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South African Justice To Speak at Penn Law Commencement

April 22, 2009

Jennifer Yvonne Mokgoro, a justice on the Constitutional Court of South Africa and a 1990 master’s degree graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, will speak at Penn Law’s commencement on May 18.

“Justice Mokgoro is a distinguished international jurist who has been at the forefront of building the new South Africa,” said Penn Law Dean Michael A. Fitts.  “She was appointed to the Constitutional Court by Nelson Mandela and she has been a persuasive defender of the country’s civil liberties. Justice Mokgoro is the author of many ground-breaking opinions, including one that abolished the death penalty in South Africa.”
Prior to becoming a justice, Mokgoro’s work had far-reaching influence in human rights, women’s rights and customary law, before South Africa’s transformation to democracy began.  She has taught at a number of universities in South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Netherlands.
Just last year, she told law graduates at the University of Pretoria in South Africa that, “the role and function of a lawyer now, more than ever before, extends beyond criminal justice, and even beyond the court room itself. The Constitution mandates a human rights approach to all the challenges in our society.” 
Justice Mokgoro will receive an honorary degree from the University of Pennsylvania as part of the University’s commencement at Franklin Field. The Law School commencement ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. on May 18 at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music.
Members of Penn Law’s JD Class of 2009 come from 33 states, the District of Columbia and nine foreign countries. Master’s degrees will be awarded to students from 29 different nations.


A portrait of South African Justice Jennifer Yvonne Mokgoro, a 1990 graduate of Penn Law, hangs in the Law School.