Posted by Barbara Gilbert on 11/15/2012

The Honorable Stephen P. Friot, United States District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma, received the Oklahoma Bar Association’s 2012 Award for Judicial Excellence at the OBA’s Annual Luncheon held November 15, 2012. The award recognizes excellence of character, job performance or achievement while a judge, as well as service to the bench, bar and community.

Judge Friot was chosen as the recipient of this year’s award based on his efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Russia.

The Russian judiciary looks to the American system as a model for securing the rule of law. Working closely with the Federal Judicial Center and the Open World Leadership Center, Judge Friot has been deeply involved in assisting the Russian judiciary by welcoming Russian judicial officers who come to the United States to learn more about the U. S. judicial system. By establishing rapport with jurists, practitioners and academics in Russia, Judge Friot has worked at the forefront of Russia’s efforts to achieve judicial reform and independence.

In his seven trips to Russia in the past few years, Judge Friot has provided on-site guidance to policy-makers in that country. He has collaborated with judges in Ulyanovsk, Nizhny Novgorod and St. Petersburg in grassroots rule-of-law exchanges between legal professionals.

While in Russia, he has lectured at bar association meetings, at three Russian law schools and at a conference of the Academy of Justice of the Russian Federation. He has worked with law students, attorneys, court employees and judges on a variety of issues relating to the Russian judicial system and has written four articles, published in Russian in a Russian law review, on legal subjects of interest to Russian judges, lawyers and legal academics.

Not only has Judge Friot made many trips to Russia in recent years, he has hosted numerous legal exchanges bringing Russian jurists and others to Oklahoma. Since 2006, Judge Friot has hosted five visiting Russian delegations through the Open World Leadership Center. Oklahomans jump at the chance to be a part of these programs. Through these exchanges, Judge Friot has not only enhanced the Russian judiciary’s legal experiences, he has increased Oklahomans’ awareness and understanding of the Russian legal culture. Judge Friot’s hosting work continues today as he prepares to welcome another delegation of scholars and judges from Nizhny Novgorod to Oklahoma City in the fall of 2013.

In October, 2007, Judge Friot served as the U.S. judicial delegate to the Tenth International Forum on Constitutional Review, in Moscow, sponsored by the Institute for Law and Public Policy.

In 2008, Judge Friot received the Global Vision Award presented by the Oklahoma City affiliate of Sister Cities International.

Over the years, Judge Friot has worked with the U.S. International Judicial Relations Committee, the Russian American Rule of Law Consortium, the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative, USAID, Open World, and Rotary International. Judge Friot’s participation in these programs has made him a de facto diplomat developing friendship, understanding, and détente between legal professionals in Russia and the United States.

The Oklahoma City Chapter of the Federal Bar Association congratulates Judge Friot on his distinguished judicial career and thanks him for a lifetime of service to the bar, the bench, and the broader community.