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Colleen Kollar-Kotelly

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Colleen Kollar-Kotelly
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Title:   Judge
Station:   D.C.
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   03/26/1997-Present
Preceded by:   Harold Greene
Past post:   Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Past term:   1984-1997
Personal History
Born:   1943
Hometown:   New York, NY
Undergraduate:   Catholic U. of America, 1965
Law School:   Catholic U. of America, 1968

Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is an Article III federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. She joined the court in 1997 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton.[1]

Early life and education

Born in New York City, New York, Kollar-Kotelly graduated from the Catholic University of America with her B.A. degree in 1965, and J.D. in 1968.[1]

Professional career

  • 1984-1997: Associate judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia
  • 1972-1984: Chief legal counsel, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • 1969-1972: Attorney, Criminal Appeals Division, U.S. Department of Justice
  • 1968-1969: Law clerk, Hon. Catherine Kelly, District of Columbia Court of Appeals[1]

Judicial career

District of Columbia

Kollar-Kotelly was nominated to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by President Bill Clinton on January 7, 1997, to a seat vacated by Harold Greene. Kollar-Kotelly was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 20, 1997, on a Senate voice vote and received commission on March 26, 1997.[1]

Notable cases

Dept. of Justice challenges US Airways-American Airline merger (2013-2014)

     United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Judge Kollar-Kotelly presided over the Justice Department's (DOJ) challenge of the merger between US Airways and AMR, the company that owned American Airlines. The DOJ attempted to block the merger through antitrust laws, alleging that it would create price increases and cause "substantial harm" to consumers. The companies fought the lawsuit in court, insisting that the merger would give customers more choices in flights.[2][3]

In recent years, the Department of Justice allowed for the mergers of Delta and Northwest Airlines, and United and Continental.[2]

Request for stay denied
In response to the federal government shutdown of 2013, the U.S. Attorney requested a stay in litigation for the federal merger case. Judge Kollar-Kotelly denied that motion, referencing the expediency of the trial and need for a quick resolution.[4]

Settlement reached
In November 2013, the DOJ reached a settlement with the airlines, allowing them to increase competition at various airports by selling their slots to low-cost carriers. Both parties were pleased with the solution.[5]

Settlement approved

In April 2014, Judge Kollar-Kotelly approved the proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways. Although the merger closed on December 9, 2013, Judge Kollar-Kotelly had to issue her final approval in order to put a stop to an antitrust lawsuit that was filed by the Department of Justice over the potential monopoly and competitive harms that had the potential to arise because of the merger. In finalizing the merger, Judge Kollar-Kotelly noted that the settlement between the DOJ and the airlines was "within the reaches of the public interest."[6][7]

AARP trademark infringement ruling (2014)

     United States District Court for the District of Columbia (AARP v. Sycle, 13-0608)

On January 17, 2014, Judge Kollar-Kotelly ruled that insurance broker Michael Sycle infringed upon AARP's trademark -- one which is associated with insurance -- imposing more than $600,000 in damages, attorneys' fees, and costs. In the underlying case, AARP filed suit under the Lanham Act and requested $2,000,000 in statutory damages, alleging that Sycle appropriated the non-profit organization's mark to advertise his business, falsely claiming to sell life insurance affiliated with AARP. Under the Lanham Act, statutory damages can rise to $200,000 per counterfeit mark, and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs are granted to deter a defendant's further willful misconduct. Sycle continued to infringe upon AARP's mark despite a cease and desist letter being issued, and never responded to AARP's complaint. Accordingly, a default judgment in the organization's favor was entered on the record. Due to the presence of limited evidence, AARP's default judgment with respect to statutory damages and attorneys' fees was not immediately granted by Kollar-Kotelly, and she asked that a supplemental memorandum be provided in support of the non-profit's total amount of damages and associated legal fees. In that memo, AARP later revised its calculated damages to $583,200, and requested attorneys' fees of approximately $17,740 (a 40 percent discount of the actual fees incurred). After receiving the evidence that was needed, Kollar-Kotelly granted the rest of AARP's motion, entering a default judgment against Sycle in the amount of $600,940.40.[8]

Guantanamo bay detainee ordered released (2009)

     United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Fouad Mahmoud Al Rabiah, et al., v. United States, et al., 1:02-cv-00082-CKK)

On September 25, 2009, Judge Kollar-Kotelly ordered that a Kuwaiti-national detainee held at Guantanamo Bay be released after being held in prison for seven years. In a declassified opinion, the judge found that federal prosecutors did not have enough evidence to keep Fouad al-Rabiah detained for a long time period.[9] Al-Rabiah, a Kuwait Airways engineer, was captured in Afghanistan and accused of assisting al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, as well as helping Taliban fighters in Tora Bora.[10] The detained Kuwaiti's lawyers asserted he was captured based on mistaken identity. Ultimately, Kollar-Kotelly found that he had only received two weeks of military training -- according to Kuwaiti law -- and that he had a record of charity work, with no ties to terrorism, and ordered his release.[10] Upon the decision, the detainee's lawyer commented:
Mr. al Rabiah can never reclaim the eight years he lost at Guantanamo Bay - and the United States must not simply turn and forget.[10][11]
Al-Rabiah became the thirtieth person held at Guantanamo to be released in 2009.[9]

Public access to requests for Presidential clemency (2009)

     United States District Court for the District of Columbia (George Lardner v. Department of Justice, 1:08-cv-01398-CKK)

On July 31, 2009, Judge Kollar-Kotelly ruled in a lawsuit that unsuccessful applicants for pardons and commutations of prison sentences must be disclosed to the public. Kollar-Kotelly also stated that no applicant for a pardon would have their chances harmed if their information was disclosed.[12] In the underlying case, George Lardner, a Washington Post reporter, sued the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Pardon Attorney after being denied a Freedom of Information Act request to look at who applied for pardons when George W. Bush was President.[12]

"Muslim Mafia" author barred from publishing classified docs (2009)

     United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Council on American-Islamic Relations, v. Paul David Gaubatz, et al., cv-09-2030-CKK)

Judge Kollar-Kotelly was the presiding judge in a case brought by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) against the author of a book titled Muslim Mafia. The judge ruled against the author, who published intelligence documents he had access to while posing as an intern to gather such documents. Kollar-Korelly also ordered the author to retract other private documents that were in the book.[13]

See also

External links


Washington, D.C.Washington, D.C. judicial newsJudicial selection in Washington, D.C.United States District Court for the District of ColumbiaUnited States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia CircuitDistrict of Columbia Court of AppealsSuperior Court of the District of ColumbiaDCTemplate.jpg