The Civil Libertarian of the Year award is given by the ACLU of Nevada to individuals who have significantly contributed to the protection and advancement of civil liberties in Nevada. It was established in 2004 in honor of Emilie Wanderer, one of Las Vegas’s first female attorneys and a long-time civil rights advocate.
Kathleen J. England
Kathleen Jane England, a Boston native, has been active in Nevada's legal community for decades. Ms. England helped to found the Nevada State Bar's Young Lawyer's Section, was active in many of the American Bar Association's sections (Young Lawyers, General Practice, Gavel Awards), and was appointed to the Nevada Supreme Court's Gender Bias Task Force. She chaired the first City of Las Vegas Ethics Review Board and the Nevada State Bar's Character & Fitness Committee. She also co-chaired a project with Habitat for Humanity for the local bar association. Ms. England served on the Nevada State Bar's Board of Governors for ten years (2001-2011) and was President of the Nevada State Bar from June 2009 to June 2010. The Nevada Supreme Court has appointed her to a number of commissions. Ms. England's clients have won substantial judgments in Title VII cases, including federal jury verdicts against Nevada Department of Prisons, SAKS Fifth Avenue, and Clark County Department of Aviation. She is active in many community organizations (Girl Scouts, homeless shelter, rape crisis shelter, Planned Parenthood) and has received many honors and awards. For over 30 years, Ms. England's civil litigation practice has been devoted to representing victims of discrimination and sexual violence.
Richard Siegel became part of the earliest leadership of the ACLU of Nevada in 1967 about one year after the founding of the affiliate. From 2007 to 2014 he represented ACLU on Nevada’s Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice, on which he fought for moderation and reform of one of the country`s most punitive state criminal justice systems. Throughout his time with the ACLU, all as a volunteer, he was also a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at UNR. He specializes in International Human Rights and continues to the present to teach the course that he created on that subject. He has multiple publications in that area and others, many of which were published by Human Rights Quarterly.
Shelley Berkley was the first woman to serve in Nevada’s First Congressional District, which she held for 7 terms. Berkley left her mark with a strong record of defending and advancing civil rights for the three decades she served in public office. When in Congress, she earned the title of “hardest working woman in politics” for her tireless work on issues that matter to Nevadans: Job creation, education, healthcare and renewable energy. Shelley was a champion for seniors, veterans, immigration reform, human rights, LGBT rights, and equal rights for women. Berkley now serves as CEO and Senior Provost, for Touro University’s Nevada and California campuses.
Yvanna Cancela is the political director at Culinary Workers Union Local 226 of UNITE HERE, Nevada’s largest union with over 55,000 members. She is responsible developing an overarching agenda to advance workers’ rights. Yvanna has dedicated her career to advancing workplace justice and fighting for comprehensive immigration reform. She led programs to increase members’ awareness and civic engagement that resulted in the registration of thousands of new Latino voters, as well as record voter turnout among union members. Throughout the last year and a half, Yvanna has worked to organize union members to pressure Congress for comprehensive immigration reform. Through her work, she aims to empower workers to exercise their voices and push for change. Despite being the political director, Yvanna stays closely involved with the worker organizing. In 2013, she was awarded the White House’s César Chávez Champions of Change award for the union’s work on organizing for comprehensive immigration reform. Yvanna was born and raised in Miama, Florida. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2010.
Ruby Duncan is a civil rights leader, advocate, and icon. She spearheaded the movement for the rights of mothers and their children in the 1960's, leading the effort to reform the way Nevada treated its most vulnerable. Ruby moved to Las Vegas in 1952, when southern Nevada was still highly segregated. In 1969, after bringing concerns of mothers on welfare to Nevada State Legislature, Duncan was elected president of the new Clark County Welfare Rights Organization. In 1971, when Nevada cut 75% of aid to welfare recipients, she organized demonstrations, eat-ins, and two large marches on the Strip, famously shutting down Caesars Palace and other casinos. In 1972, she founded Operation Life, a community-run anti-poverty non-profit organization, which brought important changes to the poor in West Las Vegas including building a medical clinic and library; promoting economic development and education; creating housing and job training; and providing day care for working mothers. Duncan served as the Operation Life’s executive director until 1990, and the organization closed its doors in 1992.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal team who produced the series "Deadly Force: When Las Vegas Police Shoot, and Kill"
Police officers’ ability to use lethal force cannot be unlimited nor can it be used improperly. After two high-profile and controversial officer-involved shootings in the summer of 2010 by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Las Vegas Review-Journal began investigating over twenty years of shootings by officers in the Las Vegas valley and developed a five-part investigative series “Deadly Force: When Las Vegas Police Shoot, and Kill” published in November 2011. Not only was the series highly informative and timely for the public and local government officials, it was of tremendous help to the ACLU of Nevada as we prepared our petition to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting an investigation into Metro.
Although the ACLU of Nevada does not always agree with the Review-Journal’s positions on every civil rights and civil liberties issue, their work on this series was unprecedented in Nevada and is nationally outstanding. In addition, the ACLU of Nevada appreciates the Review-Journal’s serious, extensive, and ongoing attention to constitutional law issues through its news articles, editorials, and both staff and guest columns.
