United States: Hillsborough County Area Receives $1,248,008 Federal Grant In Pilot Program Combating Violence Against Women, Reports Piper Rudnick Attorney Michael Bedke
Last Updated: July 26 2004

Grant from Department of Justice is part of federal Family Justice Center Initiative

TAMPA – The Hillsborough County area will receive a total of $1,248,008 in two awards from President George W. Bush’s Family Justice Center Initiative, in a new pilot program to prevent and respond to violence against women, said Piper Rudnick partner Michael Bedke, who initiated and spearheaded the effort to create the Hillsborough County Family Justice Center.

Mr. Bedke, who recently was named Florida’s 2004 Victim Advocate of the Year, said, "We are pleased and grateful that our area’s program has received this award, which will enable us to embark on this important new approach to helping the victims of domestic violence. It will save lives and help transform ‘victims’ into ‘survivors.’"

Of the two awards under the Family Justice Center Initiative, $1,098,000 will go to Hillsborough County and $150,000 will go to Bay Area Legal Services, Mr. Bedke said.

The Family Justice Center Initiative is a new pilot program intended to make it easier for domestic violence victims to find support and aid by gathering in a single location the full array of professionals who provide them services. These include victim services advocates, law enforcement officers, civil attorneys, clergy, and others, all based under one roof. Pilot Family Justice Centers are being put in place in 15 communities across the country, and this week they received a total of $20 million in awards from the Department of Justice.

Speaking in Washington, D.C., U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said, "The Family Justice Center Initiative Awards will make a tremendous difference for women in these communities who are victimized by domestic violence, allowing those who desperately need help to find it in one place…. The Family Justice Centers will ease their burdens and demonstrate that the most compassionate way of helping victims can also be the best and most effective way."

Mr. Bedke served as president of Bay Area Legal Services in 1997 and 2002, and, through his service on the boards of that organization and The Spring of Tampa Bay, worked to forge an alliance between the two groups that created in Hillsborough County what has been called a "one-stop advocacy shop for domestic violence victims"--the forerunner of the Family Justice Center. His advocacy on behalf of victims of domestic violence has earned him national recognition, including his appointment to the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women. He is also known for his highly effective work in a host of other causes.

"Mike’s devoted work on behalf of victims of domestic violence is only a part of the picture," said Ronald S. Holliday, the firm's Tampa office managing partner. "Piper Rudnick attorneys are continually giving of their time to pro bono programs large and small all over the country."

The firm, he continued, supports numerous programs across the full pro bono spectrum, among them hunger relief, civil rights, and domestic violence projects and programs that advocate for foster children, immigrants seeking asylum, and prisoners facing the death penalty. Mr. Holliday specifically cited the firm's much praised Special Education Initiative on behalf of the Washington, D.C., public schools' special education system, and its little-known representation, on a pro bono basis, of the Government of Afghanistan. "I believe Piper Rudnick is the only law firm that represents a sovereign government pro bono," he said.

In his private practice, Mr. Bedke represents clients in all aspects of real estate and commercial lending work. His clients include institutional lenders, major developers, and national retailers. He has represented clients in several deals in excess of $100 million. Mr. Bedke is rated "AV" by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the highest rating attainable, and has been listed in the National Law Journal's exclusive "40 Under Forty" listing of lawyers and The Business Journal's "40 Under Forty" listing of outstanding business talent.

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