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Law alumnus receives Loyola’s highest alumni honor

Loyola press release - May 11, 2009

Loyola University New Orleans Alumni Association bestowed its highest honor to Samuel Dalton, L’54, an attorney who has advocated for the poor for more than half a century. Dalton received the Adjutor Hominum Award during Loyola’s 2009 Reunion Weekend alumni luncheon on Sunday, May 10.

The Alumni Association annually presents the Adjutor Hominum Award to an outstanding alumnus whose life exemplifies the characteristics that Loyola seeks to form in its graduates: moral character, service to humanity and unquestionable integrity.

Dalton, a leader in pro bono law practice in Louisiana, has been devoted to helping the less fortunate in the field of criminal defense and is best known for his expertise in death penalty cases, both for trial and appeal, including post-conviction relief for death row inmates.

“I’ve been astounded ever since I received the letter from Fr. Wildes that I was selected to receive this award,” said Dalton. “I am somewhat surprised that you get an award for what you should be doing as a lawyer. I am very grateful and honored that Loyola thinks I am worthy of such an honor.”

In 1976, Dalton became the first chairman of the 24th Judicial District Indigent Defender Board, which came to be known locally by prosecutors as the “defense machine.” In 1978, he helped form the Jefferson Parish Criminal Bar Association and served as its president for three consecutive terms.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers presented Dalton with the President’s Commendation award in 1987 to recognize his outstanding service and dedication to the fair administration of criminal justice.

In 1988, he received the Louisiana Bar Association’s Pro Bono Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1990, he was appointed chairman of a committee established by the state Supreme Court to study Louisiana’s indigent defense system. He received the Benjamin E. Smith Award from the American Civil Liberties Union in 1992 for his dedication to the protection of Civil Rights. In 1994, Loyola University bestowed an honorary doctorate of laws degree to Dalton.

The Samuel S. Dalton Scholarship fund was created in 1993 in his name to honor him as a courageous lawyer, community servant and Loyola alumnus. This partial scholarship is awarded annually to the Loyola law student best demonstrating Dalton's commitment to community service and, in particular, advocacy to the poor involved in the criminal justice system.