- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2006

Jerris Leonard, longtime D.C. lawyer and assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Nixon administration, died July 27 while recovering from treatment for liver cancer at Sibley Memorial Hospital in the District. He was 75.

Mr. Leonard was born in Chicago and received a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University in 1952. He graduated from the Marquette University School of Law in 1955 and lived in the D.C. area for 37 years.

Mr. Leonard was first elected to the Wisconsin Legislature at the age of 25.

In 1960, he was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate and served as majority leader from 1967 to 1968.

In 1968, Mr. Leonard was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate but was defeated by Gaylord Nelson. He was appointed by President Nixon in 1969 to serve as an assistant U.S. attorney general in the Department of Justice.

Mr. Leonard headed the department’s Civil Rights Division, where he aided in the desegregation of schools in the South, and later was appointed by the president to be the administrator of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.

Since leaving the Justice Department in 1973, Mr. Leonard worked for various law and lobbying firms, most recently Foley & Lardner LLP until last year, and then at the Leonard Group LLP.

Mr. Leonard also served on the Bush-Cheney Transition Department of Justice Advisory Committee and made five appearances before the U.S. Supreme Court.

While in private legal practice, Mr. Leonard represented Muhammad Ali in the boxer’s claim against the U.S. for wrongful conviction on draft dodging. Mr. Leonard also was legal counsel for George Bush, who at the time was Republican National Committee chairman.

Mr. Leonard was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Marquette University School of Law in 2000.

Mr. Leonard’s survivors include his wife of 52 years, Mariellen Mathie Leonard of Bethesda; four sons, Gib Leonard of Bethesda, John E. Leonard of Virginia Beach, Francis X. Leonard of Gainesville, Va., and Daniel J. Leonard of Falls Church; two daughters, Mary Alice Leonard Ralston of Clifton, Va. and Kathleen Ann Leonard of the District; and 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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