January 22, 2009 — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. will headline the 10th Annual Conference on Public Service and the Law, to be held Jan. 30 and 31 at the University of Virginia School of Law.
Alito will deliver the keynote address Jan. 31 at 11:30 a.m. in the Law School's Caplin Auditorium.
The conference will open Friday at 3 p.m. with remarks from U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello. That will be followed by a panel discussion on exonerations featuring best-selling author and Innocence Project board member John Grisham, along with Craig Watkins, pioneering district attorney and creator of the Dallas (Tex.) County Conviction Integrity Unit, which oversees DNA reviews that have led to a string of exonerations. Friday evening will feature an address by Alan Morrison, co-founder and longtime director of Public Citizen Litigation Group, one of the most experienced public-interest litigators in the nation.
The student-run conference, which has hosted more than 1,900 participants and 300 panelists since its inception in 2000, gathers nationally prominent legal scholars and practitioners for moderated discussions on critical issues in public interest law as well as career-guidance workshops. The conference is free and open to the public, but pre-event registration is encouraged.
The newest member of the Supreme Court, Alito was confirmed as an associate justice in January 2006 after serving for more than 15 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He replaced former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to become the 110th justice.
Prior to his appointment to the appeals court, Alito served as U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, where he was best known for prosecuting white-collar and environmental crimes, drug trafficking, organized crime and violations of civil rights. From 1985 to 1987, he served as U.S. deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, where he provided constitutional advice for the executive branch. From 1981 to 1985, he served as assistant to the solicitor general, arguing 12 cases on behalf of the federal government in the Supreme Court and at least two dozen others before federal courts of appeals.
Saturday's schedule, in addition to Alito's keynote address, features panel discussions covering topics such as the election law implications of the recent campaign, predatory lending and the foreclosure crisis, the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Iraq and urban education reform.
Past keynote speakers at the conference have included Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, U.S. Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy (a 1959 graduate of the U.Va. Law school), American Civil Liberties Union president Nadine Strossen, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and Arizona Gov. and Secretary-designate of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (a 1983 Law School graduate).