WASHINGTON – Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey today awarded the high honor of the Attorney General’s Medallion to Lawrence Baca, former Deputy Director of the Department’s Office of Tribal Justice, for his dedicated service related to the Civil Rights of American Indians.
The Attorney General's Medallion is awarded at the Attorney General’s discretion to recognize Department of Justice employees and other individuals for outstanding contributions to the accomplishment of the Department's mission.
Mr. Baca’s career at the Department spans more than 30 years, and in that time he led several groundbreaking cases involving Indian and tribal issues. These include the first ever suit filed by the Department to enforce American Indians’ right to run for elected office, and the landmark case in which a federal court guaranteed Indians living on Reservations the right to equal educational opportunities based upon their citizenship in the states where they reside.
“The Attorney General’s Medallion was created to honor professionals like Lawrence Baca, who make outstanding contributions to the Department,” said Attorney General Mukasey. “Mr. Baca's efforts on behalf of the civil rights of American Indians, and his long standing dedication to recruiting Native American lawyers to the Department, exemplify the outstanding service defined by this award.”
Mr. Baca came to the Department after graduating from Harvard law school in 1976 as the first American Indian (Pawnee) ever hired through the Attorney General’s Honor Law Program, and was also the first American Indian hired for the Civil Rights Division. Prior to his role in the Office of Tribal Justice, Mr. Baca served as a senior Trial Attorney in the Department’s Civil Rights Division. Within the Civil Rights Division, he has worked in the Office of Indian Rights (1976-1980); the General Litigation Section (1980-1983); the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section (1983-1989); and the Educational Opportunities Section (1989-2003).
Beyond the Department, Mr. Baca’s extensive leadership experience includes 22 years on the Board of Directors of the National Native American Bar Association, including three terms as president; three years as Chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession; and 15 years as Chair of the Federal Bar Association (FBA), Indian Law Section. In 2009, he will become the first American Indian president of the FBA.
For more information on the Department’s Civil Rights Division, visit http://www.usdoj.gov/crt and for information on the Office of Tribal Justice, visit http://www.usdoj.gov/otj.