Rutgers Law School - Newark Alumni Association Annual Gala 2021

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021
6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
MAPLEWOOD COUNTRY CLUB
MAPLEWOOD, NJ

COCKTAIL RECEPTION FOLLOWED BY A SEATED DINNER AND AWARDS CEREMONY

Honorees

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Hymie Elhai '02

Hymie Elhai begins his second season as the president of the New York Jets after his appointment by Chairman & CEO Christopher Johnson in 2019. Now in his 21st year with the organization, Elhai has ascended to his role as a result of hard work, dedication and a commitment to the New York Jets. Overseeing all team business operations, Elhai brings his balance and perspective to those various departments, including Communications, Community Relations, Corporate & Premium Partnerships, Events & Game Operations, Facilities, Finance, Information Technology, Legal & Human Resources, Marketing, Security and Ticketing.

"For over 20 years Hymie has developed a deep level of respect from both sides of the building," said Johnson. Specifically, I witnessed first-hand, his leadership, communication and organizational acumen."

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Elhai and his staff have worked closely with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's office and the NFL to develop the proper protocols for the Jets. His communication with staff helped manage the unprecedented uncertainty of a global pandemic.

Beginning his Jets career in 2000 as an intern, Elhai previously served as the club's senior vice president, business affairs and general counsel where he was responsible for all legal aspects of the team, including sponsorship, licensing, event, digital media, production and broadcasting agreements, and all employment related matters. Additionally, Elhai provided counsel and guidance to football administration on all planning initiatives prior to his current role.

Born in Queens, NY, Elhai grew up a Jets fan, attending games at Shea Stadium. Those roots run deep in Elhai who is driven to bring success to the Jets, not just for the organization, but for the fans.

"I have a deep appreciation and respect for this franchise and for what it means to our fans," Elhai stated after his appointment.

A Sports Business Journal "Forty Under 40" honoree, Elhai is a graduate of Rutgers Law School and The Johns Hopkins University, where he played football and baseball. Elhai resides in Hoboken, NJ.

Charles Victor McTeer '72

Within a few years of his birth in 1948, Victor McTeer became a likely ward of the State of Maryland after both of his parents died unexpectedly. He was rescued from orphanhood when a great aunt and her long time friend took him in despite suggestions of acquaintances and strangers alike that two older women could not raise an infant boy to manhood by themselves. Instead, Marie Pettigrew, a private duty nurse and Evangeline Mitchell, a public school teacher in the segregated Baltimore Public School system made Victor the only child in the block with two mothers. Meanwhile, they called upon their families, friends and neighbors, to expose their son to competitive athletics, camping and male role models. By his graduation from Baltimore’s Forest Park High School in June 1965, Victor had done well enough to win a full scholarship and play college football as one of the first African-Americans to attend Western Maryland College in Westminister, Maryland. Unfortunately, Victor and the women who him raised had no idea of the turmoil the naïve, outspoken sixteen year old would face as a student living on a residential campus in rural, segregated, Klan infested, and ultra-conservative Carroll County, Maryland, 40 miles away from the neighborhood and family that raised him in Northwest Baltimore.

At Western Maryland, Victor soon discovered a toxic, hostile racial environment, often filled with traditional white perceptions of generational racial superiority, preference and entitlement. But in time, with the help of a positive attitude and friends that he began to meet on campus, Victor learned to receive the experience as a daily learning opportunity. After spending four years learning to survive on the overwhelmingly white campus during the turbulent mid-1960s, Victor was determined to find a career protecting victims of racial discrimination and bias not unlike himself. But no one expected that Victor, a Small College All-American football player with a BA degree in History and Political Science, would leave Maryland within a week of his graduation in June 1969, to find his life’s work living and working with poor people as a civil rights worker in the Mississippi Delta. In the Summer of 1972, Victor earned a Juris Doctorate Degree from Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey and returned to Maryland to marry his oldest friend, Mercidees “Dee Dee” Jones, a Baltimore school teacher who agreed to go upon a single condition—they would only spend two years together in Mississippi before returning home to Maryland. They married in Baltimore on a Saturday and left the following Tuesday to travel to their new home in Mound Bayou, Mississippi the oldest community in America founded by formerly enslaved people. It was the only place in Mississippi where Victor believed they could safely live while he became a Mississippi civil rights lawyer and Dee Dee could fulfill her lifelong dream of teaching in a first grade classroom.

