Although it has been said that it is the spirit of law and not its form that are important, ADC-Michigan‘s 4th Annual Judges Night Reception proved that it is actually compassion, understanding and the willingness to listen that are truly the pulse of justice; qualities that the two awardees not only possess, but exemplify.
Tuesday night‘s event honored Hon. Victoria A. Roberts - United States District Court and Hon. Edward M. Thomas - Wayne County Circuit Court for their passion and unwavering dedication to justice for all. Judge Roberts and Judge Thomas have both transformed their every day courtroom roles into leadership positions that have made them true “Guardians of Justice.”
Judge Roberts‘ commendable work to give the disenfranchised equal footing within the legal system has been heralded as landmark as her steadfast commitment to justice for the poor and disadvantaged has afforded her many great honors in her career, including the Champion of Justice Award and the Roberts P. Hudson Award.
With great resolve and appreciation, Judge Roberts accepted her award, thanking her family and friends who were also in attendance. She saluted the Arab American community in the audience and praised ADC-Michigan for their efforts in the community and noted that it is this work that is a constant reminder of her tireless commitment to justice and civil rights.
The evening took a somber turn when the Amer family of Dearborn came to the podium to thank Judge Thomas for his courageous ruling against an injustice that had haunted them for nearly 20 years. As the audience stood to welcome Mrs. Rehab Amer, she began to speak softly while stifling her tears through the agonizing memories of the death of her son and the court battle that ensued. Through Judge Thomas‘ ruling that her son‘s death was in fact accidental, she and her husband have been absolved of any wrong doing. Although it may be too late to connect with the children that were taken by the state year‘s ago and although justice was delayed, it was certainly not denied when she entered Judge Thomas‘ courtroom.
“Thank you Judge Thomas for hearing the cries of my baby,” she said while weeping. “Thank you Judge Thomas for setting my family free.”
Mrs. Amer‘s tears, Judge Thomas said, were always met with his own each time she entered his courtroom, however, he never let her see him cry; instead he waited until after the proceedings. However at Judges Night, he took the stage, choking-up as he spoke of the Amer family and the honor of being awarded by ADC. His tears flowed freely as he revealed a side of the judicial system that is normally relegated to the judge‘s chambers. He spoke of his failed run for the Michigan Supreme Court and his inherent belief that “everything happens for a reason.” Had he been elected, Judge Thomas would not have presided over the case and the Amer family may not have been “set free.”
Through the kind words of Judge Thomas and Judge Roberts, ADC-Michigan‘s 4th Annual Judges Night Reception was a true celebration of the judicial systems heart and compassion, for “the only true principle for humanity is justice; and justice to the feeble is protection and kindness.”
By Rana Elmir
Director of Programs & Outreach