St. Mary’s University School of Law held its 79th commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18 in the St. Mary’s University Alumni Athletics & Convocation Center’s Bill Greehey Arena. John M. Vaught, partner in Denver’s Wheeler, Trigg, O’Donnell L.L.P., delivered the keynote address.
Vaught, president-elect of the Denver Bar Association and a 1978 St. Mary’s School of Law graduate, has specialized in complex commercial litigation for more than 30 years and is an active member of the Colorado Bar Association. A Vietnam veteran, Vaught was a leader in establishing the Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans program to provide pro bono legal services to service members, veterans and their families.
295 law students met the graduation requirements to walk the stage on Saturday, including 14 earning masters of law degrees.
During the ceremony, St. Mary’s celebrated the career of The Hon. David A. Ezra, Senior U.S. District Judge, by naming him the Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Ezra, a native Hawaiian, earned his B.B.A. degree from St. Mary’s University and was the top graduate of St. Mary’s University School of Law’s Class of 1972. He served in the military and practiced privately concentrating in the area of financial services litigation for several years before his appointment to the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii in 1988. He served as vice president of the U.S. Federal Judges Association and is the only judge from Hawaii to be elected a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States. In 2007, Ezra was awarded St. Mary’s Rosewood Gavel Award for his contributions to the adjudication of justice. Upon his appointment, Ezra became the youngest federal judge in Hawaiian history and was the state’s longest serving active federal judge at his retirement.
The law school also annually presents two awards to those who have made exceptional contributions to the legal profession and education. Chief Justice of the Fourth Court of Appeals Catherine M. Stone, a 1982 St. Mary’s School of Law graduate, received the Rosewood Gavel Award. The St. Thomas More Award was presented to Keith Sipe and Linda Lacy, publisher and senior editor, respectively, of Carolina Academic Press.