For the next thirty-eight years, Victor represented hundreds of people in civil rights cases involving Constitutional Law, the rights of women, employment discrimination, public accommodations, and police brutality. From the very beginning, Victor was involved in unique and unusual cases rarely handled by such a young and inexperienced lawyer. He was only twenty-seven years old and not yet four years out of law school when his very first case was heard in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of an otherwise qualified black woman denied a teaching job because she bore a child out wedlock as a teenager. Despite all odds, he argued the case and won. Later, Victor represented clients in Chattanooga, Tennessee and won an unheard of $500,000 federal jury verdict against the Ku Klux Klan. In the 1980s, he was part of a legal team that won millions for black insureds in a racial bias claim against an insurance company. In time, he gained a special reputation as a trial lawyer who was part of the legal team that successfully pursued a first of a kind anti-smoking claims against the tobacco industry that resulted in one of the largest legal settlements in history.

He has long been lauded for annually providing required continuing legal education to lawyers on diverse topics including civil rights, constitutional law, civil trial practice, computers and the law and legal ethics. In the 1990s, the Association of plaintiff lawyers of the State of Mississippi, currently known as the “Mississippi Association for Justice,” awarded Victor their "Lifetime Achievement Award." The nine Justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court gave Victor “The Chief Justice Award” for his service to the Bar and the people of the State of Mississippi. He has received awards from civil rights, and philanthropic organizations including Operation Push of Chicago, Illinois, the Mississippi State Chapter of the NAACP, and the United Negro College Fund. Dee Dee and Victor have funded individual scholarships and endowments benefitting hundreds of graduates of Alcorn State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Jackson State University and his alma mater, McDaniel College formerly known as Western Maryland College. In 2015, he was awarded the Honorary Degree of “Doctor of Laws” from McDaniel College, where he is currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Today, Victor and his wife, Mercidees “Dee Dee” McTeer are retired and reside in Sarasota, Florida. The couple are parents of two adult children, Marcus McTeer, a hotel manager who lives in the Mississippi Delta and Attorney Heather McTeer-Toney of Oxford, Mississippi, the first black and female mayor of Greenville, Mississippi, and past Regional Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency for the Southeastern United States and eight indigenous tribes appointed by President Barack Obama. She is currently Senior National Advisor of Mom’s Clean Air Force.

Hon. Victoria Pratt '98

Driven. Innovative. Inspiring. These are a few of the words used to describe Judge Victoria Pratt who has gained national and international acclaim for her commitment to reforming the criminal justice system. During her tenure as the Chief Judge in Newark Municipal Court in Newark, New Jersey, she spent years gaining a deep understanding of how justice could be delivered to court participants in a manner that increased their trust in the legal system and changed their behavior. While presiding over Newark Community Solutions, the Community Court Program, she used creative problem solving to provide alternatives to jail to low-level offenders. These alternatives included community service, individual and group counseling sessions, and her signature assignment of introspective essays. Called a pioneer in procedural justice, her respectful approach, and treating individuals with dignity has had a positive effect on court participants’ court experience, how the community viewed the court and how court players viewed their roles. Her TED Talk, How Judges Can Show Respect, has gone viral. It has been translated into 11 languages, received over one million views and the Facebook clip has received an astounding 21 million views.

A fierce advocate committed to reform, Pratt has worked with jurisdictions across the nation, and as far as Ukraine, England, Trinidad and Tobago, and Mexico. In that role she facilitates workshops and presentations on alternative sentencing for juveniles and adults, as well as procedural justice.

As a nationally recognized expert in procedural justice and alternative sentencing, Judge Pratt has been asked by numerous professional organizations to share her story and philosophy. Pratt’s work has been featured in The Guardian newspaper, The Simple Idea that Could Transform U.S. Criminal Justice, and Rutgers Magazine, Asking for a Little Respect, both written by Pulitzer prize winning author Tina Rosenberg. She has also appeared on MSNBC’s The Melissa Harris Perry Show, the Emmy-award winning PBS show Due Process — “Community Court: A Kinder, Gentler Way?” and National Public Radio’s WBGO on Conversations with Allan Wolper.

Now, a Professor at Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey, she teaches Problem Solving Justice and Restorative Justice. She also continues to champion criminal justice reform through her consulting firm Pratt Lucien Consultants, LLC, by sharing her skills and approach with others. As well as speaking to leaders of institutions and organizations about how to heighten and restore respect into their day-to-day operations so that their mission can be better achieved.

Pratt is licensed to practice law in both New Jersey and New York, and is admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. She also facilitates Mountain Movers empowerment sessions to help individuals live their best lives.

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