ufferman is Florida Bar board certified in criminal appellate law. He has handled 15 – 20 state and federal pro bono cases in recent years, including cases from the First District Court of Appeal, Legal Services of North Florida, the Public Defender’s Office and representation of juveniles eligible for resentencing after the U.S. Supreme Court held that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life without parole.
As president the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Ufferman implemented an initiative for private counsel to represent juveniles pro bono, and trains lawyers to ensure representation for the children. Ufferman and his wife adopted two children from South Korea; Ufferman handles all Korean adoptions in the Second Judicial Circuit pro bono. He also assists Children’s Home Society with adoptions from other countries and represents individuals for LSNF in dependency matters at the appellate level. Ufferman has spent countless volunteer hours for the Innocence Project of Florida, mentoring inexperienced attorneys and providing pro bono assistance as co-counsel on several IPF cases.
Innocence Project of Florida Executive Director Seth Miller said, “Michael committed … time to our effort because he cares deeply about righting the miscarriages of justice that have befallen our indigent, marginalized clients.”
Florida Division of Administrative Hearings Judge Jessica Enciso Varn said, “His dedication to equal access to courts, to justice for criminal defendants without regard for his compensation, and to practicing law with the highest degree of professionalism make him a perfect recipient for this important award.”