November 14, 2006
Justice Armand Arabian ('61) Receives 2006 Fernando Award
Former California Supreme Court Justice Armand Arabian has been named recipient of the 2006 Fernando Award, given annually to a San Fernando Valley resident for volunteer efforts on behalf of the community.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Arabian’s selection at the 48th Annual Fernando Award Finalists’ Recognition Dinner last Friday, after secret ballots cast by members of the Fernando Award Foundation placed him above four other finalists.
Arabian, 71, told The MetNews yesterday receiving the recognition was a “very touching experience.” He explained:“You do things from the heart and most of the time there’s no acknowledgement of it, and it’s not expected. This [honor] is very meaningful to me because most of my adult life has been centered around the Van Nuys Civic Center.”
Upon his admission to the State Bar in 1962, he worked for a year as a deputy district attorney in Van Nuys and then entered private practice in that city until then-Gov. Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Municipal Court there in 1972. He was later elevated by Reagan to the Superior Court and remained in Van Nuys for 10 years, including service as supervising judge before then-Gov. George Dukemejian appointed him to the Second District Court of Appeal in 1983.
After six years as an associate justice on the Supreme Court from 1990 to1996, Arabian set up an office across from the Van Nuys Civic Center, where he works as a private judge for ADR Services, Inc.
In keeping with Fernando Award tradition, Arabian will have his name inscribed on two statues commemorating the honor, a decades-old bronze monument located in the Valley Civic Center in Van Nuys and another, installed in 1996, that stands at Warner Park in Woodland Hills.
A formal celebration dinner will be held sometime in February, the justice said.
The award does not include a cash prize, but award foundation president Brad Rosenheim said Arabian will be asked to designate a high school in the San Fernando Valley to which the foundation will award a $2,000 scholarship for one of its graduating students.
The annual Fernando Award honors an individual from the San Fernando Valley who, “through a life of volunteerism encompassing personal commitment and involvement, has worked to improve the quality of life in the San Fernando Valley.”
Fourteen individuals were nominated this year by community organizations and leaders. A screening committee narrowed the field to five finalists.
At the award ceremony Friday, Arabian was recognized for being a national leader in the reform of rape laws, specifically for his work in bringing about recognition of the sexual assault counselor-victim privilege.
The justice said his work in rape reform sparked his desire to be involved in the community:
“I was somewhat isolated in my 24 years of service on the court, but the work that I did in rape reform which was outside my judicial duties took me into a world of seeing pain and need,” he said. “After I left the court, I’ve been gone for 10 years, I’ve become far more involved.”
He is involved in the presentation of various awards and scholarships that encourage community service, such as the “Armand Arabian Leaders in Public Service” awards and scholarships presented annually by the Encino Chamber of Commerce.
In 1999, he donated funds to create Lawyers Resource Centers in the Van Nuys and San Fernando superior courthouses.
Last December, the Justice Armand Arabian Reception Hall was dedicated in his honor at the Chatsworth Superior Courthouse.
A New York native and the son of Armenian immigrants who survived the Turkish Genocide, Arabian graduated from Boston University and Boston University School of Law. He also holds a master of laws degree from the University of Southern California.
He said his legacy is demonstrating that “there’s always something to be done if you have the heart and soul to accomplish it.”
“There is no such thing as ‘I didn’t know where to put myself,’” he said. “I always summarize it by the phrase, ‘Make a difference.’ Everyone can make a difference if they choose to.”