Chris Giunchigliani, Clark County Commissioner
Chris Giunchigliani is a long-time ACLU member and has been a leader in the defense of civil liberties and civil rights in Nevada for over two decades. She is a committed and accomplished civil libertarian throughout her tireless work as a state legislator and Clark County commissioner. Giunchigliani has been a tireless advocate for free speech, indigent defense, fairness, and equality for all Nevadans. In 1997, she worked to repeal two laws that chilled free speech in political campaigns, recognizing the First Amendment trumps the desire to prevent negative campaigns. Giunchigliani also opposed a plan to privatize medical care in prison and led the fight to ban the death penalty for juvenile defendants. She worked to assist individuals with criminal convictions reintegrate into the community after completing their sentences, one of the leading factors of reducing recidivism rates, including attempting to simplify the process to have voting rights restored. Giunchigliani has worked for equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and is a vocal supporter of gay marriage. Additionally, in 2010, she worked with the ACLU of Nevada to reform the Clark County Coroner’s Inquest process.
Franny Forsman, Federal Public Defender for the District of Nevada
Franny Forsman tirelessly worked for a better criminal justice system in the state of Nevada. She was appointed the Federal Public Defender for the District of Nevada in 1989 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to Forsman’s graduation from Notre Dame Law School in 1977, she had been a social worker, community organizer, and drug treatment therapist. During her legal career, she has been a county public defender, a supervising staff attorney for the Nevada Supreme Court, and a partner in a civil law firm. Forsman served as the President of the State Bar of Nevada in 1995 and Chair of the Defender Services Advisory Group of the U.S. Judicial Conference. She has worked on many projects seeking reform of the criminal justice system including the Committee that drafted the ordinance creating the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Citizen Review Board and the Indigent Defense Commission. Forsman teaches Trial Advocacy and Evidence at the Boyd School of Law and UNLV awarded her the President’s Medal in 2003 and the “Distinguished Nevadan” award in 2005.
David Parks, Nevada State Senator
David Parks works to promote equality and justice for all Nevadans. In addition to being a stalwart defender of civil rights, he was the chief sponsor of two bills in the 2009 Legislature that very significantly advanced equality and marked a truly watershed moment for LGBT rights in Nevada. SB 283 created a Domestic Partnership Registry, which grants rights and responsibilities similar to marriage to same or opposite sex couples. SB 207 banned discrimination in all public accommodations based upon sexual orientation. Neither of these bills would have been possible without the belief and perseverance of Senator Parks.
Jim and Beverly Rogers
Jim and Beverly Rogers demonstrated over the years, through their philanthropic giving and other activities, their commitment to civil liberties and civil rights. In 2008, their generous donation allowed the ACLU of Nevada to create the Beverly Rogers Fellowship for outstanding Boyd Law School students who share the Rogerses’ commitment to defending fundamental rights. Jim Rogers served as interim chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, and both Jim and Beverly are ardent supporters of education.
Dean Richard Morgan, Former Dean of the William S. Boyd School of Law
Dean Richard Morgan was the founding dean of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s William S. Boyd School of Law, a position he held from September 1997 through June 2007. His commitment to making the Boyd Law School a place that honors the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and encourages public service, helped make it a special institution and a friend to those who care about civil liberties and civil rights. Dean Morgan’s highly distinguished career in legal education spanned 27 years and included service as dean of the colleges of law at the University of Wyoming and Arizona State University, as well as Interim Dean of the UNLV College of Business. He is currently Of Counsel at Lionel Sawyer & Collins and continues to serve on numerous committees and task groups in the legal community and in legal academia.
Chief Justice Robert Rose, Nevada Supreme Court
Chief Justice Rose has always stepped forward on issues of criminal due process, women’s rights, and civil rights – both in relation to the Nevada judiciary and for all citizens of Nevada. Rose consistently paid attention to his obligation to protect against violations of due process of law in criminal and civil cases, and he was always willing to speak and act publically in the interest of reform of the criminal justice system. Rose promoted the creation of the Court’s blue ribbon Judicial Assessment Commission to identify unequal patterns of treatment of citizens and failures to create equity in staffing within the justice system. He graduated from the New York University School of Law. He served as Washoe County District Attorney, Lieutenant Governor, and an Eighth Judicial District Court judge before being elected to the Nevada Supreme Court. Chief Justice Rose retired from the Nevada Supreme Court at the end of 2006.
In 2004, the ACLU of Nevada established the Civil Libertarian of the Year award in honor of Emilie Wanderer, and presented her with the award the same year. Wanderer spent a lifetime fighting for justice and equality for all Nevadans. She was one of the Nevada’s most ardent champions of civil liberties and civil rights for women, people of color, children, and others who often go unrepresented in our criminal and civil justice systems. Wanderer was one of the first women to pass the Nevada Bar, and was the first female attorney to open her own practice in Las Vegas. In the 1950s, she helped the NAACP fight segregation in Las Vegas. Wanderer also defended African-American clients in death penalty and other criminal cases at a time when taking on such causes was extremely unpopular, often receiving threats from her neighbors. She was a true champion of equality. Wanderer died in 2005 at the age of 102.