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Judge Kelly McKibben presents Brian Onek with “Attorney of the Year” Award at Legal Aid’s 36th Annual Pro Bono Awards Gala


admin - June 14, 2024 - 0 comments

Judge Kelly McKibben presents Brian Onek with “Attorney of the Year” Award at Legal Aid’s 36th Annual Pro Bono Awards Gala

It is with great pleasure that Brevard County Legal Aid welcomed Eighteenth Circuit Court Judge Kelly J. McKibben as our special guest speaker for this year’s Annual Pro Bono Awards and Recognition Gala, which took place on Friday, May 17th, at Suntree Country Club in Melbourne. Brian Onek was honored as Brevard’s “Attorney of the Year.”

For the length of her distinguished career, Judge McKibben has been keenly focused on the legal issues facing children. Prior to becoming a judge, she served as a Child Welfare Legal Services Attorney with the Department of Children and Families. There, she played an integral role in protecting the rights of abused and neglected children. For the past 17 years, she has built an impressive judicial record in the 18th Judicial Circuit.

Judge McKibben has served in the Family and Criminal Divisions and in the role of Administrative Judge in the Juvenile Dependency Division. Among dozens of awards for her service, she received the 2018 Jurist of the Year Award from the Florida Association for Women Lawyers and, in 2016, the William E. Gladstone Award for her significant contributions on behalf of dependent children and their families. In 2022, Judge McKibben was recognized with the Distinguished Judicial Service Award at Brevard County Legal Aid’s Pro Bono Recognition Gala.

Judge McKibben presented awards to local attorneys who have gone above and beyond in their pro bono contributions. Brian Onek was recognized with “The Kenneth F. Tworoger Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award.” The award is named after longtime Brevard Legal Aid supporter Ken Tworoger, who passed away on March 12, 2020. Ken left behind a legacy of pro bono advocacy and generosity.

After obtaining his law degree at the University of Florida in 1983, Brian Onek served as an Assistant Public Defender here in Brevard County for 16 years. In 1999, he entered private practice and has partnered with Kevin Mawn for the past 24 years. Brian is widely recognized as one of Brevard County’s preeminent criminal trial lawyers.

In recent years, Brian has donated hundreds of hours to victims of domestic violence and sexual violence, helping to secure vitally important court orders that provide protection from batterers. Many cases require his immediate attention to address critical issues such as custody and support. Brevard County Legal Aid staff know that they can count on Brian when urgent assistance is needed.

Brian has also volunteered his considerable trial expertise to assist legal aid attorneys and clients with difficult evidentiary issues involving abused and neglected children. One particularly heart-wrenching case involved sexual violence on a four-year-old victim at the hands of her father. After extensive litigation, motion hearings, multiple judges, and an extended trial, Brian helped secure court-ordered protection for the young, vulnerable child.

Other award winners included “Outstanding Pro Bono Service Awards” to John Daly, Jack Platt, Thomas Yardley, Vencil Moore, and Diane Baccus-Horsley.

The law firm of Shuster & Saben was Platinum Sponsor for the event. Gold Sponsors included Allender & Allender, PA, Brevard County Bar Foundation, Brevard County Bar Association, Faro & Crowder, P.A., Michael and Roma Kahn, Michael Kahn, PA, and Nance Cacciatore, and the Vickaryous Law Firm.

Silver Sponsors were Alpizar Law, Douglas R. Beam, P.A., Caruso & Swerbilow, PA, Goldman, Monaghan, Thakkar & Bettin, P.A., The Law Office of Michael Howard, Rob and Shelley Johnson, and Lacey Lyons Rezanka.

For more information please call BCLA at (321) 631-2500 ext. 511