May 9, 2012
More than 140 Lawyers Ready to Serve the Public Interest
Civil Rights Leader and Judge Ronald Ellis is Commencement Speaker
More than 140 CUNY School of Law students will receive their Juris Doctor degrees at a May 18th graduation ceremony. “We are confident our graduates will make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged and disempowered. As public interest lawyers, they follow proudly in the tradition of CUNY Law alums who serve the greater good,” said CUNY Law Dean Michelle J. Anderson. CUNY Law’s clinical education program continues to rank in the top five in the country.
Since its founding in 1983, CUNY Law’s motto, “Law in the Service of Human Needs,” continues to guide its mission. Recently named one of the “Best Value” law schools by National Jurist, CUNY Law is also recognized as the leading public interest law school by PreLaw Magazine.
This year’s graduation ceremony will feature civil rights leader Ronald Ellis as the 2012 commencement speaker. U.S. Magistrate Judge Ellis will also receive an honorary degree, along with Dikgang Moseneke, Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and Radhika Coomaraswamy, Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict at the United Nations. “As our graduates look to the future, I know they will be inspired by the courageous lives, perseverance, and accomplishments of our honorary degree recipients,” added Dean Anderson.
Ronald Ellis was appointed a United States Magistrate Judge in 1993. He dedicated most of his legal career to being a civil rights lawyer and activist with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, specifically directing its Fair Employment and Poverty & Justice Programs. In this position, Judge Ellis was responsible for trial and appellate cases spanning 6 federal circuits in 12 states, dealing with urgent issues, such as voting rights, health care, housing, education, and environmental justice cases, in addition to equal employment cases. A graduate of NYU Law School, Judge Ellis has taught at his alma mater and has written on many issues, including race and gender fairness in the courtroom. Judge Ellis is a longtime friend of CUNY School of Law and takes the time to welcome each of our entering classes during Orientation.
Dikgang Moseneke, who studied to become a lawyer while in prison, is the Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. At the age of 15, Justice Moseneke was arrested, detained, and convicted of participating in anti-apartheid activity. Sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, Justice Moseneke was among the first prisoners on Robben Island allowed to study. After his release, he obtained his LLB from the University of South Africa and, in 1978, was admitted and began practicing law. In 1993, Justice Moseneke served on the committee that drafted the interim constitution of South Africa. He was appointed Deputy Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission in 1994, which conducted the first democratic elections in South Africa. Later that year, he was appointed to the Transvaal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court. He was then appointed a Judge of the High Court in Pretoria and, in 2002, a Judge in the Constitutional Court. In 2005, he was appointed Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa. Justice Moseneke is the recipient of numerous awards of honor, performance, and excellence and has presented at numerous conferences and published in law journals in South Africa and abroad.
Radhika Coomaraswamy has served as Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict at the United Nations since 2006. In this capacity, she serves as a moral voice and independent advocate to build awareness and give prominence to the rights and protection of children affected by armed conflict. Ms. Coomaraswamy is a graduate of the United Nations International School in New York. She received her B.A. from Yale University, her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law, and an LLM from Harvard University. A lawyer by training and formerly the Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, Ms. Coomaraswamy is an internationally known human rights advocate and was a Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women from 1994 to 2003. In 2003, she was appointed Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission. Ms. Coomaraswamy is the recipient of many awards and honors and is a strong advocate on women’s rights who has intervened on behalf of countless women throughout the world seeking clarification from governments in cases involving violence against women.
Graduation will be held on May 18th at 11:00 a.m. at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts, Colden Auditorium, Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, Queens. Contact: Vivian Todini 718-340-4530.