August 30, 2011
Father-Daughter Team Wins Prestigious Champion of Justice Award
Hon. M.T. Thompson, Jr.
The father-daughter team of 70th District Court Judge M.T. Thompson, Jr. and Thomas M. Cooley Law School Professor Monica Nuckolls were recently honored with the State Bar of Michigan’s 2011 Champion of Justice award. Each year, no more than five practicing lawyers and judges are given the prestigious award for their integrity and adherence to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession and an extraordinary professional accomplishment that benefits the nation, the state or the local community in which the lawyer or judge lives.
Confronting drug, alcohol and gang-related violence problems head-on, Judge Thompson and Professor Nuckolls have gone into some of the most distressed school districts in Michigan to present students with a drug education and crime prevention program they developed. They have also written two books for the program entitled, Making Choices and Facing Consequences: Gangs, Bullies, and Violent Crime and Making Choices and Facing Consequences: Drugs and Alcohol.
Designed specifically for communities with a youth crime problem, the middle and high school students who participate in the program work through real-life choices and consequences based on actual cases that revolve around the following:
• The short-term benefits of gang membership versus the long-term consequences and how all gang members eventually end up injured, dead or in prison.
• The benefits of saying no to gangs and drugs, staying in school and working hard.
• Violent crimes committed by young adults who failed to consider all of the potential consequences of their actions before they took them.
• Bullying and the potential consequences of taking a gun to school.
• Sexual assault and domestic violence and why it is never acceptable to inappropriately touch someone or resort to violence when things don’t go your way.
"Their selfless dedication to making a difference in the lives of young men and women in some of the most distressed school districts in the state, where most of us fear to tread, is an extraordinary professional accomplishment that has created silos of hope in Saginaw and Pontiac," said John Nussbaumer, nominator and associate dean of Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus. "These programs have the potential to benefit other communities around the state if we can find the funding to support them."
This is the fourth consecutive year that a Cooley Law School faculty member has won this award. Previous winners include Associate Dean Joan Vestrand in 2008, Professor E. Christopher Johnson, Jr. in 2009 and Dean Nussbaumer in 2010.
"This is really a testament to Cooley Law School President and Dean Don LeDuc's leadership in encouraging and supporting community involvement as an essential part of what we do," said Nussbaumer.
The recipients will be honored at the State Bar of Michigan Annual Meeting Awards Banquet on Wed., Sept. 14 at the Dearborn Hyatt. For more information on the Champion of Justice Award, visit michbar.org/programs/champjusticeaward.
Thomas M. Cooley Law School is the largest law school in the nation. Founded in 1972, the private, non-profit law school operates its Juris Doctor (J.D.) program, Joint Degree programs, and Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs across Michigan in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. Cooley recently announced a new Tampa Bay, Florida-area campus, with courses beginning in May 2012. Cooley has more than 15,000 graduates across the nation and worldwide and offers enrollment three times a year; in January, May and September. Cooley is an independent law school, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission.