Late last week, the D.C. legal community and the nation’s civil rights bar lost a modern-day giant in the struggle for equality and opportunity. John A. Payton, the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and a tireless advocate for civil rights, died last Thursday after a brief illness. Prior to joining the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 2008, John was, for several decades, a partner at Wilmer Hale; he took leave from the firm to serve as the District’s Corporation Counsel from 1991 to 1994, and was also President of the D.C. Bar from 2001 to 2002. Legal Aid extends its deepest condolences to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund staff and board, and to John’s wife, Gay McDougall, a human rights activist and his partner in the ongoing fight for justice. As an alumnus of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, I am particularly saddened by this news and know how sorely John will be missed. Legal Aid intends to have a moment of silence to remember both John Payton and Tim May – true servants of justice both – at our Servant of Justice Dinner, scheduled for April 26, 2012 at the JW Marriot.