School of Law presents Thurgood Marshall and Public Service awards

Dames, Harp and Rose
From left: Fatima Dames, John Rose Jr., Toni Harp
March 31, 2014 - Fatima Dames, a tribal councilwoman on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council and a civil rights activist, and John Rose Jr., an attorney who was the state's first African American partner of a law firm, received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the School of Law's Black Law Students Association (BLSA) on March 27. New Haven Mayor Toni Harp received the group's Public Service Award at the event.

The Thurgood Marshall Award is given in honor of the first African-American to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Each year, BLSA recognizes an outstanding person in the legal, educational or political community who has in some way exemplified Marshall's dedication to improving society.

Dames has served the community as chairwoman of the tribe's constitution review team and, while serving on Peacemakers Council, was one of 12 mediators. Dames is currently chair of the tribe's economic development and education committees.

She is a strong advocate for civil rights. Last year she was instrumental in advocating for the passage of a law declaring November Native American Month. She continues to be an ardent supporter of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act 2013.

In early 2013, Dames reintroduced the enrolled bill of rights section to be incorporated into the tribe's constitution. She believes that it is critical for the citizens of Mashantucket to be afforded basic human rights and understands the importance of having due process, equal protection opportunities and individual freedoms. She has been a champion for the people when it concerns societal issues like voting, disability, education, housing and employment rights.

Dames holds a paralegal certificate from the Center for Legal Studies, as well as a bachelor's degree in legal studies and a master of arts in American Indian Studies with a concentration in federal Indian law from the University of Arizona.

Rose has handled numerous major commercial, construction, real estate, contract litigation and personal injury cases in his distinguished career. He has practiced before all of the courts in Connecticut and before many federal, state and municipal administration agencies, including the EPA, the Ethics Commission and the Department of Housing and Urban Development among others.

At the beginning of his legal career, Rose worked with the New Haven Legal Assistance Association and as an assistant chief prosecutor in the Circuit Court System. In 1968, he moved to Hartford to become the first African American in a major law firm in the Connecticut history at Ribicoff & Kotkin. Four years later, he became that firm's and the state's first African American partner.

In 1978, Rose and several partners left Ribicoff & Kotkin to found a new firm: Louden, Byrne, Schechtman, Slater and Rose. Here Rose was responsible for business development, client development, finances and accounting, growing the firm to more than 27 attorneys. Rose joined Levy & Droney in 1984 as a partner until 2004, when the then-mayor of Hartford appointed him as that city's corporation counsel. He supervised a small law firm that represented every city department, office and agency.

In 2010, Rose joined the Crumbie Law Group. He currently serves as a supervising attorney at the firm, representing large and medium-sized entities and municipalities in commercial matters ranging from tax appeal litigation to premises liability. He also engages in commercial law work, in which he establishes entities and represents new and existing companies in acquiring, selling and developing properties.

Rose has a long history of involvement with the Connecticut Bar Association, the National Bar Association and the Hartford County Bar Association. While corporation counsel, he was active with the International Municipal Lawyers Association. He is the current president of the Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity, a founder and past president of the George W. Crawford Black Lawyers Association and a board member of Foodshare.

The Public Service Award was presented to Toni N. Harp, mayor of New Haven.

Before being elected mayor in 2013, Harp earned a reputation as "the conscience of the Senate" at the Connecticut Capitol. Her public service in elected office began as a member of New Haven's Board of Aldermen, and then, for the past 20 years, she was a senator for the 10th District.

As a state senator, she co-chaired the Achievement Gap Task Force, created to address disparity in educational access and performance. She also played a pivotal role in passing Connecticut's new law to address gun violence prevention and children's safety. She was co-chair of the Mental Health Services Working Group, making recommendations built into the new law about providing mental health first aid services and taking advantage of enhanced behavioral health screening opportunities.

Harp has lived in New Haven for more than 40 years--for more than half that time she was the homeless service director at the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center.