Washoe Judge and Nevada student debater honored

4/25/2011 | By: Claudene Wharton  |

Washoe District Court Judge Frances Doherty, a champion for Nevada children and families for 20 years, will be recognized for her outstanding public advocacy, and University of Nevada, Reno senior Max Alderman will be recognized as the University's top debater at the 14th Annual Robert S. Griffin / W. Clark Santini Ceremony at 4:30 p.m., May 3 at the University's Joe Crowley Student Union. The annual event is named for Robert S. Griffin, considered the father of University of Nevada, Reno debate, and W. Clark Santini, a protégé of Griffin and an alumnus who worked tirelessly to keep debate alive at the University.

The ceremony recognizes the top University of Nevada, Reno debater with the presentation of the Robert S. Griffin Medal, which this year will be awarded to philosophy and political science major Max Alderman, who also received the award in 2009. In March, Alderman was recognized as the top individual speaker - out of a field of 306 - at the National Championship Tournament by the National Parliamentary Debate Association. Alderman, a National Merit Scholar, teamed up with his freshman partner Jonathan McGuire to place fifth out of 153 teams in the national competition. Alderman was also chosen as one of three collegiate debaters in the country to represent the United States in an exhibition debate against the Irish National Team. Finally, at the concluding awards ceremony, Alderman was named an All-American, one of only four collegiate debaters in the nation to receive the honor this year.

"Many consider Max to be the best collegiate debater in the country," said University of Nevada, Reno Debate Team Coach Phil Sharp. "He's very well-informed and he's just been blessed with a likability that you can't deny."

The W. Clark Santini Award is given each year to a person who, through oral communication, has brought significant benefits to the community as a whole. Since the early 1990s, Doherty has been advocating for issues ranging from divorce and child custody to juvenile justice and mental health. Several laws passed by the Nevada Legislature involving joint custody, alternative juvenile detention initiatives and treatment of juveniles in state custody bear Doherty's imprint. With the state's budget crisis that could lead to a loss of millions of dollars for social services, she is frequently sought to detail the negative impacts those cuts could have for struggling Nevada families.

William Isaeff, chair of the Griffin Santini Committee, said of Doherty, "Her career is one of working closely with troubled juveniles and families, determining what practices are needed to help them address their issues, and then advocating on their behalf to turn those practices into law. She very much captures the spirit of Clark Santini."

The public is invited to attend the Robert S. Griffin / W. Clark Santini Ceremony recognizing Doherty's and Alderman's achievements. For more information about the event, call (775) 784-6839.


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