September 17, 2019
University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law alumna Carmen-Nicole Cox ’11 will receive the American Inns of Court’s 2019 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service.
Fellow McGeorge alumna Judge Consuelo “Connie” Callahan ’75 of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will present the award at an Oct. 26 celebration at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., hosted by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch. The award honors an American Inn of Court member in practice for 10 years or less for excellence in public interest and pro bono activities.
“When I use my skills and talents for the benefit of others, I feel that I am playing a small part in facilitating a fundamental premise of our representative democracy — liberty and justice for all,” wrote Cox in a statement to the awards committee. “In my mind, ‘all’ includes marginalized populations, students at Title I schools, women and children, and even felons.”
Cox, who will return to McGeorge in 2020 to teach a course on race, mass incarceration and criminal justice, is the chief of legislative affairs for administration at the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. She writes legislative proposals, analyzes pending legislation, negotiates amendments and provides policy recommendations. In 2018 for the Government Alliance on Racial Equity, Cox co-authored a draft action plan to ensure gender and racial equity in the department’s employment practices. Previously as former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s deputy legal affairs secretary, Cox helped to advance the governor’s historic criminal justice reform by advising him on clemency and parole decisions.
She had a civil litigation career before pursuing criminal justice reform in 2015.
The American Inns of Court is a group of people in the legal community who come together to promote the rule of law by achieving exceptional professionalism through example, education and mentoring. Cox is an associate member of the Anthony M. Kennedy American Inn of Court.