Press Releases

April 02, 2012

Public Counsel to Honor Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel and Celebrate Fight for Justice in Our Communities on April 22

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LOS ANGELES – Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel will receive Public Counsel’s William O. Douglas Award at our annual event on April 22, 2012.

Professor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel was 15 years old when he was deported to Auschwitz, and his mother, father, and younger sister perished in the Holocaust. After the war, Wiesel became convinced that he should no longer remain silent about what he had witnessed as a prisoner in the Nazi death camps, and he wrote Night, an account of his experience. Since its publication in 1956, Night has been translated into over 30 languages.

“Elie Wiesel’s courage in telling his story of struggle and survival changed the course of history, and he has spent his career battling intolerance and injustice,” said Public Counsel President and CEO Hernán D. Vera. “Public Counsel strives to follow his example, to help others change their lives and to be a force for good in our society.”

Wiesel’s efforts have earned him numerous honors including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. That year, Elie Wiesel and his wife, Marion, established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity to advance the cause of human rights and peace throughout the world.

The William O. Douglas Award is named for the late Supreme Court justice noted for his support for civil rights and freedom of speech. Past recipients of the award include President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, and Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver.

Click here to see photos and video from the 2011 William O. Douglas Dinner with President Bill Clinton.

The William O. Douglas Dinner also recognizes other leaders who have helped make Public Counsel the nation’s largest not-for-profit law firm of its kind. Public Counsel represents more than 30,000 children, families, immigrants, veterans, and victims of fraud every year and reaches thousands more through impact litigation to bring justice to our schools and communities.

Warner Bros. Entertainment will receive the Corporate Achievement Award for its work to support and strengthen organizations like Public Counsel that promote education development and well-being of youth and inspire both youths and adults to develop the skills that will prepare them to be active and responsible citizens. Warner Bros. Entertainment has been entertaining global audiences for more than 85 years and strives to be a responsible and active corporate citizen.

Public Counsel board member and former Chair David Johnson will receive the Founders Award for his commitment to growing our mission. Johnson is the founder of Act 4 Entertainment, a filmed entertainment and new media content company to inspire social action. He executive produced “The People Speak,” a documentary with Matt Damon and others and produced “The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father CIA Spymaster William Colby.” Johnson helped launch Public Counsel’s impact litigation work to win cases that protect 75,000 Los Angeles students from the impact of teacher layoffs every year and fight for the rights of families and hard-working Californians. He is also co-chair of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP will receive the Law Firm Pro Bono Award for its important commitment to justice. Public Counsel board member Michael H. Steinberg has helped expose the mistreatment of immigrants with severe mental disabilities held in U.S. detention facilities. In a series of strongly worded decisions in Franco v. Holder, U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee ordered legal representation for several detained immigrants and certified a class action lawsuit by Public Counsel and the ACLU that is addressing the problem.

Credentials: Media interested in attending the event must secure press credentials by contacting Michael Soller at (213) 385-2977 x121 by Monday, April 16.