The ACLU of Maine is proud to announce that Deirdre M. Smith of Pownal is the recipient of the 2016 Justice Louis Scolnik Award. The award will be presented at a dinner and celebration on Thursday, April 28 at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport. 

Smith is Professor of Law and Director of the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic at the University of Maine School of Law, where she oversees and teaches in one of the oldest continuously operating law school clinical programs in the country.

“Professor Smith has dedicated her life to helping Mainers who too often face barriers to justice,” said Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine. “She is a fierce legal advocate who truly embodies the spirit of the Scolnik Award.”

Through the Clinic, student attorneys are specially licensed to practice law and represent real clients with low incomes in matters ranging from child custody disputes, to immigration matters, to criminal cases. Under Smith’s leadership, the Clinic has expanded to include innovative clinical courses in the areas of Juvenile Justice and Refugee and Human Rights.

Smith was a founding board member of KIDS Legal. She plans the Justice Action Group’s Biennial Access to Justice Symposia, and is actively involved in efforts addressing legal aid, family justice systems reform, and access to justice for low-income Maine residents.

The featured speaker at the event is Dennis D. Parker. Parker is director of the national ACLU Racial Justice Program, which focuses on racial profiling, affirmative action, indigent representation, felon enfranchisement and the school-to-prison pipeline. The Program seeks to remove barriers to equal opportunity for communities of color through litigation, public education, community organizing and legislation.

The Scolnik Award was established in 1989 to honor members of the legal community who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the protection of civil liberties. The award is named for former Maine Supreme Court Justice Louis Scolnik, a co-founder and the first president of the Maine Civil Liberties Union (now the ACLU of Maine).

More information is available here: