Tom Karas Criminal Justice Award

Established in March 2004 (language amended March 2006), this award recognizes that criminal defense practitioner who has worked tirelessly to advance the principles of criminal justice by representing clients or the public with integrity, fairness, tenacity, creativity, brilliance and, above all, professionalism.

2023 Recipient

Margarita Silva, a partner at Silva & Fontes, focuses on immigration and criminal defense. Ms. Silva serves on the Board of Directors for Valle del Sol, 2022 – current and the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, 2011 – 2016, 2023; Member: American Bar Association (Fellow), American Immigration Lawyers Association, National Immigration Project and the State Bar of Arizona Immigration Section. Ms. Silva previously served as a judge pro tempore in the Guadalupe Municipal Court and was an assistant public defender in Maricopa County. She is frequently invited to present on the topic of immigration and the intersection of immigration and criminal defense to attorneys, professional organizations and community groups.

Former member: SBA Delegate, ABA House of Delegates, 2008 – 2020; St. Joseph’s Hospital/Medical Center Community Board 2012 – 2021; SBA’s Batson Challenge Jury Selection Work Group, 2021; Board of Directors, Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association (14 years, 2006 President); Criminal Justice Act Panel Review Committee, 2010 - 2017; City of Phoenix Judicial Selection Advisory Board, 2007-2014 (Chair, 2010 and 2014); Arizona Supreme Court Commission on Minorities in the Judiciary 2001-2011; Magistrate Appointment/Re-Appointment Committee, District of Arizona, 2006-2009; and various State Bar Committees and Councils.

Juris Doctor, ASU 1995; B.S., University of Arizona 1992.

Previous Recipients

The award has been presented to:

2004     Fredric F. Kay
2005 Robert J. Hirsh
2006 Donna Lee Elm
2007 Michael B. Scott (posthumously)
2008 Mark Budoff (posthumously)
Robert J. Hooker (posthumously)
2009 Bruce S. Griffen
2010 Michael D. Kimerer
2011 Michael L. Piccarreta
2012 Darrow K. Soll (posthumously)
2013 Larry A. Hammond
2014 Stanton Bloom
2015 Tom Henze
2016 John M. Sears
2017 Stephen M. Weiss
2018 Walter B. Nash, III
Hon. David G. Derickson
2019 Dwane M. Cates
Thomas N. Crowe
2020 Richard L. Lougee, Jr.
Randall S. Papetti
2021 Richard D. Coffinger
2022 Lori Voepel
2023 Margarita Silva
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