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Denny Chin

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Denny Chin
Denny Chin.jpg
Current Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #12
Station:   New York
Appointed by:   Barack Obama
Approval vote:   98-0
Active:   4/23/2010-Present
Preceded by:   Robert Sack
Past post:   Southern District of New York
Past term:   1994-2010
Past position:   Seat #28
Personal History
Born:   1954
Hometown:   Kowloon, Hong Kong
Undergraduate:   Princeton University, 1975
Law School:   Fordham University Law School, 1978

Denny Chin is a federal judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He joined the court in 2010 after an appointment by Barack Obama. Prior to his appointment, Chin served on the bench in the Southern District of New York. He also worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He joined the district court bench in 1994 after an appointment from Bill Clinton.[1]

Early life and education

In 1954, Check Kong Chin was born in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Later in 1975, Chin received his undergraduate degree from Princeton. In 1978, he received his Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law.[1]

Professional career

Judicial career

Second Circuit

Nomination Tracker
 Candidate:Denny Chin
 Court:Second Circuit
 Progress:Confirmed 198 days after nomination.
ApprovedANominated:October 6, 2009
ApprovedAABA Rating:Unanimously Well Qualified
ApprovedAHearing:November 18, 2009
ApprovedAReported:December 10, 2009 
ApprovedAConfirmed:April 22, 2010
 Vote: 98-0

On September 9, 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported that Judge Chin would be nominated by Barack Obama to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.[2] On October 6, 2009, Obama sent Chin's nomination to the Senate.[3]

Judge Chin had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 18, 2009.[4] He was confirmed 98-0 by the Senate on April 22, 2010.[5] You can find Chin's public questionnaire available here and Questions for the Record available here. He received his commission on the next day. At the time of his confirmation, Chin was the only Asian American serving as a federal appellate judge.[5] Chin received a rating of "Unanimously Well Qualified" from the American Bar Association.[6]

Southern District of New York

On the recommendation of U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Chin was nominated to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by President Bill Clinton on March 24, 1994, to a new seat created by 104 Stat. 5089, which was approved by Congress. Chin was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 9, 1994, on a majority voice vote and received commission on August 10, 1994.[7] Chin was succeeded in this position by J. Paul Oetken.

Notable cases

NY City smoking deterrent posters (2012)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (94th St. Grocery v. N.Y.C. Bd. of Health, 11-91-cv)

On July 10, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the decision of Manhattan Federal Judge Jed Rakoff, ruling that federal regulations preempted a city ordinance that required cigarette distributors to post gruesome photos of cigarette related illnesses at the point of sale. The court held that the 1965 Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act preempted the local law, thus rendering the local ordinance unconstitutional. Philip Morris USA alongside two other manufacturers, two major retailers and two trade unions challenged this city law in federal court last year. Despite admitting the risks of smoking, Rakoff agreed with the cigarette producers, stating in his opinion, "Even merchants of morbidity are entitled to the full protection of the law." The Second Circuit concurred, though they believed that the city could launch its own anti-smoking campaign using the images, but could not require retailers to do it. The case was heard by Judges Peter Hall, Gerard Lynch, and Denny Chin, with Chin writing the opinion of the court.[8][9]

Google book scanning case (2009)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (The Authors Guild et al. v. Google Inc, and American Society of Media Photographers et al. v. Google Inc, 1:05-cv-08136-DC)

Judge Chin presided in a copyright case involving Google after Google was taken to court by the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers over alleged copyright violations in the tech giant's attempt to digitize books. On September 9, 2009, it was reported that Google would enter into a $125 million dollar settlement with the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers. However, there has been widespread opposition to a possible settlement from not only the U.S. Government, but the governments of Germany and France along with Japanese authors on the grounds of not letting authors have free choice over which parts of their works are published on the search engine.[10]

Judge Chin, on September 25, 2009, announced that he would delay a planned October 7, 2009, settlement hearing in the Google books case. Both sides asked for the delay over the possibility of the settlement being anti-competitive. However, both sides planned to meet on October 7, 2009, over case management plans to move the case to a final resolution.[11] During the October 7, 2009, hearing, Judge Chin set a deadline of November 9, 2009, in which Google had to have a settlement plan ready for the judge to approve. The previous settlement proposal was thrown out.[12]

