Current Features

LAWCA Board of Directors Member
- Judge Sol Gothard -
Receives A Very Special Award

National Organization of Forensic Social Work
Taps Award's Namesake As First Recipient

By Earl Hodges, Contributing writer, The Times-Picayune [New Orleans - May 19, 2011]

The National Organization of Forensic Social Work (NOFSW) held its 28th annual conference in New Orleans recently and awarded the Sol Gothard Lifetime Achievement Award to Metairie resident and retired Judge Sol Gothard.

Retired Jefferson Parish Judge Sol Gothard
with his lifetime achievement award.
Photo: Rusty Costanza/The Times-Picayune

"Sol Gothard is the first recipient of this award which the organization has named after him," said Paul Brady, executive director of NOFSW. "It will be given through the years to someone whose lifetime of service as a social worker epitomizes the objectives of the NOFSW, and the advancement of the practice and education in forensic social work.

"As a social worker and judge, Judge Sol has been at the forefront of bringing social workers into the legal system so that they may better service their clients. He has worked tirelessly to win recognition for the role of social workers in the legal process and to encourage social workers to participate in the legal system."

Gothard has presented numerous workshops at the annual NOSFW meetings and hosted three of the group's conferences in New Orleans. NOSFW has a membership of more than 350 and is headquartered in Middletown, Conn.

"Receiving the award was a complete shock to me," said Gothard, who has been an active participant in NOFSW meetings and activities for 25 years.

For Gothard, social work and the legal system as a career have been a perfect match. Growing up in the Bronx area of New York, Gothard's childhood was often traumatic because of family domestic violence.

"I still have vivid memories of that time," recalls Gothard, 80. "Social workers often intervened and they became my role models, father figures and heroes. They helped to define me and gave me hope and purpose in life."

Gothard says he also found direction from the Bronx House, a Jewish community center.

While still in his teens, Gothard decided he also wanted to be a social worker and help people the same way he had been helped. He worked his way through City College of New York, served two years in the U.S. Army and then earned a master of social work degree at Western Reserve University now Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. It was there he met his future wife, Jackie, a native of New Orleans.

After moving to New Orleans, Gothard earned a law degree from the Loyola University Law School and worked as an assistant chief probation officer with the New Orleans Juvenile Court Probation Office.

In 1972, Gothard was elected juvenile court judge for the Juvenile Court in Jefferson Parish. He served as a juvenile judge until 1986 when he was elected to the Louisiana's 5th Circuit Court of Appeal.

Gothard retired from the bench in 2005.

"I feel that I have been able to help people with their problems in the same way that social workers helped me," Gothard said. "I'm always bumping into people who remember me from the time I was a juvenile court judge. And they tell me how much I helped them."


More About Judge Gothard -

The Mandel School for Applied Social Sciences and The Law-Medicine Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Law had this to say about Judge Gothard in the "speaker information" in association with a presentation Jusge Gothard did there on September 11th, 2009:

Judge Sol Gothard retired Chief Judge Juvenile Court, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

Judge Sol Gothard, JD, MSW, ACSW, was elected to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal for the State of Louisiana in 1986 where he served as Senior Judge, until his retirement in 2005 .He was formerly Chief Judge of the Juvenile Court, Parish of Jefferson, State of Louisiana, having served there for fourteen years. Before being elected Judge in 1972, he was engaged in the private practice of law for over ten years. Prior to that, he was a social worker for sixteen years in a variety of settings. He has a Masters degree in social work from Case Western Reserve University, and a JD from Loyola University in New Orleans. He is an Honorably Discharged Veteran of the United States Army.

He has participated as lecturer, workshop leader and keynote speaker for numerous international, national and regional conferences and workshops. His articles have been published in Child Welfare, Social Work, Journal of Independent Social Work, Journal of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, The Practicing Law Institute, The American Medical Association, Journal of the National Organization of Forensic Social Work, Journal of The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, Seattle University Law Review, Louisiana Bar Journal, and other books and publications.

He is Past President of the Louisiana Council of Juvenile Court Judges. He teaches at Tulane University Graduate School of Social Work, where he has the rank of full professor.

In the past, Judge Gothard was selected "Citizen of the Year" by the Louisiana State Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers; he was awarded the Alfred E. Clay award for significant contributions to children by the Children's Bureau of Greater New Orleans; he delivered the commencement address to the graduates of the Tulane University Graduate School of Social Work, and the commencement address to the graduates of Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University, where he was also honored as "Alumnus of the Year" .He delivered the keynote address at the closing plenary of the 1990 NASW annual conference in Boston, which was attended by approximately 5,000 social workers.

Judge Gothard is a member or past member of the Board of Directors of numerous organizations, including The American Professional Society On The Abuse Of Children (APSAC), The American Humane Association, Children's Division, The National Organization of Forensic Social Work (NOFSW), 2000: Year of the Humane Child, One Voice: The National Alliance for Abuse Awareness, Our Children Our Future Charitable Foundation, and the Louisiana/SPCA. He is currently vice-chairman of the Louisiana Animal Welfare Commission, and President of the Council for Family Court Reform.

His most recent publications include: "The Evolving Law of Alleged Delayed Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse"(APSAC Journal); "Therapeutic Jurisprudence In The Appellate Arena-A Louisiana Jurist's Response"( Seattle University Law Review); "'Truth' versus 'Justice' In The Legal Arena: A Survey Of Judges, Lawyers And Mental Health Professionals"(Louisiana Bar Journal);." He recently taught two Internet Courses on "The Social Worker in Court: Playing Ball in an Unfamiliar Ballpark" and "Child Sexual Abuse and the Courts," under the auspices of the Tulane University Graduate School of Social Work.

He currently presents power point presentations at many conferences and to many groups, organizations and schools. His recent presentations include "Human Abuse/Animal Abuse: Psychological and Legal Implications; The Courts and judges in child abuse and custody cases: what's the problem?; Conducting Custody evaluations in the best interests of the child: a judge's perspective; Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Allegations in Custody cases; The Forensic Worker in Court: Playing the Game in an Unfamiliar Ballpark; Disorder in the Court: High Conflict People and Misuse of the Courts, Particularly in Custody Disputes; The Judge and the Court System in Custody and Visitation Cases: "Truth" versus/and/or "Justice"? and Social Workers, The Law and The Courts: A Judicial Perspective.

[Note: Judge Gothard was one of the four co-founders of the Humane HEART organization.]

See and hear Judge Gothard on YouTube.

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