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John C. Brittain to be honored (Released: 10/7/99)

by Allison Thompson, Office of University Communications

HARTFORD, Conn. -- During a 22-year career at the University of Connecticut School of Law, John C. Brittain's influence was felt throughout the campus and the community. Now, two months after he left the University to become dean of Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, Brittain is returning to Hartford to be honored for his efforts here.

On Oct. 12, Brittain will receive the Distinguished Service Award at the annual meeting and dinner of the University of Connecticut Law School Alumni Association.

Brittain, who joined the law school in 1977, is well-known throughout the state for his work on the Sheff v. O'Neill lawsuit to end segregation in Hartford's public schools. The suit, first filed in 1989, alleges that racial segregation in the city's public schools violates the state constitution. In a 1996 ruling, the Connecticut Supreme Court found that the high percentage of African-American and Hispanic students in the school district could amount to a violation of segregation laws. The court ordered the state to desegregate.

While at the University of Connecticut, Brittain also served as president of the National Lawyers Guild, a group dedicated to the proposition that human rights are superior to property rights. During his two-year term as president of the 10,500-member organization, Brittain strove to help the Guild fight against the repression of under-represented minorities.

Brittain, who received his law degree from Howard University in 1969, worked as a civil rights attorney in Mississippi where he was on a team of lawyers that won the first school desegregation case in the state. Brittain was in private practice in San Francisco before joining the law school faculty.

Brittain's quest for human rights has taken him around the globe. Shortly after the coup d'etat in Haiti in 1991, Brittain accompanied former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark to the island to investigate human rights conditions. Brittain has also investigated conditions in Northern Ireland, Israel and the Palestine territories, Nicaragua, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

In addition to the award, a scholarship fund in Brittain's name also will be announced at the dinner. The John C. Brittain Scholarship Fund has been established by Brittain's friends and colleagues to honor him for his years of service to the law school, the Hartford community and the state of Connecticut. The Brittain Scholarship will provide assistance for a first-year law student, preferably from a disadvantaged background.

Also during the dinner, Daniel F. Flynn, a 1962 honors graduate of the law school, will receive the Distinguished Graduate Award. Flynn worked on the Connecticut Law Review and was the first School of Law student to receive Best Oral Argument recognition in a regional moot court competition.

Flynn is currently managing director of Resources Management Group, where he oversees diversified assets. Flynn joined the organization in 1970 as chief operating officer. In addition, he is chairman of the John G. Martin Foundation, a trustee and executive committee member for the Horace Bushnell Memorial Hall Corp., a corporator for St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center, and a past president of the University of Connecticut Law School Foundation.

Flynn is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Law, and Who's Who in Finance and Industry.

The dinner will be held at the Hartford Golf Club, 134 Norwood Road, in West Hartford. Cocktails will be served at 6 p.m., and dinner will begin at 7:15 p.m.