The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine announced Tuesday that it will present its 2016 Justice Louis Scolnik Award to Deirdre M. Smith, a professor at University of Maine School of Law.
Smith, a Pownal resident, will be presented the award at a dinner ceremony on April 28 at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport.
“Professor Smith has dedicated her life to helping Mainers who too often face barriers to justice,” Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine, said in a written statement. “She is a fierce legal advocate who truly embodies the spirit of the Scolnik Award.”
At the law school, Smith is the director of the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, where student attorneys are specially licensed to practice law and represent real clients with low incomes. Through the clinic, students handle cases including child custody disputes, immigration matters and criminal cases. Under Smith’s leadership, the clinic has expanded to include clinical courses in juvenile justice and refugee and human rights.
The featured speaker at the awards ceremony will be Dennis D. Parker, director of the national ACLU Racial Justice Program.
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 Louis Scolnik, a former justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court who co-founded the Maine Civil Liberties Union (now the ACLU of Maine) and served as its first president.