Award of Special Merit

Established in April 1988, the Award of Special Merit is  presented by the Board of Governors to members of the State Bar of Arizona who have made significant contributions to the furtherance of public understanding of the legal system, the administration of justice,  and confidence in the legal profession.   

2024 Recipient

D. Christopher Russell

Chris Russell graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1996. He joined the Judge Advocate General’s Corps and served on active duty from 1997-2003. He left active duty in 2003 for private practice and continued to serve in the reserves until retirement.

Chris focuses on personal injury/wrongful death law, as well as criminal defense. He is one of the founding members and on the board of The Better Bucks/Better Work program for the homeless in Sierra Vista. He is an active member of The Huachucans, a program dedicated to raising money and helping kids. Chris serves the State Bar on the Board of Governors, and this past year lent a hand in reconstituting the Cochise County Bar Association. Chris provides meeting space for the Cochise County Reentry Coalition, a program dedicated to assisting those coming out of prison, and the Sierra Vista Company of the Arizona Rangers.

He is surrounded by family and friends. His wife Sandy, also a lawyer, often provides sage advice that lights the way forward and from time-to-time keeps Chris out of “trouble.” He has the pleasure of working with an outstanding legal team, which includes his daughter Jordan, a 1L, and retired Judge Laura Cardinal.


Previous Recipients

The award has been presented to:

1988     Hon. Frank X. Gordon, Jr
1989 Not awarded
1990 Hon. L. Ray Haire
1991 Prof. Charles M. Smith
Hon. Morris K. Udall
1992 Not awarded
1993 Mark I. Harrison
Charles T. Stevens
1994 Hon. Nikki A. Chayet
Patricia A. Sallen
John M. Schlosser
1995 E. Calvin Fuchs II
Duke Nordlinger Stern
1996 Christopher Johns
1997 Michael M. Grant
1998 Not awarded
1999 Hon. Norman S. Fenton
2000 Sen. Marc L. Spitzer
Hon. Thomas A. Zlaket
2001 Timothy M. Hogan
Norman L. Miller
2002 Daniel Cracchiolo
2003 Walter Cheifetz
2004 Hon. Edward E. Davis (posthumously)
2005 Frances L. Johansen
2006 Anthony W. Clark
Susan R. Agrillo
Norma L. Classen
2007 Theodore Campagnolo
Hon. Gary E. Donahoe
2008 Larry C. McVey
Sidney T. Marable (posthumously)
2009 John W. Rogers
2010 Gary R. Stickell
Alex E. Navidad
2011 Hon. Daniel A. Barker
James W. Richardson
2012 Hon. Ann A. Scott Timmer
Stephen Weiss
2013 Mark E. Meltzer
2014 William W. Owsley
2015 David B. Rosenbaum
2016 Gary M. Kula
2017 Robert L. Gottsfield
2018 Hon. Michael P. Pollard
2019 Hon. Dan R. Slayton
2020 Stacy Rupprecht Butler
Denice R. Shepherd
2021 Anne Ronan
2022 Know Your Rights
2023 Barbara Atwood
2024 D. Christopher Russell
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