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Santa Clara County Counsel’s Office Honored by American Bar Association for Extraordinary Public Service

SAN FRANCISCO (August 12, 2019) — The Santa Clara County Counsel’s Office recently received the American Bar Association’s (ABA) prestigious Hodson Award. Awarded to one office nationwide each year, the Hodson Award recognizes outstanding performance and extraordinary service by a government or public-sector law office. The County Counsel’s Office also accepted an official commendation from the County’s Board of Supervisors for representing public service at its finest, working to improve people’s lives, and ensuring the County’s critical safety-net services are available to all County residents.

The Office’s commitment to excellence and innovative approach to its work stands out among the nation’s public law offices. The County’s lawyers have worked to provide critical assistance to address the County’s housing crisis, prevent federal funding cuts to “sanctuary jurisdictions,” preserve access to healthcare and essential public services, challenge federal efforts to repeal net neutrality protections and undermine the 2020 census, and protect consumers, immigrants, and vulnerable residents. The County Counsel’s Office is responsible for all civil litigation involving the County and its officers, and serves as legal counsel to the County, its Board of Supervisors and elected officials, every County department and agency, and the County’s boards and commissions. Its work is guided by a simple goal: to use the power and perspective of local government to promote economic and social justice for County residents and provide the Board and County with exceptional legal support in service of high-qualify, effective local governance.

“I am thrilled that the County Counsel’s Office is being recognized as a nationwide leader in developing innovative legal solutions to some of our community’s greatest challenges—from protecting immigrants’ rights and access to health care to holding corporations accountable for their role in creating the lead paint and opioid public health crises. Our attorneys demonstrate their commitment to effective public service each and every day, and we are proud to be a model of excellence in public lawyering,” said Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams.

Just last month, the County of Santa Clara and other California cities and counties secured a landmark settlement from lead paint manufacturers, who for decades knowingly marketed and sold hazardous paint to American homeowners. The settlement will provide hundreds of millions of dollars to Californian families for lead mitigation in their homes and put to rest a lawsuit the County has been leading for nearly two decades.

In June, the County stood with health care providers and LGBTQ advocacy groups in successfully forcing the Trump administration to delay implementation of a proposed rule allowing health care professionals to deny care to those they religiously or morally disagree with. And earlier this year, the County argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in a case against the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality repeal, arguing that net neutrality is critical to ensuring fair and equal access to county health and safety services that increasingly rely on the internet. 

Williams accepted the Hodson Award at the ABA’s annual awards ceremony earlier this month. Each year the ABA gives the award to one government or public sector law office (e.g., legal aid bureaus, public defender offices, and other legal organizations funded by the Legal Services Corporation) at the federal, state, or local levels. 

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About the Santa Clara County Counsel’s Office

The Office of the County Counsel serves as legal counsel to the County, its Board of Supervisors and elected officials, every County department and agency, and the County’s boards and commissions. With a staff of over 200, the Office is also responsible for all civil litigation involving the County and its officers. Through it's Social Justice and Impact Litigation Section, the Office litigates high-impact cases, drafts innovative local ordinances, and develops policies and programs to advance social and economic justice.

About the County of Santa Clara, California

The government of the County of Santa Clara serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents—more populous than 14 states. With a $8.1 billion annual budget, dozens of departments and agencies, and over 20,000 employees, the County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many others.

Media ContactLaurel Anderson/Marina Hinestrosa, Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119 

Posted: August 29, 2019