NYSBA Honors Civil Rights Attorney With Haywood Burns Memorial Award

By Brendan Kennedy

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The New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Civil Rights announced that Armen H. Merjian will receive the 2020 Haywood Burns Memorial Award at a ceremony later this year. In over two decades as a senior staff attorney at Housing Works/HIV Law Project, Merjian has been a leading HIV/AIDS and civil rights attorney. He conducted impact litigation involving HIV/AIDS, homelessness, public benefits, disability, gender and housing discrimination.

He has litigated numerous precedent-setting cases including Hanna v. Turner, which established the right of homeless New Yorkers living with AIDS to same-day placement in emergency housing, the first ruling of its kind in the United States. He also litigated Bumpus v. New York City Transit Authority, which found that the 40,000 transit authority workers were not exempt from the New York City Human Rights Law.

Named in honor of W. Haywood Burns, the former dean of the City University of New York School of Law, this award recognizes individuals who have made contributions to New York in a manner that reflects Dean Burns’ commitment to the struggle for justice.

In addition to his renowned career as a litigator, Merjian is an accomplished author. He co-authored the national treatise on AIDS, contributed to the book “Tenants & Landlords NYC: Not a Love Story” and wrote dozens of law review articles on human and civil rights.

Merjian was unable to receive the award at the committee’s annual award ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, he will receive the award later this year alongside the 2021 winner.

Nominations for the 2021 Haywood Burns Memorial Awards are still being accepted. Click here to learn more.

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