Babcock is Liberty Bell Award winner for 2004

Iosco County News Herald, MI
May 6 2004

Babcock is Liberty Bell Award winner for 2004
by John Morris

EAST TAWAS – A Tawas City businessman who runs a longtime
family-owned business, Iosco County Abstract Office, and who has been
involved with many community activities and boards is the 2004
recipient of the 23rd Circuit Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award.

He is Carl “Butch” Babcock of East Tawas who is a lifelong resident
and native son of the Tawases. The Award was presented Friday at the
Tawas Bay Holiday Inn Resort in East Tawas during the bar
association’s annual Law Day luncheon.
Nichol Palumbo, president of the 23rd Circuit Bar Association, said
Babcock is a valuable asset not just to her profession in matters of
real property and information, but as a historian to the community,
especially as the area grows. Babcock’s business deals primarily in
land abstracts, title insurance and mortgage closings.

“He constantly donates his time and energy to the community,” Palumbo
said of Babcock. “And he is always available.

“What he brings to us is something that can’t be measured. He is a
valuable source of information and a lot of questions of him.”

Babcock said he is shocked, surprised and honored to receive the

“I consider everyone in this room a friend,” he said. “There’s a lot
of sharing between attorneys and land title concerns. Likewise, I ask
a lot of questions of you.”

The Liberty Bell Award was established by the American Bar
Association about 35 years ago to acknowledge outstanding community
service to a person who is not an attorney. The 23rd Circuit Bar
Association has historically presented its award to those who have
dedicated careers to promoting better understanding and respect for
the rule of law, good government of the area or community service.
Law Day is May 1.

Keynote speaker for the luncheon was retired 23rd Circuit Judge J.
Richard Ernst who recently returned from a year’s trip to Armenia.
Ernst said Armenia uses a civil law system, a system that goes back
to the Roman Empire.

He call Armenia a “unique country” fought over by Mongols, Turks,
Persians and Russians. “It’s little country with a rich history,” he

“The Armenian people are a proud people,” he said. “There are more
Armenians in the world — six million — than in their own country —
2.3 million.”

Ernst said the Armenian legal system is derived from its 80-year
existence an a Soviet Union state. “Judges receive a lifetime
appointment from the president,” he said. He said an Armenia judge
can be removed, although it is rare when it happens.

The Armenian legal system is in three branches: a Court of First
Instance (one judge); a three-judge Court of Appeals; and a Court of
Cassation which is split into two divisions — civil and criminal —
with seven judges in each division.

Ernst said Armenia courts are located in “very dilapidated quarters.
In earthquake-ravaged areas, the judges were too embarrassed to show
me their quarters,” he said.

A temporary cage holds defendants while they are in the court and in
recently history, there’s only been seven acquittals, Ernst said.

“They don’t try people if they’re not guilty,” he said. “Judicial
independence is practiced in theory, but obviously it does not exist.

“The judge will naturally favor the party that supples the largest

He said an attorney in Armenia received a law degree after four years
of college and can purchase grades and purchase a position.

There’s also no time constraint for court cases. For example, he said
one case began in 1998 and is continuing to this day. “There’s no
finality,” Ernst said. “There’s no date for trail and no date for
when he trial ends.

That is, he said, unless the defendant pleads guilty.

Ernst said the court system in Armenia made him reflect “how
fortunate we are in what we have and what we have the possibility to