San Diego County Bar Foundation Announces 2020 Distinguished Lawyer Memorial Inductees

San Diego (August 5, 2020) – The San Diego County Bar Foundation (SDCBF) has announced a record seven Distinguished Lawyer Memorial inductees for 2020 – recognizing deceased lawyers and judges of the San Diego County Bar who  demonstrated significant community commitment as well as superior legal skills and high ethical standards throughout their enduring careers.

The Distinguished Lawyer Memorial Reception will be held virtually this year on Wednesday, October 14 between the hours of 5:30-7:30 p.m. The honorees are selected each year by the Bar Foundation board of directors, following careful consideration of all nominations. Recognition in the Memorial is permanent, and honorary plaques are displayed in the Hall of Justice.

The Foundation is privileged to bestow this prestigious recognition and to honor these pillars of San Diego who gave so much throughout their lives and careers for the betterment of our community”, stated SDCBF President, Gayle Blatt, who also shares that contributions in honor of these esteemed colleagues is devoted to the furtherance of their great work and our mission to provide access to justice to the marginalized and underrepresented of San Diego County.

The 2020 Distinguished Lawyer Memorial honorees are:

  • Andrew S. Albert: Accomplished attorney and past president of the San Diego County Bar Association, Albert went on to become a top mediator statewide for Judicate West. He was a mentor to many, serving as a lecturer for San Diego Inn at the Court and other entities
  • Hon. David Bartick: Following a long career in criminal defense, representing some of the region’s most high-profile and challenging cases, he became a respected federal magistrate judge – and was instrumental in leading the annual San Diego High School mock trial program.
  • Craig D. Higgs: Noted San Diego defense and plaintiffs’ attorney and mediator, Higgs was a lawyer who led by example, serving his community through volunteer leadership roles as both the president of the San Diego County Bar Association and as the Chair of the California Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation.
  • Roberta R. Sistos: Managing partner of the San Diego office of Burke, Williams & Sorensen, Sistos also focused on giving a legal voice to those who would otherwise lack one. She was president of California La Raza Lawyers, co-chaired the Supreme Court Committee for the Hispanic National Bar Association and sat on the executive board of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. 
  • Michael T. Thorsnes: Founding partner of Thornes Bartolotta McGuire, Thorsnes was an accomplished attorney who represented both plaintiffs and defendants, specializing in major business litigation. Active politically, he worked at every level on numerous Democratic state and national campaigns.
  • Hon. Leo Valentine: Role model to many, he was a revered San Diego Superior Court judge and tireless community advocate who cared deeply about helping disadvantaged youth – supporting multiple rehabilitation programs.
  • Donald R. Worley: Prominent San Diego attorney, Worley was a Yale graduate and former U.S, Navy officer. He was a partner at several prestigious San Diego firms, including Seltzer Caplan Wilkins and McMahon and also worked as an assistant city attorney.

Those inducted into the Distinguished Lawyer Memorial are lawyers and judges whose professional, public and private careers demonstrated outstanding dedication to the welfare of the community and the major objectives of the San Diego County Bar Foundation. This includes, but is not limited to, improving public awareness of the legal system in San Diego County, the administration of justice and the delivery of legal services.

To contribute to the Memorial or in recognition of one of this year’s honorees, visit, call 619-231-7015 or email

About San Diego County Bar Foundation
Tax deductible donations to the Distinguished Lawyer Memorial are encouraged and can be made by friends, families, and colleagues to recognize individual honorees. All donations benefit the San Diego County Bar Foundation and the legal organizations it supports, serving disadvantaged members of the local community. In 2019, SDCBF awarded $401,000 to 21 nonprofit organizations that provide access to justice for people and communities that are most impacted by poverty, abuse and discrimination throughout San Diego County. For more information, visit