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Former DOJ Civil Rights Division's chief of Criminal Section joins U of M Law School faculty

July 13, 2012

Mark Kappelhoff, former chief of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), has joined the University of Minnesota Law School as a clinical professor, Dean David Wippman announced today.

Kappelhoff began his career with the Civil Rights Division in 1998 as a trial attorney, later serving as deputy chief and principal deputy chief. He became chief of the Criminal Section in 2006. He was appointed to also serve as acting principal deputy assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division in 2009 and as acting chief of the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section in 2010.

Before joining the DOJ, Kappelhoff was legislation counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, assistant public defender for Maryland’s Montgomery County and an associate at Kutak, Rock & Campbell in Washington, D.C.

Under Kappelhoff’s leadership, the Criminal Section, which prosecutes cases involving violent interference with liberties and rights defined in the Constitution or federal law, set several records for successfully prosecuting criminal civil rights cases, including hate crimes, human trafficking and law-enforcement misconduct. He personally led an extensive investigation into widespread corruption involving officers in the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, and he supervised and assisted in one of the largest human trafficking cases ever prosecuted by the DOJ, United States v. Kil Soo Lee.

“For over a decade, Mark has worked tirelessly to enforce our nation's most cherished civil rights laws and to uphold the constitutional rights of all regardless of race, religion or sex orientation,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division in a press release announcing Kappelhoff’s departure. “He helped bring this nation closer to its promise of equal justice for all. I am proud of all of his contributions to the Civil Rights Division and thank him for his leadership and extraordinary advocacy.”

Kappelhoff has received numerous honors and awards for his work, including the Presidential Rank Award in 2011, the highest annual award for federal government career senior executive service professionals, and the Attorney General’s John Marshall Award in 2010 for his efforts to secure passage of the landmark Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He has also received the Director’s Award for Superior Performance from the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service and the Civil Rights Division’s Meritorious Award and Special Achievement Award.

A 1983 graduate of St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., Kappelhoff received his J.D. in 1988 from American University, Washington College of Law, where he was a senior staff member on the Law Review and a legal research and writing instructor. He has been an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Law; Georgetown University Law Center; and American University, Washington College of Law. At American University he was also a visiting assistant professor in the Criminal Justice Clinic.

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