Thomas A. Mesereau Cup

Each year the LCA awards the Thomas A. Mesereau Cup to a deserving lawyer, judge or scholar practicing in the area of criminal law.  The award recognizes excellence and commitment at the highest level.  Candidates are generally leaders in the legal profession who seek justice for or preside over individuals within the court system whose rights and freedoms depend on the selfless and courageous efforts of committed professionals.  The award honors visionaries who have created constituencies and inspired, mobilized and/or unified others in seeking equity and equality within the system and in furtherance of the common good.  Recipients are those whose leadership has had national or international impact, who practice the art of advocacy at a preeminent standing and who are committed to those they represent in the pursuits to which they are assigned.

The award is named after Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr., of the Mesereau Law Group, in Los Angeles, California.  Previously named by Barbara Walters as “One of the Ten Most Fascinating People of the Year” for his trial excellence and commitment to representing the underprivileged, Mr. Mesereau is a trial lawyer who specializes in the defense of white-collar criminal cases, corporate and individual; the defense of physicians and health care practitioners before the California Medical Board and other administrative entities, and violent and non-white-collar crimes.  In the most-watched trial in legal history, Mr. Mesereau obtained acquittal of the late music legend Michael Jackson on all fourteen charges brought against him. Named “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the National Trial Lawyers in January, 2016, where he was lauded for three consecutive white-collar jury victories for the defense in federal court, Mr. Mesereau was recognized for lifetime achievement and current successes. In June, 2016, he added a fourth consecutive federal court white-collar jury victory in New Jersey. Known for high profile cases and cutting edge strategies throughout his career, during his defense of actor Robert Blake on charges of murdering his wife, Mr. Mesereau became the only criminal defense attorney to obtain bail in a murder with special circumstances case over prosecution objection in California history. For almost forty years, Mr. Mesereau has committed substantial time on behalf of the underprivileged and has been recognized time and again by bar and legal associations for such efforts. For almost twenty years, he has reached beyond Southern California, the location of the Mesereau Free Legal Clinic, which not only provides legal services but assists local organizations and churches in drug recovery and youth counseling, and performed pro bono work in the Deep South, defending on average one capital murder case a year.  Mr. Mesereau’s client, Wesley Quick, who spent 6 years on Alabama’s death row before Tom acquitted him on all counts in a high profile jury trial, is listed in the National Registry of Exonerations of the Northwestern and University of Michigan Law Schools.  Tom Mesereau was the first lawyer to use an eyewitness identification expert in a capital murder trial in Alabama.  His client, a homeless black man, was acquitted of murdering a white woman.  A frequent national speaker, Mr. Mesereau has spoken at venues across America, including the Cleveland City Club, whose speakers have also included Presidents William J. Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Bishop Desmond TuTu.

“It is incumbent upon our profession to pursue justice and equity within our system, at every opportunity, for those in society for whom justice has become otherwise unachievable. It is not just our duty, but also our honor.”  Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr.

The LCA takes great pride in presenting the Thomas A. Mesereau Cup annually. Past award recipients have included the following:


Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants

On June 13, 2014, the Thomas A. Mesereau Cup was presented to Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants at a dinner held at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The work of Chief Justice Gants embodies the Mesereau Cup. His background includes earning an AB in Economics, summa cum laude, from Harvard College in 1976, a diploma in Criminology from Cambridge University in 1977, and a JD, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where he served on the Harvard Law Review, in 1980. Thereafter, he clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Eugene H. Nickerson of the Eastern District of New York for one year and worked as a Special Assistant to FBI Director William H. Webster from 1981 to 1983, an Assistant U.S. Attorney (and Chief of the Public Corruption Division) at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston from 1983 to 1991, and a criminal defense attorney and partner at Palmer & Dodge LLP until 1997, when he was appointed Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court. While on the Superior Court, he taught The Government Lawyer: White Collar Criminal Prosecution and Defense at Harvard Law School. He also worked as an adjunct professor at Northeastern University School of Law and New England School of Law. In 2009, he became Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and he was appointed Chief Justice of that court in 2014.

As a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and judge, Chief Justice Gants has consistently performed exemplary work in the area of criminal law. Deeply committed to the fair and timely administration of justice, he has applied his impressive intellect and seasoned judgment to resolving legal problems in a manner that furthers both the public interest and the public’s understanding of criminal law and the legal process. “Expanding to the judiciary recognition for what this award stands for is both timely and salient,” said Tom Mesereau, the award’s creator, upon the selection of Chief Justice Gants. “As lawyers we strive to achieve justice on behalf of those affected. To have genuine judicial neutrality and a commitment to excellence in pursuit of justice is the standard of which our forefathers conceived. Chief Justice Ralph Gants is an excellent model of someone adhering to this standard.”


