Dees to receive Mississippi State honor Wednesday

The founder of a Montgomery, Ala.-based organization that offers free legal services and advocacy in the areas of civil rights, immigrant justice, and children at risk will receive a judicial recognition from Mississippi State on Wednesday.

Morris Dees, who co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center, will receive the Pre-Law Society's Distinguished Jurist Award during 7 p.m. ceremonies in Lee Hall's Bettersworth Auditorium. He also will present a public lecture at that time. The annual recipient is selected by a committee of political science faculty and Pre-Law Society student members.

Dees becomes the 34th to receive the honor, which also has been awarded to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox and, most recently, Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice William L. "Bill" Waller.

Dees, a University of Alabama law school graduate, founded SPLC after a successful career in business and law. His initial cases set ground-breaking precedents in civil rights and established him as one of the most active voices against racial and social injustice.

Today, the SPLC continues to provide free legal counsel, as well as tracking hate crimes and providing educational resources through its Teaching Tolerance program.

For his efforts, Dees has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the Trial Lawyer of the Year from the Lawyers for Public Justice and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award from the National Education Association.

He was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the National Law Journal in 2006.

Dees' books include "A Season for Justice," his autobiography; "Hate on Trial: the Case Against America's Most Dangerous Neo-Nazi"; and "Gathering Storm: America's Militia Threat."

For more information, telephone Pre-Law Society adviser Whit Waide at 662-325-7860.

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