2019 Recipients

You are here

Where presented : 
Exemplar Award Dinner
Recipient(s) name: 
Frank P. Cervone, Executive Director at the Support Center for Child Advocates, and John Schoeffel, Staff Attorney with The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice
Reason for selection of recipient(s): 

Frank P. Cervone has been dedicated to serving abused and neglected children in Philadelphia – and across the nation for almost 30 years. Never far from children, Frank carries his own caseload and is a consistent present in the lives of the young people he represents – many long after their cases have closed. He shares his dedication and sensitivity to the unique needs of court-involved children with the thousands of lawyers who CHILD ADVOCATES trains to provide impactful pro bono representation. Under his leadership, CHILD ADVOCATES has helped more than 10,000 children lead safer, healthier lives – a legacy that will go on for generations. In fact thanks to a model of whole-child representation championed by Frank, more than 90% of CHILD ADVOCATES’ cases close with children in safe, permanent homes. Frank has guided and managed efforts to improve civil rights of children through policy, legislation, and reform of the child welfare system nationwide. In the 1990s, he helped lead the ABA’s successful creation of the first-ever ethics and practice standards for children’s lawyers, and more recently in Pennsylvania, he spearheaded the development of the state’s unique and influential model to calculate responsible caseload sizes for lawyers representing children and parents in child welfare cases. Frank’s dream is that counsel will do everything humanly possible while children are in their watch to help them lead happy lives: “Consider the gay youth will grow up to be a spouse. A victim of child sexual abuse will grow up to look back with understanding and healing. A neglected child will know how to parent different. What does each of them need today to make those realities possible tomorrow?”


Over the past decade, John Schoeffel, led a statewide effort to reform New York’s restrictive criminal discovery rules. Known as the “Blindfold Law,” this draconian law allowed prosecutors to withhold critical evidence from the defense until the eve of trial, leaving the accused “blindfolded” and unable to prepare. For many decades, the result has been coerced and uninformed pleas, inability to investigate cases, and wrongful convictions and incarceration. In April of this year, New York’s Legislature enacted “open file” discovery. Instead of being among the most antiquated and unfair in the country, New York’s discovery statue is now a model for the nation. John’s statutory proposals and encyclopedic knowledge of the subject positioned him to effectively champion this cause among the defense community, grassroots advocates, bar associations, two statewide Task Forces, community based organizations and legislators. He helped raise the profile of open discovery to the forefront of the criminal justice reform movement. John steadfastly addressed adamant prosecutorial opposition to these reforms and developed broad-based support. He never failed to take a phone call on the issue no matter at what hour. John’s leadership on these reforms will have lasting impact. John’s latest success is part of an already remarkable career as a resource attorney. Incredibly prolific, John has worked long hours to produce a wide variety of extensive New York criminal defense litigation guides and memos that are beloved by his fellow attorneys for their scope, precision, and strategy. With a reputation for being helpful and always available, attorneys turn to John when they need help with a complicated area of law.