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Misconduct Report: August 2014

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.
Service:
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   3/26/1997 - Present
Preceded by:   Harold Greene
Past post:   Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Past term:   1984-1997
Personal History
Born:   1943
Hometown:   New York, NY
Undergraduate:   Catholic U. of America '65
Law School:   Catholic U. of America '68

Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is a 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.

Early life and education

Born in New York, New York, Kollar-Kotelly graduated from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law with her bachelor's degree in 1965 and Juris Doctor degree in 1968.[1]

Professional career

Kollar-Kotelly was a law clerk for an Appeals Judge, Catherine Kelly, in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals from 1968 to 1969. From 1969 to 1972, Kollar-Kotelly was a Staff Attorney in the Criminal Appeals Division for the United States Department of Justice. Kollar-Kotelly served as Chief Legal Counsel for the United States Department of Health and Human Services from 1972 to 1984. From 1984 to 1997, Kollar-Kotelly served as Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.[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

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.[2]

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

     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 owns 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.[3][4]

In recent years, the Department of Justice allowed for the mergers of Delta and Northwest Airlines, and United and Continental.[3]

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.[5]

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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[8] 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.[8][9]
Al-Rabiah became the 30th person held at Guantanamo to be released in 2009.[7]

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.[10] 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.[10]

"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 publishing 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 in the book.[11]

See also

External links

References


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