The Rockefeller Center Celebrates Law Day 2010

This year’s Law Day was a two-day event that examined hate crimes and the legislation on the state and federal level to prosecute it. The activities were sponsored by the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences, the Dartmouth Legal Studies Faculty Group and the Dartmouth Lawyers Association, and included panel discussions, and a public lecture.

On Thursday, April 29, the Stephen R. Volk '57 Lecture honoring Law Day featured Judge John Mott ’81, associate judge for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, who gave a lecture titled "Hate Crime and Civil Rights Violations in the United States - the Law Enforcement Response."

Mott was appointed to the Superior Court for the District of Columbia in 2000 by President Clinton and has spent over 20 years in the courtroom as a public defender, federal civil rights prosecutor, and trial judge. Mott graduated from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1981. He was a captain of the ski team and a member of the senior society, Casque and Gauntlet.

Mott began his legal career at the District of Columbia Public Defender Service (PDS), a national leader in indigent defense. From 1988 to 1995, as a staff attorney and supervisor at PDS, Mott represented indigent defendants in juvenile proceedings, appeals, and scores of serious felony matters. From 1995 to 2000, Mott prosecuted hate crime, police brutality and official misconduct, involuntary servitude and other cases at the United States Department of Justice. As Acting Chief, he approved all criminal civil rights prosecutions, helped to create the Task Force on Violence Against Health Care Providers, and worked on legislative matters including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which created a new federal hate crime statute when it was passed in 2009 by President Obama. The legislation enhanced the ability of federal authorities to enforce the nation’s civil rights laws and further expanded the scope of the existing hate crime statute to protect individuals targeted on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability.

On Friday, April 30, a panel discussion on "Hate Crimes in America: Does Hate Crime Legislation Protect Victims or Punish Thought?" took place. The panelist included Judge John Mott ’81, associate judge for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; Sonu Bedi, assistant professor of government at Dartmouth; and Lisa Friel ’79, Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit, Manhattan County District Attorney's Office, and was moderated by Kevin O’Leary, associate general counsel at the College.

The final event was a panel discussion on "Why Should You Go to Law School?" The panelists included Bruce Duthu ’80, the Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies and Chair of the NAS Program at Dartmouth; Lisa Friel ’79, Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit, Manhattan County District Attorney's Office; Alexandra Meise Bay ’01, Associate at White & Case LLP in Washington, D.C.; and attorney Sarah Merlo ’00, with Vitt & Rattigan in Norwich, Vermont.

Read the Dartmouth Press Release on this event.