On Wednesday, September 15, 2010, Judge Sophia H. Hall received the Justice John Paul Stevens Award from the Chicago Bar Association. The award is given to persons “who, like Justice Stevens, exemplify the highest personal integrity and devotion to public service.” The President of the CBA, Terry Mascherin, introduced her and particularly recounted Judge Hall’s work on behalf of the Juvenile Court and children over these years. The award was given at the Gala Dinner Celebration of Justice Stevens retirement from the United States Supreme Court. The event was held in the Grand Ballroom at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, formerly the Stevens Hotel, that had previously been owned by Justice Stevens’ family.
Judge Hall commented that Judge Wayne Anderson (Ret.), who she served with in the Circuit Court of Cook County and who later was appointed to the United States District Court bench, also received the award.
In her remarks Judge Hall said:
I would like to thank the Chicago Bar Association and the Awards Committee for this wonderful honor. I am overwhelmed to receive this award named after Justice Stevens. Particularly so on this very special evening. I am delighted to share it with my former colleague on the state trial bench, Judge Wayne Anderson, who did leave us to go to the federal district court. And now he has retired from the bench.
Justice Stevens, we all express our appreciation for your 35 years of dedicated service on the U. S. Supreme Court. You have served through extraordinary changes in our country. Now you are going through a personal change. The upside is that you now have the opportunity to make new arrangements of your time, in order to engage in new adventures and meet new challenges.
I also want to express my appreciation to you for cultivating and maintaining your Chicago roots through these yearly awards events in your honor. You give us - the Chicago legal community of lawyers, judges, and those with whom we work - the opportunity to honor our service to the legal system.
We are the heart and soul of the third branch of government. We, together, make the ideal of justice, a living, breathing reality for those who come to us.
Injustice has been felt by all of us at some time during our lives. As an African American, growing up in the 50s on the south side of Chicago, I knew the injustice, the unfairness, of the imposed limitations which had to be overcome. These experiences have driven me in the practice of law, on the bench, and in the professional organizations in which I have worked.
I have, with others, focused on efforts to combat the injustice of racism, gender bias, bias against gays and lesbians, and other stereotypes that belittle those who are stereotyped. At the core of stereotyping and the bias that rears from it, is the lack of real knowledge about the other who is different from us. Knowledge, however, can be obtained through respectful and passionate conversations – conversations that are open. Conversations, where one does not fear that their truth will be met with derision and epithets.
I have embraced restorative justice practices as a means to create the safe spaces necessary to encourage heartfelt conversations. The activities of the Resource Section of the Juvenile Court, promote creating these spaces, thanks to the continued support of Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans.
I leave you with a familiar quote from Margaret Meade that has inspired me in the past. I hear it now with new insight, as I have experienced the difficulty of, yet the extraordinary power in, having diverse people joining together as a group to solve their common challenges.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed and diverse citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
In addition to her many duties, Judge Sophia H. Hall is an active member of the board of trustees of The National Judicial College.