On November 19, 2009, Judge Chin gave preliminary approval of a settlement made between Google and book publishers. Final approval of the settlement was not be made until a hearing scheduled on February 18, 2010. Members of the public and the United States Department of Justice had until February 4th to comment on the settlement.[13] Google asked Judge Chin on February 11, 2010 to accept a $125 million dollar settlement in relation to the case. Attorneys for Google felt that if no settlement was reached, that it would set precedence for similar cases to back-load court dockets resulting in litigation that could take years to rule on. The brief filed by Google was to convince the judge that the settlement would allow for more competition in the virtual book market amid Justice Department objections.[14] Judge Chin, on February 18, 2010, held a hearing on whether to accept the settlement by Google. Judge Chin had to delay the ruling because the amount information being presented that according to the judge, "is too much to digest."[15] On March 22, 2011 Judge Chin rejected the controversial settlement agreement "on copyright and antitrust grounds."[16]

The long-standing case was resolved for publishers on October 4, 2012, when the Association of American Publishers and Google announced a settlement. The AAP, acting on behalf of five publishers named as plaintiffs in the suit, issued a statement stating "Google is said to 'acknowledge the rights and interests of copyright-holders,' and U.S. publishers can 'choose to make available or choose to remove their books and journals digitized by Google for its Library Project.'"[17] While Google and the AAP were able to resolve their suit, an additional aspect of the suit remained: "barring a settlement with the Authors Guild, the fair use questions at the heart of the Google program could still be adjudicated by Judge Chin."[17] The October 2012 ruling was vacated and remanded on July 1, 2013, noting that all further appeals would be heard by a panel of judged made up of Jose Cabranes, Pierre Leval and Barrington Parker.[18]

On November 14, 2013, Judge Chin ruled in favor of Google over the Authors Guild. According to Chin, Google Books operates under “fair use,” and it “provides significant public benefits.” The Authors Guild disagrees, however, and is planning to appeal Judge Chin's decision.[19] Judge Chin's ruling listed the many benefits of the Google Library Project, including its ability to create "a new and efficient way for readers and researchers to find books" and for "data mining" through which "[r]esearchers can examine word frequencies, syntactic patterns, and thematic markers to consider how literary style has changed over time." He also indicated that other benefits of the Library Project were to "expand access to books," to "preserve books and give them new life," and to increase the reader's exposure to the seller or library through links.[20]

Bernie Madoff Case (2009)

     Southern District of New York
Judge Chin was the judge presiding over the court case of disgraced investment banker Bernie Madoff, who created one of the largest Ponzi schemes ever in American history.[21] Mr. Madoff, former Chief of the NASDAQ Stock Market, was charged of bilking investors out of at least $50 billion as Madoff was charged with money laundering, perjury and securities, mail and wire fraud.[21]

The trial gained a lot of notoriety as wealthy investors to socialites lost money and even their fortunes under Madoff. During the preliminary hearings, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York pressed Federal magistrate judge Ronald Ellis to put Madoff in jail without any bail, claiming that not keeping Madoff in jail results in what the Federal prosecutors perceived to be an "obstruction of justice."[22] During the preliminary hearing there was a power struggle between Federal prosecutors and the judges who presided over the case that fueled a public debate on whether Madoff should be in jail during the trial despite using his ten million dollar home in New York City as collateral towards bail.[22]

On March 12, 2009 in front of Judge Chin, Mr. Madoff pleaded guilty to eleven felony counts of securities and mail fraud, perjury and lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission. With his admission, Madoff faces a maximum of 150 years in prison, mandatory restitution and "criminal fines up to twice the gross gain or loss derived from the offense."[23] Federal prosecutors asked for 150 years in Federal prison. It was on the morning of the June 29, 2009, sentencing that the Federal probation department for the Southern District of New York recommended 50 years for Mr. Madoff.[24] During the sentencing in front of Judge Chin, Mr. Madoff stated that he "will live with this pain, this torment, for the rest of my life."[25] Madoff also said that he dug himself "deeper into a hole" as the scheme progressed.[25] Despite the claims from Madoff's attorney, Ira Sorokin, that the 150 year sentence asked by prosecutors was excessive, Judge Denny Chin sentenced Madoff to 150 years in Federal prison.[25] During the sentencing on June 29, 2009, Judge Chin said that Madoff's breach of trust was massive, and that he lied to investors and to the SEC to buy homes, yachts and to pay country club fees.[26] "Not a single letter was submitted in support of Madoff," Chin said. "Not friends, not family. That is telling." Judge Chin called the Madoff defense team's claims for only 12 years in prison: "less than compelling."[26] Burt Ross, an investment banker who lost five million in the scheme testified to Judge Chin: "Commit Madoff to prison for the rest of his life. May Satan grow a fourth mouth where Madoff can spend the rest of eternity."[26]

