PORTLAND — Augusta attorney Walter McKee has been named recipient of the 2012 Justice Louis Scolnik Award.

The award, given by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine Foundation, will be presented to McKee at 7 p.m. May 3 at a ceremony at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport.

“Walt combines a passionate sense of justice with a legendary work ethic,” said Shenna Bellows, executive director of the ACLU of Maine, in a prepared statement about the award. “We are proud to recognize him for his extraordinary commitment to improving our criminal justice system.”

The Scolnik Award was established in 1989 and named for former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Louis Scolnik, a founder and the first president of the ACLU of Maine.

The award honors members of Maine’s legal community who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to the protection of civil liberties.

“I am deeply, deeply honored to receive this award,” McKee said on Monday. “I was stunned when I found out, because of the caliber of those who have received this award.”


Recent recipients include: Cushman Anthony, a family law practitioner who was the third president of the state ACLU; and Nan Heald, executive director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance.

McKee is chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and a civil liberties volunteer advocate before the Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee on criminal justice legislation.

“It takes a lot of courage to advocate for criminal justice reform,” Bellows said in the statement. “Walt’s by the book and straightforward style has made him a respected voice on issues that are often controversial.”

As an attorney, McKee has tried more than 150 criminal and civil jury trials. In 2011, he collaborated successfully with the ACLU of Maine on State of Maine v. Ronald LaPlante, a Fourth Amendment case upholding important limits on the ability of law enforcement to stop drivers.

McKee is in private practice at McKee Law in Augusta and lives in Hallowell with his wife, Kristin Aiello, who is also an attorney, and their children.

The featured speaker at the award dinner will be ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero.

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