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Albert Diaz

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Albert Diaz
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Current Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Title:   Judge
Appointed by:   Barack Obama
Active:   12/22/2010-Present
Preceded by:   William Walter Wilkins
Personal History
Born:   1960
Hometown:   Brooklyn, NY
Undergraduate:   University of Pennsylvania, 1983
Law School:   New York University Law School, 1988
Grad. School:   Boston University, 1993

Albert Diaz is an Article III federal judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He was nominated to the court by President Barack Obama. Diaz is the first Hispanic judge to serve the Fourth Circuit.[1] Diaz received his commission to serve the court on December 22, 2010.[2]


Diaz earned his undergraduate degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1983. In 1988, he received his J.D. from the New York University School of Law, and in 1993, he received his M.S. from Boston University.[2]

Professional career

  • 2005-2010: Special judge, North Carolina Business Court
  • 2005-2006: Reserve appellate military judge, U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals
  • 2001-2005: Judge, North Carolina Superior Court (first Hispanic to serve as a Superior Court judge in the state)
  • 2000-2005: Reserve military judge, U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary
  • 1995-2001: Attorney in private practice, firm of Hunton & Williams
  • 1995-2000: Reserve appellate defense counsel, Office of the Judge Advocate General, U.S. Navy
  • 1991-1995: Appellate government counsel, Office of the Judge Advocate General, U.S. Navy
  • 1988-1991: Prosecutor, defense counsel, and chief review officer, Legal Services Support Section, U.S. Marine Corps[2][3]

Federal judgeship nomination

Fourth Circuit

Nomination Tracker
 Candidate:Albert Diaz
 Court:Fourth Circuit
 Progress:Confirmed 409 days after nomination.
ApprovedANominated:November 4, 2009
ApprovedAABA Rating:Unanimously Well Qualified
ApprovedAHearing:December 16, 2009
ApprovedAReported:January 28, 2010 
ApprovedAConfirmed:December 18, 2010
 Vote: Voice vote

President Obama nominated Diaz to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on November 4, 2009.[4]

Diaz received a unanimous rating of Well Qualified from the American Bar Association.[5]

Judiciary Committee hearing

Diaz's Public Questionnaire Available Here
Questions for the Record Available Here

Diaz received a unanimous vote from the Senate Judiciary Committee to forward his nomination to the full Senate.[6] He had a hearing before the committee on December 16, 2009.[7] Diaz was questioned along with fellow nominee James Wynn by just three members of the committee. When asked about his judicial philosophy, Diaz said: "We're not simply dealing with an academic exercise, but we're affecting people's lives in each and every case."[8][9] They reported him to the Senate on January 28, 2010, and the Senate confirmed his nomination on December 18, 2010.[5]

Awards and associations

  • Vice President, North Carolina Bar Association
  • Member, ABA Judicial Division
  • Member, NCBA Hispanic-Latino Lawyers Committee
  • Member, NCBA Minorities in the Profession Committee
  • Member, Hispanic National Bar Association
  • Member, Continuing Judicial Education Committee, North Carolina Conference of Superior Court Judges
  • Member, American College of Business Court Judges
  • Member, Mecklenburg County Bar Nominating Committee
  • Member, Special Committee on Diversity
  • Secretary, Chief Justice William H. Bobbitt Inn of Court[10]

Notable cases

Copyright suit over NFL Baltimore Ravens logo (2013)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Limited Partnership, et al, 12-2543)

On December 17, 2013, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit, composed of Judges Harvie Wilkinson, Allyson Duncan, and Albert Diaz, found that both the Baltimore Ravens' and National Football League's (NFL) use of the team's old "Flying B" logo did not infringe upon plaintiff Frederick Bouchat's copyright.[11]

In the underlying case, Bouchat, an amateur artist, proposed a new logo for the Ravens after the team moved to Baltimore in 1995. The Ravens then presented a logo that was strikingly similar to the one Bouchat suggested. Bouchat obtained a copyright on his original drawing and filed suit, ultimately winning the case but without damages awarded. Several years later, the Ravens again changed the team logo, but Bouchat alleged infringement once more, and attempted to prevent the team and the NFL from using its previous "Flying B" logo in documentary films and photographs. The district court found that the defendants' use was fair.[11]

Judge Wilkinson, writing for the majority, affirmed the lower court's decision, noting that the use of Bouchat's copyrighted work was transformative (i.e., it was used for a different purpose than its original one). Wilkinson further stated:

The uses here were not only transformative, but also -- take your pick -- fleeting, incidental, de minimis, innocuous. If these uses failed to qualify as fair, a host of perfectly benign and valuable expressive works would be subject to lawsuits. That in turn would discourage the makers of all sorts of historical documentaries and displays, and would deplete society's fund of informative speech.[11][12]
The use of the Ravens logo, as negligible and incidental as it was, failed to rise to the level of "the type of commercial use frowned upon" by copyright law. Bouchat was not awarded any damages.[11]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
William Walter Wilkins
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
2010 - present
Succeeded by: