Rutgers Law School - Newark Alumni Association Annual Gala 2018

6:00 PM - 10:00 PM


Distinguished Alumni/ae Awards

Okianer Christian Dark '79

Professor of Law and Associate Provost, Howard University

Okianer Christian Dark, Esq., is presently Associate Provost for Faculty Development in the Office of the Provost at Howard University and Professor of Law. In her role as Associate Provost, she established the Office of Faculty Development (OFD) in 2015 to provide oversight of and programming for the ongoing professional development of faculty at all ranks throughout the University and in all 13 Schools and Colleges. The OFD has established a Summer Academy for Junior Faculty, a monthly Junior Faculty Forum Series, monthly Scholarly Productions Workshops for all faculty, accountability groups to promote scholarly productivity, and a Chairs Leadership Academy for new chairs, associate chairs, assistant and associate deans.

Prior to her appointment as Associate Provost, she was Interim Dean of the Howard University School of Law, 2012-2014, and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs 2005-2012. As Interim Dean and Associate Dean, she supported the expansion of the live clinical programs and externship opportunities for law students, helped to establish the Fair Housing Clinic, expanded the externship program, expanded the environmental law and health law course offerings, expanded course work in the financial markets, created a mini-course program to expose law students to cutting-edge contemporary topics, created a mentor program that included all non-tenured faculty, and promoted the adoption of more varied courses to develop practice skills, as well as provided ongoing professional development particularly directed at staff, and adjunct faculty.

Professor Dark started her career a law professor at the T.C. Williams School of Law, University of Richmond, in Richmond, VA where she was the first African American tenured at the law school and the first African American woman tenured at the University. She is an expert in Torts (civil law), Products Liability, Health Law and Antitrust and Trade Restraints. Her research and publications are primarily in two areas. First, she identifies and examines legal doctrines in Torts that are especially burdensome for vulnerable populations like children and the mentally disabled. Second, she publishes critiques on the delivery of legal education in the United States today, with specific attention on incorporating diversity into teaching law. During her years as a law professor, she has been the recipient of several awards for excellence in teaching.

Her work in the health law field includes being a founding member of the Northwest Health Foundation in Portland, Oregon to provide ongoing support to low income persons in Oregon and Southwest Washington. In Montgomery County MD she was Chair of the Montgomery County Commission on Health and a founding member of the Advisory Committee that established the Montgomery Cares Program, a public/private partnership of a network of health clinics that provide primary health care to low-income adults in Montgomery County. She served on the Advisory Committee for 8 years leading the Committee on Specialty Care services. She is a frequent guest lecturer at the Howard University College of Medicine on Health Law for the required Ethics course for students in the Medicine, Nursing, Allied Health, Pharmacy and Dentistry.

Associate Provost Dark is also well known within the Fair Housing community and is featured in an award-winning video titled Housing Discrimination: Who Should Have to Get Use to It which is used nationally by federal and state governmental agencies, housing advocates and law schools. She served as a Commissioner on the National Commission on Fair Housing and Opportunity that issued a report to the Obama Administration on ways to address housing discrimination by the government with attention on the housing foreclosure crisis.

In the legal academy, she has held leadership positions as Board member, and Committee Chair of the Minority Affairs Committees on the Law School Admission Council, Chair of the Section on Women in Legal Education for the Association of American Law Schools, member of the Torts, Health Law and Litigation sections of the the American Bar Association and Board Member of the Society of American Law Teachers.

After graduating from Law School, she was an honors program graduate with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice where she was on the trial team for United States v. AT&T. She was also a special United States Attorney in the District of Columbia’s Office of the United States Attorney where she prosecuted criminal cases in the District of Columbia, and as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Office of the Attorney General in the District of Oregon where she handled affirmative civil rights cases and established the Community Relations Unit for that office to focus on Domestic Violence, Hate Crimes and Environmental Justice. She supervised asbestos cases in three states in the Civil Division of the Justice Department. She has an extensive litigation background over eleven years.

Professor Dark is the recipient of many awards for her work as a litigator, an educator (several awards as Teacher of the Year or distinguished educator) and for community service at the federal and local levels. She is very active in her community presently serving as a Commissioner on the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission and a board member of the Community Foundation for Montgomery County. She is a past president of the Silver Spring Chapter of the Links.

Associate Provost Dark received her B.A. magna cum laude from Upsala College, East Orange, N.J. and her Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers-Newark University School of Law, Newark, N.J. where she was the recipient of the Alumni Senior Prize (graduating senior exhibiting highest achievement in law school and potential for success in the legal profession). She is a member of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Bars.

Dennis J. Drasco ‘73

Partner, Lum, Drasco & Positan LLC

Dennis J. Drasco is Chair of the Litigation Group at Lum, Drasco & Positan LLC in Roseland.  He concentrates his practice to the trial of complex commercial, construction, condemnation, insurance, legal and medical malpractice cases in Federal and State Court in New Jersey and New York and the mediation and arbitration of those cases in ADR forums.

