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Prof Mark Kappelhoff Appointed Judge in Minnesota's Fourth District

State Capitol

Governor Mark Dayton has appointed University of Minnesota Law School Professor Mark Kappelhoff to serve as a judge in Minnesota’s 4th Judicial District. The district, encompassing Hennepin County, is the state’s largest trial court. In appointing Kappelhoff, Dayton praised his “deep commitment to justice and public service.”

Dean David Wippman applauded Kappelhoff’s appointment to the bench and added, “Mark has all the qualities to make a superb judge—intelligence, integrity, compassion, and an unwavering commitment to equity and justice. His departure is a loss for the Law School, but a great gain for the state of Minnesota.”

Kappelhoff directs the Law School’s Criminal Justice and Misdemeanor Prosecution Clinics and the Minnesota Law Public Interest Residency Program; he also teaches a seminar on human trafficking, and he speaks and consults regularly on issues related to the criminal justice system, police-community relations, and civil rights laws.

Kappelhoff joined the Law School faculty in 2012 after a distinguished 14-year career as a prosecutor with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served in a number of leadership positions, including chief of the Criminal Section and acting principal deputy assistant attorney. During his tenure at the Justice Department, he prosecuted and supervised some of the nation’s highest-profile hate crimes, police misconduct, and human trafficking cases, including the largest human trafficking case in Justice Department history. He was instrumental in the DOJ’s efforts to secure passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, co-chaired the attorney general’s advisory group on racial disparities in federal sentencing, and created the Civil Rights Division’s groundbreaking Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.

In the 2014-15 academic year, Kappelhoff took a leave of absence from the Law School to serve in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division as a deputy assistant attorney general in charge of enforcement efforts related to policing practices, human trafficking, and hate crimes. He oversaw the Justice Department’s criminal and civil investigations of police departments in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, and other cities, and he supervised the federal hate crime investigation into the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. In 2015, Kappelhoff received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service—the Justice Department’s highest award for employees—for his work on the Ferguson Police Department investigation.

Kappelhoff is expected to be sworn in as a district court judge in July.

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