Justice Department’s Civil Division Honors Top Lawyers
By Elizabeth Murphy | December 7, 2012 3:43 pm

Awards seasons at the Justice Department continues.

The Civil Division hosted its ceremony honoring top lawyers this year on Thursday in the department’s Great Hall. It’s been a celebratory week for the division, which announced on Tuesday it had raked in record numbers in False Claims Act recoveries, hitting $5 billion for the fiscal year.

Civil Division leaders stand with Elizabeth J. Shapiro (center) as she receives her award. From left: Stuart Delery, Jeh Johnson, Elizabeth Shapiro, Tony West and Ian Gershengorn, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Federal Programs (Credit: DOJ)

Stuart Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General; and Tony West, acting Associate Attorney General, were on hand to give remarks, in addition to special guest and keynote speaker Jeh Johnson, the outgoing general counsel at the Defense Department. Johnson made headlines of his own Thursday, announcing he is stepping down from his position with Defense at the end of the year.

But at the ceremony, Elizabeth “Betsy” Shapiro went home with the year’s top honor, the Stanley D. Rose Memorial Award, for making an “outstanding contribution of long-term impact,” to the division. She’s an information expert, having a number of cases related to the “explosion in [Freedom of Information Act] litigation that has overlapped with her tenure,” as they related to questions of national security, the award description states. For more than 20 years she has served as a lawyer in the division’s Federal Programs Branch and for the past decade has headed the Government Information Area.

In her capacity, she has advised officials in the executive branch on how to handle questions of information disclosure. She has recently worked on headline-grabbing information cases, including the disclosure of WikiLeaks documents, access to White House visitor logs, requests to release photographs from the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden and requests for President Richard Nixon’s grand jury testimony. In the past year, she handled a FOIA challenge related to the use of drones to target suspected terrorists abroad.

Also honored were Barbara Biddle, a member of the division’s Appellate Staff, and Jeanne Davidson, a lawyer in the National Courts Section of the Commercial Litigation Branch. They both received the Michael F. Hertz Memorial Award, which is named for the late longtime division leader who died of cancer in May.

In addition, the following were given the Assistant Attorney General’s Career Service Award: Vincent Garvey and Sheila Lieber, both of the Federal Programs Branch; Linda Liner, of the Office of Planning, Budget and Evaluation in the Office of Management Programs; and Phyllis Pyles, of the Federal Torts Claims Act Section of the Torts Branch.

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