2011 Recipients

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Where presented : 
Exemplar Award Dinner
Recipient(s) name: 
Wendy Pollack, The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and Samuel S. Dalton, Solo Practitioner, Jefferson Parish, LA
Reason for selection of recipient(s): 

Wendy Pollack completed a four-year apprenticeship with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America in 1982, starting a fascinating career that would lead to significant advancements in careers for women and protecting their legal interests. She led the Chicago Women in Trades in its successful strategies against race and sex discrimination and harassment. When she decided on a legal career, she attended Harvard University Law School, provided clinical legal services and gave an assignment to a younger student named Barack Obama. She later joined the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and focused on welfare-to-work issues. She left the organization in 1996 to join the National Clearinghouse for Legal Services and formed what is now The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. Highlights of her legal career include class-action victories reforming child support enforcement, striking down unconstitutional rules, resisting closure of an important trade school and eliminating waiting lists for the child care subsidy program. “Perhaps her most remarkable body of work, however, involves her comprehensive set of
victories on the policies, procedures, rights and services regarding victims of domestic and sexual violence,” John Bouman, president of The Shriver Center, said in his nominating letter. “She combines the hard-won wisdom of a discriminated-against worker in a physically demanding trade and an in-the-trenches high-volume direct service lawyer, with the top-notch intellect, sophisticated skills and seasoned judgment of an excellent policy advocate."

Sam Dalton traces his lineage to the notorious bank-robbing Dalton Gang of the Wild West on his paternal side and to the first governor of Tennessee on his maternal side. Hewas born in Tuscumbia, Alabama in 1927, graduated from Loyola University Law School in 1954 and has represented poor defendants for nearly six decades. He has worked on more than 300 capital cases and estimates that he personally has saved 15 men from execution. He founded the Jefferson Parish Indigent Defense Board in 1976 and has built a reputation for integrity, creative legal theories and compassion for the downtrodden. He is known for his lengthy court filings that are thorough and rich in constitutional law. New Orleans Times-Picayune Columnist James Gill praised Dalton as the “old lion” of Louisiana courtrooms, at a time in which he had filed an ultimately successful suit stopping the state from imposing extra fees on people released from jail on bond. In 1994, Dalton received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Loyola University, which recognized his “great heart,” “great conscience,” “enormous compassion” and “legendary” legal assistance to the poor. “Mr. Dalton is a veteran defense attorney and strident death penalty opponent known for his expertise in death penalty cases, both at trial and on appeal, including post-conviction relief for death row inmates,” Louisiana State Public Defender Jean M. Faria said in her nominating letter. At age 84, he continues to represent poor citizens accused of crimes even while undergoing chemotherapy the past several years.