University of Minnesota Law Professor Receives U.S. Justice Department’s Highest Award

October 21, 2015

Law School Professor Mark Kappelhoff today received the prestigious U.S. Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service from Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The award—the highest given by the Justice Department for employee performance—honors Kappelhoff for his instrumental role in the civil rights investigation of the police department in Ferguson, Mo., following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. 

Attorney General Lynch recognized Kappelhoff and other employees of the Justice Department for their distinguished public service during the 64th Annual Attorney General Awards Ceremony, held at DAR Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C. This event recognizes department employees for their outstanding dedication to carrying out the Department of Justice’s mission.

The Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service was presented to Kappelhoff and the teams responsible for conducting the high-profile civil rights investigations involving the Ferguson Police Department in the wake of the tragic shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson Police Department officer. In the face of intense public scrutiny, the teams conducted exhaustive investigations and produced two extensive public reports that found that the evidence did not support federal criminal charges, but determined that the Ferguson Police Department engages in unconstitutional and biased policing practices. 

“The Law School is delighted at this latest recognition of Professor Kappelhoff's extraordinary talent, dedication, and experience,” said Dean David Wippman. “While we were happy to loan him to the Justice Department for his service as deputy assistant attorney general, we’re even happier to have him back.”

Kappelhoff joined the Law School faculty in 2012 after a distinguished 14-year career as a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice. During his tenure at the department, he served in a number of senior leadership positions, including chief of the criminal section and acting principal deputy assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division. He also has prosecuted and supervised some of the nation’s highest-profile civil rights cases, including hate crimes, human trafficking, and law enforcement misconduct cases. 

Kappelhoff recently returned to the Law School after taking a leave of absence and serving as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division, where he supervised enforcement efforts related to policing practices, human trafficking, hate crimes, and criminal justice reform. In this role, he oversaw the Justice Department’s criminal and civil police investigations not only in Ferguson, but in Baltimore and other U.S. cities. He also has played a key role in the Justice Department’s police accountability and criminal justice reform efforts, including working closely with the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, which has been actively engaged in Minneapolis to improve relationships and trust among the community, the police department, and the criminal justice system. 

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