GLENDALE—Congressman Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) and Glendale City Council Member Rafi Manoukian were honored by the Armenian Bar Association for their principled and effective advocacy of critical causes to Armenian-Americans in California and across the United States.
The evening program was a showcase of appreciation for those who have demonstrated a proven track record in advancing the rights of the Armenian community on local and national levels. Both Schiff and Manoukian were noted for their stellar support of issues of long-standing and current significance, beginning with the seminal priority of Genocide recognition and education, to overcoming recent legal challenges affecting the ability to pursue life insurers which have wrongfully denied the claims of the survivors and those of their families.
While the tone of the evening was about celebrating the successes that have been achieved through the exemplary work of Congressman Schiff and Council Member Manoukian, the recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Movsesian case, which frustrates the ability of Armenian-Americans from obtaining the return of insurance assets from the Armenian Genocide-era, was fresh on the minds of many attendees.
Edvin Minassian, the Chairman of the Armenian Bar Association, expressed sentiments of praise and urgency as part of his welcoming speech to the attendees. He stated, “We will look toward our national government . . . our representatives in Washington . . . to be more vigilant and more courageous when it comes to issues involving the Armenian Cause.” He then spoke directly to Congressman Schiff as he avowed that the Armenian Bar Association, and Armenian-Americans across the country, would look to him to be the leader in the cause of justice related to the Genocide.
Notably, Congressman Schiff was introduced by Walter Karabian, who moved the audience to laughter with his inimitable wit and then to studious appreciation of his institutional knowledge of California politics. Since leaving the California legislature in the 1970s, after having served as its majority leader, Mr. Karabian has been a leader of many Armenian community initiatives and a mentor to many young professionals.
Garo Ghazarian, the Vice-Chairman of the Armenian Bar Association, Dean of Peoples College of Law, and a member of the Glendale Civil Service Commission, explained that the “facts of the events of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 have properly been declared by historians, journalists and indeed countless nations and the citizenry of conscientious countries in Europe and around the world.” However, rather than viewing the setback as the end of the fight to seek justice for those Armenians who were harmed in the Genocide, Ghazarian noted that the ruling of the 9th Circuit was an indication that more work is needed. “We are empowered by the problematic decision in the Movsesian case… we rededicate our efforts in light of the court’s unfortunate holding,” Ghazarian said.
ArmenBar Executive Director, Jacklin Boyadjian, succinctly stated why Schiff and Manoukian were being honored: “Both of these men have been forces for shining a light on the concerns of Armenian-Americans in California and across the United States.” Boyadjian also stated that the efforts of Congressman Schiff and Council Member Manoukian “have helped to generate greater interest in Armenian issues, and to encourage others to learn more about the Armenian community within the United States.”
A wonderful and refreshing highlight of the evening came when a very talented group of 7th and 8th grade students from the Armenian Sisters’ Academy was recognized by the Association for its outstanding performance in the middle school division of the Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Mock Trial Program. Thirty-six schools participated in the competition, with the Sisters’ Academy being the only Armenian school in the division. After only its third year in the competition, the Sisters’ Academy reached the playoffs and placed in the top 6 of 36 schools. Principal Sister Lucia Al-Haik, coaches attorney Ani Papirian and English teacher William Bassett, and the parents were each commended for their outstanding leadership, commitment and devotion to inspiring the young students and encouraging them to strive for excellence.
In attendance was a full roster of judicial leaders and law enforcement brass on both the federal and state levels, elected officials, as well as a wide spectrum of leaders and representatives from the Armenian community, including Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca and Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, both of whom addressed the guests, as well as U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judges in
attendance included Site Supervising Judge of Los Angeles County Superior Court in the city of Glendale, Fred Rotenberg, and ArmenBar past Chairman Zaven Sinanian.
Also in attendance were Israel Deputy Consul General Gil Artzyeli, Deputy Consul General Mesrop Shaboyan from the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles, Ara Najarian, Glendale City Council Member, Scott Ochoa, the City
Manager of Glendale, Michael Garcia, the City Attorney of Glendale, Gary Schram, Chief of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation and President of the California Police Officers’ Memorial Fund, Curt Livesay, Chief
Deputy City Attorney for the city of Los Angeles, Sergeant Thomas Lorenz, Adjutant to the Glendale Chief of Police, Sergeant John Gilkerson, Captain Todd Stokes, Captain Carl Povilatis, and Captain Mike Rock of the Glendale Police Department, Felipe Plascencia, Former President of the Mexican American Bar Association’s Political Action Committee, and Greg Krikorian, Board Member of the Glendale Unified School District.