Bryan A. Stevenson

The Litigation Counsel of America’s 2013 Thomas A. Mesereau Cup was awarded to Bryan A. Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. Mr. Stevenson has won national acclaim for his work challenging biases against the poor and people of color in the criminal justice system and he has developed community-based reform litigation aimed at improving the administration of criminal justice.

Mr. Stevenson earned his Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School and is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has won the American Bar Association’s Wisdom Award for public service, the ACLU’s National Medal of Liberty, a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award, the Reebok Human Rights Award, the Thurgood Marshall Medal of Justice, the Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award, the Olof Palme Prize, Stanford Law School’s National Public Service Award, and the 2009 Gruber Prize for Justice. In 2010, the NAACP honored Stevenson by awarding him the William Robert Ming Advocacy Award for the spirit of financial and personal sacrifice displayed in his legal work.

The Mesereau Cup was accepted on Mr. Stevenson’s behalf by his friend and LCA Fellow, The Honorable J. Thomas Marten (United States District Judge, District of Kansas) at the 2013 LCA Spring Conference & Induction of Fellows in Newport Beach, California.


Dennis G. Terez

On May 10, 2012, at the Four Seasons Resort in Santa Barbara, California, Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr., presented Ohio Fellow Dennis G. Terez, the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Ohio, with the first annual Thomas A. Mesereau Cup at the Litigation Counsel of America’s 2012 Spring Conference & Induction of Fellows.

Mr. Terez received his B.S. in Foreign Service (summa cum laude) from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, where he was class valedictorian.  He earned his J.D. (magna cum laude) from the University of Michigan Law School.  Along with serving as the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Ohio, Mr. Terez teaches on the adjunct faculty of Case Western Reserve University School of Law (“Criminal Pretrial Practice”) and the University of Michigan Law School (“Federal Appellate Litigation Clinic”).

As a former partner at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, LLP, Mr. Terez specialized in business litigation and intellectual property.  He is co-author of Baldwin’s Ohio Civil Practice and Baldwin’s Ohio Statutory Charges.  He has published numerous articles covering all aspects of criminal and civil law and trial practice.

Mr. Terez has been recognized for his brilliant management skills and leadership at the Federal Public Defender’s Office.  One analyst has labeled this office as the “best run law firm in Cleveland.”  Mr. Terez has brought enormous prestige and recognition to his office and recently instituted a program to encourage former clients to develop their artistic skills.  These works of art are prominently displayed at the Federal Public Defender’s Office.  Mr. Terez has demonstrated great skill and proficiency both in and outside the courtroom.


Selection Committee

Jeffrey L. Bornstein
Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP
San Francisco, California

Eric R. Breslin
Duane Morris LLP
Newark, New Jersey

Carol Elder Bruce
Law Office of Carol Elder Bruce, PLLC
Washington, District of Columbia

Marc X. Carlos
Marc Carlos Law, APC
San Diego, California

Bruce L. Castor, Jr.
van der Veen, Hartshorn, and Levin
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Thomas W. Cranmer
Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C.
Troy, Michigan

Jim Darnell
Jim Darnell, Attorney at Law
El Paso, Texas

The Honorable Karen F. Green
Massachusetts Superior Court
Boston, Massachusetts

The Honorable Jim M. Greenlee
Mississippi Court of Appeals
Jackson, Mississippi

W. Warren Hamel
Venable LLP
Baltimore, Maryland

The Honorable Craig L. Henry
Bowie County Court at Law
New Boston, Texas

Joel Hirschhorn
GrayRobinson, P.A.
Coral Gables, Florida

Michael HuYoung
Barnes & Diehl, P.C.
Richmond, Virginia

Faisal B. Joseph (Fellow Emeritus)
Lerners LLP
London, Ontario

Jennifer L. Keller
Keller/Anderle LLP
Irvine, California

Michael W. McCrum
McCrum Law Office
San Antonio, Texas

Patrick J. McLain
Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC
Dallas, Texas

Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr.
Mesereau Law Group, APC
Los Angeles, California

Daniel E. Monnat
Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered
Wichita, Kansas

Pamela J. Naughton
DLA Piper
San Diego, California

William L. Osterhoudt
Osterhoudt Law Group
San Francisco, California

Stanley J. Reed
Lerch, Early & Brewer
Bethesda, Maryland

Robert J. Ridge
Clark Hill PLC
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Joseph D. Rotella
Joseph D. Rotella, Esq.
Newark, New Jersey

George A. Stamboulidis
Baker & Hostetler LLP
New York, New York

John H. Trevena
Trevena | James
Largo, Florida

Theresa Van Vliet
Genovese, Joblove & Battista, P.A.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

M. Bradley Wishek
Rothschild Wishek & Sands LLP
Sacramento, California

James R. Wyrsch
Wyrsch Hobbs & Mirakian
Kansas City, Missouri

Eric L. Yaffe
Lathrop GPM
Washington, District of Columbia

Susan C. Yu
Los Angeles, California



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