Michael J. Quinn '80 was presented with the Award for Distinguished Service by Attorney General Eric Holder at the Justice Department's 58th Annual Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C., on October 27, 2010. The Award for Distinguished Service is the second highest award that the Attorney General can give. Quinn is a trial attorney in the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice. He and four of his colleagues were recognized for their work forging the $3.4 billion settlement of the Cobell v. Salazar case, possibly the largest class action ever asserted against the federal government.
Filed in 1996, the case has had five trials and ten appeals. The dispute concerns trust responsibilities of the Department of the Interior for funds and land it has held for almost half a million Native Americans dating back to the 1880s. Congress passed legislation that authorized the settlement last year, and on December 8, President Obama signed the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 at a ceremony that Quinn attended.
Quinn graduated with a degree in economics from Hamilton. He received his juris doctor from the University of Pennsylvania in 1985 and his master of business administration in finance from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Silver Spring, Md, with his wife and two children.