OCDLA Annual Awards

The 2024 eligibility period for the awards(Darrow & Marshall) is July 1, 2023 to May 31, 2024. All other awards have no time limitations.

You do not have to be a member of the OCDLA to nominate someone and the nominee does not have to a member of the OCDLA

The Clarence Darrow Award

Clarence Darrow was born in Ohio in 1857. After being admitted to the bar in 1878, he became a small-town lawyer for nine years.

During WWI he defended anti-war activists and was critical of The Espionage Act that was used to stifle anti-war activities. You need only mention the names of his famous cases to realize his impact on criminal defense; the Scopes Monkey Trial, the Scottsboro 9 and the Leopold-Loeb Murder Trials. A 1936 FBI memo to Clyde Tolson, aide-de-camp to J. Edgar Hoover, gave Mr. Hoover some quotes that Clarence Darrow had made in an article entitled Attorney for the Defendant. It was suggested that Mr. Hoover could use these quotes in speeches to point out how unscrupulous criminal lawyers stimulate disrespect for law and influence crime conditions.

The award recognizes the efforts of an individual who has, during the year, exemplified the zealous criminal defense advocacy that befits the namesake of the award “Clarence Darrow”. It is in the deeds and spirit of Clarence Darrow that this award is given each year for the zealous criminal defense advocacy by an individual attorney. The only qualification requirement is that the event(s) upon which the nomination is based must have taken place during the current year.

The Thurgood Marshall Appellate Advocacy Award

Thurgood Marshall, the grandson of a slave, was born in 1908 in Maryland . In 1930, he was denied admission to the University of Maryland Law School due to the fact that he was black. This event was to direct his future professional life.

In 1934, he began his association with the NAACP and dismantled school segregation in his 1954 victory of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka . He later desegregated graduate schools with his victory in McLaurin vs. Oklahoma State Regents. As a Justice for the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, he made 112 rulings that were all upheld before the United States Supreme Court. As Solicitor General for the United States , he won 14 of 19 cases argued before the United States Supreme Court. In 1967, Thurgood Marshall was the first African American appointed to the United States Supreme Court. He was often the lone voice of dissent against the death penalty and always spoke for voiceless Americans in his opinions. He died in 1993.

The Marshall Award recognizes outstanding appellate advocacy in the spirit and in the footsteps of the great attorney, judge and justice.

The Lord Thomas Erskine Award

Lord Erskine was a Scotsman, the third son of the 10th Earl of Buchan, educated at Edinburgh and Cambridge and called to the bar in 1778. He was a strong advocate and defender of popular liberties and constitutional rights. His defense of Thomas Paine cost him his post of attorney general to the Prince of Wales.

The award is given to honor a member of the criminal defense bar who has over the years steadfastly placed the preservation of personal liberties over his or her own personal gain or reputation. The award is a cumulative year award and is not limited to any particular activities in any given year.

Jack Dempsey Pointer Champion For Justice Award

Jack was the inspiration or driving force for many of the accomplishments of OCDLA including but not imited to the list serve and Little Green Book.

This award is available to be presented annually to a person who has made significant efforts and promoted criminal justice through their professional or personal endeavors. This recipient need not be a member of OCDLA nor a defense attorney. Judges, prosecutors and persons who are not engaged in the legal profession are eligible for this award. The primary criteria is that the person has dedicated significant efforts to the accomplishment of promoting and assisting in the betterment of criminal justice in the state of Oklahoma.

Nominations Info

The deadline for the 2024 Awards Nominations is May 31 @ 5pm.

Please send nominations to:

PO Box 2272
Oklahoma City, OK 73101

or fax: 405-212-5024
or bdp@for-the-defense.com

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