Missouri lawyers selected for appellate advocacy awards
The Missouri Bar Foundation has selected three young lawyers to receive the 2020 David J. Dixon Appellate Advocacy Awards. Zachary Bluestone, Alexander Brown and Julia Neidhardt Rives are each being recognized for their outstanding achievement in appellate practice. This honor is named for Judge Dixon, whose tenacity, professionalism and judicial skills exemplified outstanding appellate practice.
Bluestone currently serves as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Missouri, where he focuses on criminal appeals and the prosecution of violent crimes. Previously, as a deputy solicitor general in the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, he helped manage the state’s appellate caseload. Between these two positions, Bluestone has served as lead counsel in high-stakes civil litigation and a number of criminal cases. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Bluestone clerked for the Hon. Raymond Gruender on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in his hometown of St. Louis. Prior to law school, he earned an MBA from the University of Oxford and a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. In addition to working for the State of Missouri, he has had extensive experience in all three branches of the federal government.
When asked about his favorite cases, Bluestone replied, “Laughlin v. Perry, which was just recently decided by the Supreme Court of Missouri, is definitely one. The Court held that Missouri public defenders are entitled to official immunity for conduct related to their representation of indigent defendants and rewrote official-immunity doctrine. I am proud to have helped ensure that public defenders are not exposed to unwarranted liability for the important work they do and to have saved taxpayers millions of dollars through reduced exposure for the State Legal Expense Fund.”
“While I also enjoy the fast pace and unique challenges of trial work, I’m particularly drawn to appellate advocacy because it involves a deeper engagement with legal issues, greater precision, and more carefully crafted arguments,” Bluestone added.
Brown graduated cum laude from both the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan Law School. Prior to law school, Brown spent a year volunteering as an Americorps VISTA in Kansas City helping to provide capital and education to small business entrepreneurs.
Brown has litigated dozens of insurance coverage cases across the country on behalf of some of the largest corporations in the world. In the prime of his career, Brown made a change. While he enjoyed the sparring of his past work representing insurance carriers, he decided to switch sides to represent policyholders instead and work on behalf of people who have been wronged.
Joining the Lathrop GPM Insurance Recovery team in 2013, Brown is one of the founders and leaders of Lathrop GPM’s Civil Rights Insurance Recovery practice which litigates §1983 civil rights claims on behalf of exonerees who were wrongfully imprisoned. In all, he has helped secure settlements in amounts well over $100 million for civil rights plaintiffs.
“I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work alongside innocence organizations to help wrongfully convicted clients secure compensation for what often amounts to decades of life lost in prison”, said Brown. “I am thankful to the Missouri Bar Foundation for recognizing our firm’s contribution to this cause, and I would like to dedicate my David J. Dixon Appellate Advocacy Award to the Midwest Innocence Project.”
Julia Neidhardt Rives grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. She attended the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she majored in General Agriculture and received her Bachelor of Science in 2013. After graduating, she attended the University of Missouri School of Law and graduated with honors in 2016. Rives began working for the Missouri Attorney General's Office in 2017 in the criminal appellate division.
“Working on criminal appeals for the State of Missouri has allowed me to significantly help people in a manner that I did not imagine when I first decided to go to law school,” said Rives. “I am very honored by this award and to be a part of a team that works tirelessly every day to advocate for justice.”
The three lawyers will receive a $750 stipend included with the David J. Dixon Appellate Advocacy Award. Click here to learn more about The Missouri Bar’s annual awards. Click here to view of a list of all past recipients of this Missouri Bar Foundation award.