DETROIT — The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce (LACC) held its second annual Salute to Justice dinner banquet honoring distinguished Judges of Lebanese origin on Thursday, March 6, 2008 in Michigan.
More than 200 guests attended the event from Washington, Ohio, Lansing, Ann Arbor and Windsor, Canada in addition to the tri-county area of southeast Michigan. The event has expanded from its inaugural year, during which only Lebanese American judges were honored, to include judges of Middle Eastern descent from beyond Metro Detroit’s borders.
“From Los Angeles to New York, judges serve a fundamental role in communities across America,” said John Akouri, Chamber chairman and CEO. “With one of the earliest law schools known to man having been in Beirut, law continues to be considered a sacred profession within the Lebanese American community. And Michigan proudly leads the nation in judges of Lebanese and Middle Eastern ancestry currently serving on the bench. Recognizing the Metro Detroit area’s rich cultural heritage, the Chamber was pleased to again recognize their work and celebrate their achievements.”
The distinguished judges honored this year included U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh, Sr.; U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Mona K. Majzoub; U.S. Administrative Law Judge Alfred Morad (ret); Michigan Appellate Court Chief Judge Henry W. Saad; Oakland County Probate Judge Linda Saoud Hallmark; Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David J. Allen; Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Annette J. Berry; Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Charlene Mekled Elder; Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph J. Farah; Dearborn Heights District Court Judge David Turfe; Redford District Court Chief Judge Karen Khalil Bouzas; and Rochester Hills District Court Judge Lisa L. Asadoorian.
Special guests in attendance were Bachir Tawk, acting consul general of Lebanon to the Detroit Diplomatic Consulate; Kenneth Essad, Esq., president of the Arab American Bar Association; Carrie Ryckman, representative of State Attorney General Mike Cox; Janet Welch, executive director of the State Bar of Michigan and Ed Pappas, Esq., the president-elect; Wayne State University Vice President Harvey Hollins, III; Judges Denise Langford Morris, Edward Ewell & Martha Anderson; Rev. Father Edward Hanna and Imam Mohamad Mardini, along with many business and civic leaders.
Guests were treated upon arrival to the contemporary jazz stylings of renowned guitarist Eric Watson. At the cocktail reception patrons nibbled on garden fresh taboulleh and savory hommus appetizers in the pre-function area, while surrounded by an exclusive exhibit of new work by Lebanese American artist Stephen Deeb. One piece in particular mesmerized the attendees: “The Lady of Lebanon,” a wall-sized mural of the immense immaculate statue in Harissa, Lebanon, which panoramically overlooks the bay of Jounieh.
Opening the program with the singing of the U.S. national anthem was The Northern Lights Ensemble from the North Farmington High School choir. Featured speakers during the program included Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, Clifford Taylor, who delivered the keynote address. Offering remarks was FOX News Legal Analyst Charlie Langton, and presenting the distinguished judges was the ABC News affiliate WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Action News anchor Heather Catallo. Lebanese Satellite Network ART covered the event for a later global broadcast.
A special surprise closed the evening’s program. The first-ever Judge George Caram Steeh, Sr. Award for Distinguished Public Service was presented to his son Judge George Caram Steeh, Jr. This will now be an annual award presented each year to an individual of Lebanese origin who is either on the bench, a court room professional, an attorney or legal professional, elected or appointed official, or member of academia or law enforcement.
Guests dined on a veritable buffet of Lebanese cuisine that included a Mediterranean spring salad, hearth oven baked pita bread, and classic marinated chicken kabob paired with grilled shish kafta served over a bed of seasoned saffron yellow rice. Following the dinner and program, guests made their way to the Afterglow in the East Room. Honorees, guests and patrons were treated to American and Arabic entertainment, traditional line dancing, and sweet Lebanese baklava to close out the evening.