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Wayne Law Professor Hammer Named Director of Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights

August 19, 2009

DETROIT (Aug. 19, 2009) – Wayne State University Law School is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Peter Hammer as the first Director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. The Keith Center honors the life and civil rights legacy of Judge Damon J. Keith and carries that vision into the future through active programs of legal studies and community engagement. As director, Professor Hammer will be responsible for initiating and continuing an array of programs, including the Damon J. Keith Collection of African American Legal History and the Keith Biennial Lecture. 

Judge Keith’s life has been dedicated to fighting for justice and opportunity. The Keith Center, made possible through generous gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations, will allow that work to continue at Wayne Law. The Center will help the Law School attract and retain outstanding students, support and strengthen its faculty, enhance programming, and promote civil rights in one of the most culturally rich and diverse cities in the United States.

With groundbreaking for the building that will house the Center expected in the next year, the Law School is already moving forward on a number of initiatives thanks to more than $2.5 million in endowment for programming alone. The Law School recently announced the appointment of its first Damon J. Keith Distinguished Visiting Professor. In conjunction with Wayne Law’s clinical program (under the direction of Professor David Moss), the Keith Center is also mapping out strategies to enhance clinical and community outreach in fields such as disability rights, small business and non-profit development, environmental justice, immigration and refugee law, child advocacy and criminal justice.

The Keith Center building itself will feature more than 10,000 square feet, meeting space, conference reception space, and facilities tailored to the needs of students and faculty.

“Professor Hammer has been instrumental in the progression of the Keith Center,” said Wayne Law Dean Robert M. Ackerman. “Last summer, Professor Hammer agreed to chair a committee that developed the Keith Center program, and shepherded it through the university approval process. Judge Keith and I are confident that Professor Hammer will provide imaginative, energetic leadership to this exciting new venture.”

Professor Peter Hammer, editor of the recently published Living on the Margins: Minorities and Borderlines in Cambodia and Southeast Asia (2009), has served on the Wayne Law faculty since 2003 and has been instrumental in the redesign of the Law School’s growing Health Law curriculum. In addition to Contracts in the first-year curriculum, he teaches Health Care Quality, Licensing & Liability; Health Care Organization & Finance; International Organizations & Public Health; and Health Policy: The Firm, The Market & The Law.

In 2007, he served as a visiting professor at the Center for Khmer Studies, teaching in their Capacity Building in Cambodian Higher Education program focusing on Cambodia at the Margins: Minority Groups and Borderlines. The recipient of two research grants from the Center, Hammer was a founding board member and past-president of Legal Aid of Cambodia, a non-profit, non-governmental organization providing free legal services to Cambodia’s poor. At the University of Michigan Law School, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor at the School of Public Health in the Department of Health Management and Policy, he founded and directed the School’s Program for Cambodian Law & Development. He is also presently a Board Member of the Life & Hope Association, an organization in Siem Reap, Cambodia, run by Buddhist monks to address the needs of orphans and vulnerable children.

Prior to entering academia, Hammer was an associate at the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny & Myers, where he maintained an active practice in antitrust, health law and the presentation of expert economic testimony. Before entering private practice, he clerked for the Honorable Alfred T. Goodwin, former Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Hammer earned his J.D. and Ph.D. (in economics) from the University of Michigan. He is a recipient of an Investigator Award in Health Policy Research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and served as lead editor for “Uncertain Times: Kenneth Arrow and the Changing Economics of Health Care,” a book published by Duke University Press (2003).

The Hon. Damon J. Keith was appointed to serve as a United States Court of Appeals Judge for the Sixth Circuit in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter. Prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeals, he was a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan from 1967 to 1977, where he served as Chief Judge from 1975 until he was elevated to the Court of Appeals.

As a member of the federal bench, Judge Keith has consistently been a defender of the constitutional and civil rights of all people. He presided over many landmark cases, most notably United States v. Sinclair, which is referred to as the Keith Decision. In that decision, Judge Keith ruled that President Nixon and the federal government were prohibited from engaging in warrantless wiretapping because it violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Judge Keith’s decision.

About Wayne Law
Wayne State University Law School has educated and served the Detroit metropolitan area since its inception as Detroit City Law School in 1927. Located at 471 West Palmer Street in Detroit’s re-energized historic cultural center, the Law School remains committed to student success and features modern lecture and court facilities, multi-media and distance learning classrooms, a 250-seat auditorium, and the Arthur Neef Law Library, which houses one of the nation's 40 largest legal collections. Taught by an internationally recognized and expert faculty, Wayne Law students experience a high-quality legal education via a growing array of hands-on curricular offerings, client clinics, and access to well over 100 internships with local and non-profit entities each year. Its 11,000 living alumni, who work in every state of the nation and more than a dozen foreign countries, are experts in their disciplines and include leading members of the local, national and international legal communities. For more information, visit www.law.wayne.edu.

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