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Wake Forest law alumni honored by ACLU of North Carolina

Two alumni of the Wake Forest University School of Law are the recipients of awards from the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. Robert “Hoppy” Elliott (’77) has been named the 2012 winner of the Frank Porter Award and Kristin Parks (’95) won the Paul Green Award.

An awards ceremony was held on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the William and Ida Center for Continuing Education in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Frank Porter award is the highest honor that the ACLU bestows and it recognizes an exemplary civil rights leader. The ACLU describes Elliot as “a passionate civil libertarian who has dedicated much of his distinguished legal career to advancing civil rights and the ACLU’s mission.”

The Paul Green award recognizes the humanitarian work of an outstanding lawyer.

Parks received the award after having worked extensively against the use of the death penalty in North Carolina, opting to represent post-conviction death-row appeals. She has lobbied the state to pass legislation banning the use of capital punishment against the mentally ill and has fought to raise awareness of the issue throughout North Carolina. She has also fought against the influence of racial bias in the application of the death penalty, and has worked with Wake Forest law school’s Innocence and Justice Clinic.

Since graduating from Wake Forest law school, Elliot has become a nationally renowned specialist in the areas of employment law, civil rights law and commercial litigation. He maintains a private practice primarily specializing in litigation based in Winston-Salem that he helped found with two other lawyers, and was named the top employment lawyer in North Carolina in 2008 by Business North Carolina.

Elliot, however, is arguably better known for his pro-bono work, having served clients that include death row inmates, victims of ineffective assistance and other disadvantaged clients. One of his most famous cases was the work he did with convicted detainees of the United States’ Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which led to the release of several inmates.