Judge Mark J. Kappelhoff was appointed to the 4th Judicial Circuit in Hennepin County, Minnesota by Governor Mark Dayton in 2016. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School. His areas of expertise are criminal law, police accountability and reform, criminal procedure, civil rights, and human trafficking. While at the Law School, he directed the Criminal Justice Clinic and the Minnesota Law Public Interest Residency Program, taught a seminar course on human trafficking, and spoke and consulted regularly on issues related to the criminal justice system, police accountability, and civil rights laws.
Judge Kapplehoff also served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. In this position, he was in charge of the Division’s enforcement efforts related to policing practices, human trafficking, and hate crimes. Among his many responsibilities, he oversaw the Department’s criminal and civil police investigations in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, and other police departments around the country. He played a key role in the Justice Department’s police accountability and criminal justice reform efforts. And, he supervised the federal hate crime investigation into the shooting at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Judge Kappelhoff joined the Law School faculty in 2012 after a distinguished 14-year career as a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice. During his tenure at DOJ, Judge Kappelhoff served in a number of senior leadership positions, including the Chief of the Criminal Section and Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. During his career, he prosecuted and supervised some of the nation’s highest-profile criminal civil rights cases, including the federal investigation into widespread corruption involving the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department and the prosecution of the largest human trafficking cases ever brought by the Department. He also played an instrumental role in the Department’s efforts to secure passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, co-chaired the Attorney General’s Advisory Group on racial disparities in federal sentencing, and created the Civil Rights Division’s groundbreaking Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.
Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Judge Kappelhoff was an assistant public defender for Montgomery County, Md., where he represented adult and juvenile clients charged with felony and capital criminal offenses. A 1983 graduate of St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., Professor Kappelhoff received his J.D. in 1988 from American University, Washington College of Law, where he was a member of the American University Law Review. In addition to his current teaching position, he has been an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Law; Georgetown University Law Center; and American University, Washington College of Law.
Kappelhoff has received a number of honors for his work as a federal prosecutor. In 2015, he received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service—the Department’s highest award for employees—for his work on the Ferguson Police Department investigation. Other honors include the 2011 Presidential Rank Award (the highest annual award for federal government career senior executive service professionals), the 2010 Attorney General’s John Marshall Award (for his efforts to secure passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act), the Civil Rights Division’s Meritorious Award and Special Achievement Award, and the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys’ Director’s Award for Superior Performance.