The Foundation for Improvement of Justice, Inc. hosted its 28th awards banquet Saturday September 28th, 2013 at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta.   The Foundation for Improvement of Justice, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1984 for the purpose of improving local, state, and federal systems of justice within The United States of America.  Each year, the Foundation accepts nominations for the Paul H. Chapman award to recognize and reward individuals or organizations whose innovative programs and work have made improvements in the various systems of justice.   Winners receive a check for $10,000, the Paul H. Chapman medal, a Commendation Bar Pin, a certificate of appreciation, and an invitation to an awards banquet held in Atlanta, Georgia.  For more information about the Foundation please visit our website at www.justiceawards.com.

This year’s Paul H. Chapman Award winners were:

Jaime Esparza, District Attorney for the 34th Judicial District in Texas recognized for creating and implementing the 24-hour Contact Initiative for handling domestic violence cases in hopes of improving prosecution efforts and victim services.

Melinda Aguilar, recognizes for her bravery and presence of mind that ended the killing spree of serial killer Coral Eugene Watts in 1982 and her efforts in the years that followed to ensure justice for his victims by testifying against him at a 2004 Michigan murder trial.

David Goldman, recognized for his work as Director and Co-Founder of the Bring Sean Home Foundation whose mission is “to assist victims of international child abduction, educate the public about the issue, prevent further abductions and draw attention to the increasing number of cases that currently exist with the purpose of returning abducted children to their  home countries and reuniting them with their left-behind families.”

Christopher J. Schmidt, recognized for his pro-bono work trying international child abduction cases under the Hague Convention.  He has successfully won five different cases and resolved additional cases without going to trial.  Because of his efforts, the State Department has listed his firm, Bryan Cave LLP, as a “preferred” law firm for handling international abduction cases.

Ex-prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement (EPOCA), recognized for its leadership in the struggle to reform Massachusetts’ Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system.  The 2010 law prohibits job applications from including questions about a person’s criminal record and reduces the time a person has to wait to seal a criminal record allowing those who have paid their debt to society and opportunity to become productive and successful members of society.

Sergeant Jason Teague, a member of the Gwinnett County Police Department’s SWAT team, recognized for his heroism and actions that helped prevent a tragic injustice from being perpetrated on five firefighters taken hostage after responding to what they thought was a “medical emergency”.  Teague was the senior team leader of the tactical group in the successful hostage rescue of these firefighters.