NEW ORLEANS — Former Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr. will receive the 39th Annual Ben Smith Award from the ACLU of Louisiana. This award honors people who have demonstrated a commitment to the advancement of civil liberties in Louisiana. It is named for the late Ben Smith, a founder of the ACLU of Louisiana and a civil rights lawyer who was arrested for his work to end segregation and for participating in mixed-race gatherings.
A native New Orleanian, Justice Calogero graduated from Loyola University School of Law in 1954, where he was first in his class and was President of the Loyola Law Review. He served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1957 as a military police officer, and then as an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Justice Calogero served on the Louisiana Supreme Court for 36 years, having been elected to the Court four times, the first time in 1972. As an Associate Justice, he was a member of the Judicial Council and the Judicial Ethics Committee.
Justice Calogero was sworn in as Chief Justice April 9, 1990. As Chief Justice, Justice Calogero spearheaded numerous reform initiatives in the area of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice in Louisiana, many of which still serve as national models of court improvement. Just a few examples include creation of the Louisiana Indigent Defender Board (now an executive branch agency), establishment of the mandatory Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Fund Account Program (IOLTA) to fund law-related programs benefiting the public and legal system, and calling for reform of the state’s juvenile justice system, which resulted in an historic collaboration of the three branches of government and an unprecedented overhaul of the juvenile justice system.
Justice Calogero has received numerous awards, among them the Louisiana Bar Foundation’s 1991 Distinguished Jurist Award; the 1995 Distinguished National Jurist by the Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis; the American Judges Association's national 1995 Judge Bob Jones Memorial Award, for significant contributions to judicial education; the 1997 Justice Albert Tate, Jr. Award from the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; the 1999 Outstanding Judicial Award from Victims and Citizens Against Crime, Inc; a distinguished Medal of Honor Award in 2002 from the Mayor of New Orleans; the 2005 Beacon of Justice Award from the American Board of Trial Advocates’ Southeast Chapter; the 2007 Distinguished Jurist by the Pro Bono Project and, also in 2007, the American Judicature Society's, Fourth Annual Dwight D. Opperman Award for Judicial Excellence.
Upon his retirement in December of 2008, Retired Chief Justice Calogero received additional honors, including the dedication in his honor of the December 2008/January 2009 issue of the Louisiana Bar Journal; andthe Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Counsel’s Lifetime Achievement A ward. The Louisiana Bar Foundation has instituted the Calogero Justice Award to honor a local, state or national individual or organization for a significant contribution to the Louisiana justice system. Retired Chief Justice Calogero has also received the Integritas Vitae Award, Loyola University of New Orleans’ highest honor, given to individuals who possess a high moral character in a lifetime of unselfish service without expectation of material reward or public recognition. The Loyola Law School’s Alumni Association further honored Retired Chief Justice Calogero with its St. Ives Award,in recognition of his service to the law.
A dinner honoring Retired Chief Justice Calogero will be held on May 8, 2015 at the New Orleans Marriott at the Convention Center in New Orleans. The keynote speaker will be current Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson, with additional remarks by Calvin Johnson, retired Chief Judge of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.