By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma Bar Association will host its annual Diversity Committee Awards Dinner on Thursday, October 17, from 6 – 8 p.m. The event will be held in the Great Room of the Oklahoma Judicial Center, 2100 N. Lincoln Boulevard in Oklahoma City.
Jim Roth, Dean of the Oklahoma City University School of Law, will be the keynote speaker. Roth, who earned his law degree from the OCU School of Law, will speak on “An Emphasis on Inclusion: Why Diversity Should Not Stand Alone.”
Six individuals and organizations will be honored at the event with the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Award, which recognizes the effort of recipients who demonstrate that diversity and inclusion matters in Oklahoma.
Individuals receiving awards are Judge Philippa C. James, judge for the Oklahoma City Municipal Court System; Ruseal E. Brewer, assistant attorney general with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office; Tiece I. Dempsey, Criminal Justice Act resource counsel for the Office of the Federal Public Defender in the Western District of Oklahoma; and Oklahoma City attorney Sheryl S. Sullivan.
Judge James has been instrumental in revising the Oklahoma City Municipal Court System by creating a “more readily available procedural process to better comply with the law.” This process expansion provides an opportunity for a judicial hearing for all persons alleging their inability to pay their fines, fees and court costs. It also allows the court to help those in extreme need. Judge James presides over many of the Rule 8-Indigency hearings. In April, May and June 2019, the Rule 8-Indigency hearings resulted in 3,678 cases being presented by impoverished defendants and $882,486 in fines and court costs being suspended.
Ruseal Brewer is assigned to the Civil Rights Unit with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office. Prior to joining the AG’s office, she worked as an assistant general counsel with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture. Brewer is also a judge advocate serving as a defense counsel for the 245th Trial Defense Services team. She earned her Bachelor of Science in chemical science from Xavier University in Cincinnati and received her J.D. from the OCU School of Law.
As the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) resource counsel, Tiece Dempsey appoints and assists the Federal Public Defender’s Office and CJA (court-appointed) attorneys in their representation of indigent defendants. Dempsey worked as a policy analyst with the Oklahoma Policy Institute before accepting a judicial law clerk position with Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, former chief and senior judge of the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Oklahoma. Dempsey earned a B.S. in general business from OSU, a master’s in health administration from the OU Health Sciences Center, and graduated from the OCU School of Law in 2012.
Sheryl Sullivan’s 40+ year Oklahoma City practice has focused on dissolution of marriage, guardianship, probate and estate planning matters. She has served as a mediator and a collaborative law practitioner. Sullivan is active in the OBA Family Law Section and Oklahoma County Bar Association (OCBA), OCBA Lawyers Against Domestic Abuse and Oklahoma Academy of Collaborative Professionals. A co-founder of the Women’s Interfaith Group in Central Oklahoma, Sullivan is secretary of the Interfaith Alliance Foundation of Oklahoma and serves on the Advisory Board of the Dialogue Institute Oklahoma City. She is a graduate of Vassar College and the OU College of Law.
Organizations to be honored that evening are Ogletree Deakins, an Oklahoma City labor and employment law firm with 56 offices throughout North America and Europe, and Save Black Boys OKC, a nonprofit program which was created to raise awareness about the state of black children in the Oklahoma City area.
Ogletree Deakins currently has nine attorneys in its Oklahoma City office. The firm’s professional development incorporate their approach to diversity of gender, learning style, race, background, thought, which contribute to an inclusive environment. Through their Diversity and Inclusion Practice Group, Ogletree provides a range of services from advice and counsel to legal compliance work and engagement surveys.
Save Black Boys (SBB) OKC offers career/college preparation, group counseling, sex education, single mother awareness readiness training, gang intervention/prevention and community service. The organization’s goal is to restore black boys in the community and help them find and focus on their greatness.
“Our award recipients embody the spirit of Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, who as the first African-American admitted to the OU College of Law, was a trailblazer for minorities in the legal profession,” said Diversity Committee Chair Telana McCullough of Oklahoma City. “She inspired change, and our award winners are continuing her legacy.”
The 18,000-member Oklahoma Bar Association, headquartered in Oklahoma City, was created by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to advance the administration of justice and to foster and maintain learning, integrity, competence, public service and high standards of conduct among Oklahoma’s legal community.
Tickets for the dinner are $40 per person. Registration is available online or by calling 405-416-7029.