Award of Special Merit

Established in 1988, the Award of Special Merit is  presented by the Board of Governors to members of the State Bar of Arizona who have made significant contributions to the furtherance of public understanding of the legal system, the administration of justice,  and confidence in the legal profession.   

2020 Recipients

Stacy Butler is the Director of the i4J Program and has two decades of experience in community advocacy and expanding the reach of civil legal services for under-represented populations. Her research focuses on the application of human-centered design and innovation to social justice issues including eviction, debt collection, domestic violence, regulatory reform, and online dispute resolution. Prior to launching the i4J Program, she worked in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona and served as an adjunct professor at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. In 2017, Butler launched Step Up to Justice, a pro bono civil legal center that has delivered over $4.5 million in free civil legal services to low-income families. Butler earned a B.A. from Trinity University and a J.D. from the University of Arizona.
Denice R. Shepherd has been practicing in the areas of civil litigation, probates, guardianships, conservatorships and elder law since 1984.

In 2016, she received the William H. Morris Legal Services Foundation Award for pro bono work.  In 2012, Shepherd received the 2012 Eleanor ter Horst Probate award for contributions to probate law.  Shepherd received the 2011 Arizona Supreme Court Pro Bono Attorney Award. She received the Southern Arizona Legal Aid 2010 Volunteer Lawyer of the Year Award.

In 2016, she joined the Board of Directors for Step-Up to Justice, a pro-bono organization providing legal services to the poor. She was named Treasurer of the Board and still holds that position.

Shepherd was named the Arizona Fiduciary Association’s member of the year for 2011 and 2012 and won the National Guardianship Association’s Affiliate Award in 2010.

Shepherd served as a Judge Pro Tempore for various lower courts for 16 years.

She has served on the Reid Park Zoological Society Board of Directors since 2005. In 2007 and 2008 she was President of the Board and currently holds the position of Board Emeritus She is a member of the Board’s finance committee and frequently serves as legal counsel to the Board.


Previous Recipients

The award has been presented to:

1988     Hon. Frank X. Gordon, Jr
1989 Not awarded
1990 Hon. L. Ray Haire
1991 Prof. Charles M. Smith
Hon. Morris K. Udall
1992 Not awarded
1993 Mark I. Harrison
Charles T. Stevens
1994 Hon. Nikki A. Chayet
Patricia A. Sallen
John M. Schlosser
1995 E. Calvin Fuchs II
Duke Nordlinger Stern
1996 Christopher Johns
1997 Michael M. Grant
1998 Not awarded
1999 Hon. Norman S. Fenton
2000 Sen. Marc L. Spitzer
Hon. Thomas A. Zlaket
2001 Timothy M. Hogan
Norman L. Miller
2002 Daniel Cracchiolo
2003 Walter Cheifetz
2004 Hon. Edward E. Davis (posthumously)
2005 Frances L. Johansen
2006 Anthony W. Clark
Susan R. Agrillo
Norma L. Classen
2007 Theodore Campagnolo
Hon. Gary E. Donahoe
2008 Larry C. McVey
Sidney T. Marable (posthumously)
2009 John W. Rogers
2010 Gary R. Stickell
Alex E. Navidad
2011 Hon. Daniel A. Barker
James W. Richardson
2012 Hon. Ann A. Scott Timmer
Stephen Weiss
2013 Mark E. Meltzer
2014 William W. Owsley
2015 David B. Rosenbaum
2016 Gary M. Kula
2017 Robert L. Gottsfield
2018 Hon. Michael P. Pollard
2019 Hon. Dan R. Slayton
2020 Stacy Rupprecht Butler
Denice R. Shepherd
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