Judicial philosophy

During an interview recently published by the Wall Street Journal law blog, attorneys who appeared in front of Judge Chin had mostly positive qualities to attribute about Judge Chin who was nominated to the bench in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. “He’s got a good reputation,” said Bradley Simon, a former US Attorney in New York State. “I don’t know many people who have bad things to say about him.” However, Simon, a former US Attorney, thought Chin could have a pro-defense bias. A unidentified former Assistant U.S. attorney in New York State disagreed with Simon's findings saying that Chin leans slightly pro-government. “Either way, it’s not that strong a leaning,” said the former Assistant US Attorney. “He’s certainly not perceived as unfair.” Another unidentified former Assistant U.S. attorney in New York State said that “if you spin the wheel and land on Judge Chin, you’re elated, not because he’s pro-government, necessarily, but because he’s a gentleman, and he’s smart and capable.” The former prosecutor added, “He’s demanding, in a good way. He doesn’t let parties get away with too much.”[27]

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Judge Denny Chin Biography from the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. Wall Street Journal "Madoff Judge to Be Named to U.S. Appeals Court," September 9, 2009
  3. White House News Release, "President Obama Nominates Judge Denny Chin for United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit...," October 6, 2009
  4. C-SPAN "Judiciary and Justice Nominations," November 18, 2009
  5. 5.0 5.1 National Law Journal, "Confirmation of Chin Removes Some Pressure From Circuit," April 23, 2010 (dead link)
  6. Judicial Nomination Materials (dead link)
  7. THOMAS, "Denny Chin USDC, SDNY confirmation: PN1234-103"
  8. MyFoxDC, "New York can't scare smokers with graphic images, court ruled," July 12, 2012
  9. Ruling for 94th St. Grocery v. N.Y.C. Bd. of Health
  10. The Financial, "U.S. Federal judge to consider Google books deal September 10," September 9, 2009 (dead link)
  11. Google, "Fairness Hearing Postponed for Google Books deal," September 24, 2009
  12. New York Times, "Judge Sets Nov. 9 Deadline For Revised Google Book Settlement," October 7, 2009
  13. Washington Post, "Judge backs revised Google Books deal," November 20, 2009
  14. BusinessWeek, "Google Defends Book Settlement, Setting Stage for Court Hearing," February 12, 2010
  15. DMW Media, "Google Book Settlement Gets Day in Court; No Ruling Today," February 18, 2010
  16. Publishers Weekly, "The Google Settlement Rejection: What Comes Next?" March 28, 2011
  17. 17.0 17.1 Publishers Weekly, "Google, Publishers Settle Lawsuit over Book Scanning," October 04, 2012
  18. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, "THE AUTHORS GUILD, INC. v. GOOGLE, INC.," July 1, 2013
  19. Time, "Google Just Won...," November 19, 2013
  20. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, "THE AUTHORS GUILD, INC. v. GOOGLE, INC.," November 19, 2013
  21. 21.0 21.1 FOX News, "Madoff to plead guilty," March 10, 2009
  22. 22.0 22.1 FOX News, "US Attorney to New York Judge: Jail Madoff without bail," January 5, 2009
  23. FBI, "Bernard L. Madoff Pleads Guilty...," November 19, 2013
  24. FOX News, "Federal Probation Department Recommends 50 years for Madoff," June 29, 2009
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 FOX News, "At sentencing, Madoff apologizes for fraud role," June 29, 2009
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 CNBC, "Judge Denny Chin" sends a strong signal with the 150 year Madoff Sentence," June 29, 2009
  27. Wall Street Journal Law Blog, "Judge Denny Chin the man who controls Madoff's fate," accessed June 26, 2009
Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
NA - new seat
Southern District of New York
Succeeded by:
J. Paul Oetken
Preceded by:
Robert Sack
Second Circuit
Seat #12
Succeeded by:

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