By Hannah Adams and Amy Berberyan
OAKLAND, CA – Alameda District Attorney candidate and civil rights attorney Pamela Price, and trial lawyer Rick Simons are recipients of the inaugural member of the year awards by the Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers’ Association (ACCTLA).
Since 1970, the Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers’ Association (ACCTLA) has led California trial lawyer associations in calling for reform of the bar and bench.
In light of members who embody the goals set forth by the organization, ACCTLA has created a new award—Member of the Year, awarded to a member who meets the following criteria: “A current ACCTLA member, committed to social justice, has contributed to the community, has great legal accomplishments (recent or career-spanning), has a great commitment to diversity and inclusion issues, often contributes to ACCTLA and, above all, shows the utmost of professionalism and ethics.”
“Pamela and Rick meet all of these qualifications in every respect, and we feel that Pamela embodies the criteria for Member of the Year,” stated ACCTLA board member Cassie Springer Ayeni.
“(Price’s) commitment to social justice and the community is apparent in her every action—she even takes the time to attend bail hearings for her friends’ children so she can advise them on the process. Her legal accomplishments speak for themselves—she is a giant in our field, and her kindness, professionalism, and ethics are apparent in every conversation,” Ayeni added.
With regard to gender justice, Price—as a survivor of domestic violence—has personal experience that allows her to sympathize with and provide survivors the help they need, said ACCTLA.
One instance cited was the stand she took during the Alexander v. Yale case, in which several Yale students—including Price—alleged that Yale faculty had sexually harassed them. Price, specifically, was offered an “A” if she slept with her teacher. After refusing, she was given a “C.”
Price remained the only plaintiff in this case, which was the first to utilize Title IX against an educational institution. In addition to this milestone, the case resulted in Yale and several other universities in the United States adopting procedures to report sexual harassment.
She also co-founded the Bay Area Defense Committee for Battered Women in 1979.
Addressing racial justice, Price has “handled dozens of police misconduct and race discrimination cases in state and federal courts” according to her website.
In addition to this, she became one of the few Black women to argue before the United States Supreme Court. The case she successfully championed—which involved racial harassment that her client endured at his workplace—earned him $500,000.
This victory earned Price the California Lawyer of the Year in Employment award and also established the legal precedent for the continuing violation doctrine, which applies to discrimination cases.
Regarding what she has given back to her community, Price “co-chaired the Bay Area Chapter of the National Conference of Black Lawyers” and served on its national board.
She is responsible for helping found Vukani Muwethu, a choir that has been “singing South African freedom songs since 1986” according to her website.
Price has held leadership positions in the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco, the Black American Law Students Association, Black Women Organized for Political Action, and the Oakland East Bay Democratic Club.
Her social justice work has earned her awards, including Woman of the Year for Assembly District 18 and four Certificates of Special Congressional Recognition.
Price said “I am simply grateful. ACCTLA is one of the most influential legal organizations in California. Whether it’s their collective activities as an organization or the stellar legal work of its individual accomplished members, ACCTLA is the perfect example of where laying the groundwork for generations ahead benefits all of us.
“This award mirrors why I ran for Alameda County District Attorney. We need a DA who will lead with professionalism and ethics. We have seen my opponents in this campaign have trouble with both of those values. The people of Alameda County deserve a district attorney who works as a Minister of Justice for the whole community, not just for people with money, connections and relationships with the office,” said Price.