WSU Law professor honored for book on judge


Wayne State University Law School Professor Peter J. Hammer was honored by the Historical Society of the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for his work on a book about Judge Damon J. Keith.

Hammer and journalist Trevor Coleman received the Avern Cohn Award for Excellence in Collection, Preservation and Interpretation of Michigan Legal History for the book, Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith, published by Wayne State University Press.

The award was presented this month at the FBA chapter holiday party at the Westin Book Cadillac.

In addition, retired history teacher Jim McConnell, founder of the Michigan Council for History Education, working with Hammer and Coleman, has led a team of educators developing lesson plans to accompany the book for high school teachers wishing to use it in their curriculum.

The eight lessons, created by a group of four social studies teachers from the Detroit area, will be available in January on the website of Wayne Law’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights,

In the book, Hammer and Coleman present the first-ever biography of Keith, surveying his education, important influences, major cases, and professional and personal commitments.

Keith was appointed to the federal bench in 1967 and has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit since 1977, where he has been a defender of civil and constitutional rights and a vigorous enforcer of civil rights law.

Hammer is director of the Keith Center and an expert in the fields of domestic health law and policy, as well as international public health and economic development.

Coleman is a national award-winning journalist, who has been an editorial writer and columnist for the Detroit Free Press.

He was chief speechwriter for former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and director of communications for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.