Morris Dees, the co-founder and lawyer of the Southern Poverty Law Center, was honored at the Union League Club of Chicago by the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. The event held on March 2, 2010 at the Union League Club of Chicago was attended by Cook County judges, elected officials and members of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, the Union League Club of Chicago and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Decalogue Merit Award was awarded to Mr. Dees for his tireless work in fighting hate groups ranging from the Klu Klux Klan to the White Aryan Resistance. Mr. Dees was responsible for numerous victories against hate groups, including a $6 million judgment that bankrupt the Aryan nations, a $12.5 million jury verdict against the California-based White Aryan Resistance for the death of a black student, and a $26 million verdict against the Carolina Klan for burning black churches.
However, these victories did not come without a price. In 1983, the Klansman burned the Southern Poverty Law Center’s offices. And while the arsonists were convicted, their leader almost successfully fulfilled a plot to kill Mr. Dees. Over the years, more than 30 men have been imprisoned for plots to harm Morris Dees or destroy the Southern Poverty Law Center property. This continued threat requires a high degree of security during public appearances.
Mr. Dees has received other prestigious awards in conjunction with his work. The US Jaycees choose him as one of the ten outstanding young men of America for his early business success. Trial Lawyers for Public Justice named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”. In 2009 he was inducted into the Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame by the American Association for Justice. The New York law firm Skadden Arps, in conjunction with the University of Alabama School of Law, gives the “Morris Dees Justice Award” annually.
The Decalogue Society Merit Award has been given to many other prestigious recipients including Albert Einstein, Harry S. Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, Dr. Jonas Salk and author Saul Bello. There were more than 200 attendees at the event, including Chicago personal injury attorney Robert D. Kreisman, who is a member of the Decalogue Society, the Union League Club of Chicago, and a long time supporter of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
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