Lawrence W. Golden has been selected to receive the 2020 Root/Stimson Award from the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) for his work in bringing attention to wrongful convictions.
Golden, who practiced civil law in Utica for 49 years, was president of the Oneida County Bar Association in 2008 when he developed a program in connection with the Innocence Project, which exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. The program debuted that year on Law Day and was such a rousing success that Golden expanded it to a five-day event featuring panel discussions with nationally known exonerees, a screening of the documentary film After Innocence and a live performance of the play, The Exonerated. The programs won NYSBA’s Innovation Award for 2008.
In 2009, Golden was appointed to serve on NYSBA’s Task Force on Wrongful Convictions and assisted on recommendations regarding how to fairly compensate exonerees.
Golden continues to raise public awareness about wrongful convictions by delivering talks about its causes to high school and college students and civic organizations in Central New York. He serves as a guide and mentor to numerous groups that help exonerees heal and move on with their lives after incarceration, including the Sunny Center Foundation in Tampa, Fla., which was founded by two former inmates who were themselves wrongfully convicted.
The award is named for Elihu Root and Henry Stimson and honors their commitment to public service. Root served in President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration as secretary of state, received the Nobel Peace Prize and was a president of NYSBA. Stimson was secretary of war under Presidents William Howard Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. He also served as secretary of state under President Herbert Hoover.
Golden will receive the award on April 10 at a meeting of the association’s governing body, the House of Delegates.