He is admitted to practice in New Jersey, New York, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the United States Tax Court, the Second and Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

He is a Certified Civil Trial Attorney in New Jersey.  He is a New Jersey Court Approved Mediator.  He is a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, having served in that capacity since 2003.  He is Past Chair of the ABA Section of Litigation (2004-2005). The Section of Litigation is the largest Section in the ABA with over 70,000 members.  He is Past Chair of the ABA Commission on The American Jury and served on numerous ABA Committees including the Standing Committee on Judicial Independence, the Coalition for Justice and the Standing Committee on Medical Professional Liability.

He is also Past President of the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey.  In 2000, he received the Essex County Bar Association's Civil Trial Attorney Achievement Award.  In 2006 he received a Professional Lawyer of the Year Award by the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law and in 2009 he received the Walter A. Lucas Special Merit Award by the Essex County Bar Association.

He is currently Chair of the Essex County Bar Association's Judicial Selection Committee and Past Chair of its Joint Medical-Legal Committee and Annual Conference.   He served on the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2006-2011) and as a Member of the N.J. Supreme Court Committee on Jury Selection since 2007. 

He was a Master in the Seton Hall Law School Inn of Court.  He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, American College of Trial Lawyers, International Academy of Trial Lawyers, Litigation Council of America and the American Bar Association Section of Litigation.  He has served on many civic and charitable boards, including the United Way of North Essex and the Essex County Legal Service Foundation, where he is immediate past President.

He has written numerous articles and appeared on numerous CLE panels for the American Bar Association, New Jersey State Bar Association, Essex County Bar Association, and Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey, on a variety of issues including Trial Practice, Federal Practice, Commercial Litigation, Construction Law, Condemnation Law, Arbitration and Mediation.

He is a graduate of Fordham College in New York and Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey.

Hon. Barry Ted Moskowitz ‘75

Chief Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California

Hon. Barry Ted Moskowitz has presided as the Chief Judge of the Southern District of California since January 2012. He served as a United States Magistrate Judge from September 1986 to December 1995 and was appointed as a District Judge for the Southern District of California by President Clinton and sworn in on January 2, 1996. Judge Moskowitz graduated with Highest Honors from Rutgers College and with High Honors from Rutgers University Law School.

In 1975 and 1976, Judge Moskowitz served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Leonard I. Garth, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. After his clerkship, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in New Jersey from 1976 to 1982. He also served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law (1980-81) and at Rutgers Law School (1981-84).

After leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey, he practiced commercial and banking litigation with the Wayne, New Jersey firm of Williams, Caliri, Miller and Otley. In 1985, he moved to San Diego and became the Chief of the Financial Investigations and Forfeitures Unit with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California. From 2004 to 2010, Judge Moskowitz was a member of the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on Defender Services and the Ninth Circuit Standing Committee on the Appointment of Federal Defenders. He was also a member of the Ninth Circuit Capital Case Committee for 15 years.

Judge Moskowitz was honored to receive the American Bar Association's Service to the Judiciary Award on February 5, 2016 and the San Diego County Bar Association’s Outstanding Jurist Award on May 1, 2017. Judge Moskowitz attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 10, 2018, where the new federal child care center was announced as the “Barry Ted Moskowitz Child Care Center.”

He has been volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul homeless shelter, part of Father Joe's Villages for 30 years.



The Fannie Bear Besser Award For Public Service 

Hon. Mary Catherine Cuff ‘73

Presiding Judge, App. Div., and Acting Justice, Supreme Court (Retired)

Hon. Mary Catherine Cuff served as a Judge of the Superior Court from 1988 to 2016. During her judicial service, she served as a civil and family division trial judge, until her elevation to the Appellate Division of Superior Court in September 1994. Judge Cuff served on the Appellate Division until her temporary assignment to the Supreme Court of New Jersey in October 2012. She retired at the conclusion of her temporary assignment.

Judge Cuff graduated from Rosemont College and Rutgers University School of Law. She served as President of the Alumni Association for four years and a trustee of the college for nine years.

Following graduation from Rutgers, she clerked on the Appellate Division of Superior Court for Judge Robert A. Matthews, also a Rutgers graduate. Judge Cuff joined the Division of Law of the New Jersey Attorney General’s office as a deputy attorney general from 1974 to 1974 and also served as a Special Assistant to the State Treasurer from 1977 to 78.

Judge Cuff served as a Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Civil Division from 1978 to 1986. She concluded her service as Chief of the Civil Division. She practiced law with Waters McPherson & McNeill and served as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall School of Law until her appointment to the bench.

During her time on the bench, Judge Cuff served on several Supreme Court Committees and chaired the Advisory Committee on Public Access to Court Records from 2009 to 2012 and the Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Education from 2006 to 2016. She is also a charter member and past President of the Haydn Proctor Inn of Court.

Judge Cuff recently joined the Board of Directors of Centurion Ministries, an innocence project based on Princeton, NJ and serves on the Legal Education and Alternative Dispute Resolution Committees of the Monmouth Bar Association.


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Hon. Mary Catherine Cuff & William J. Wolf


The Family of Dark and Christian