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Jed Rakoff

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Jed Rakoff
Jed-Rakoff.jpg
Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Title:   Senior Judge
Position:   Seat #6T
Station:   New York, NY
Service:
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   01/04/1996-12/30/2010
Senior:   12/31/2010-Present
Preceded by:   David Edelstein
Succeeded by:   Katherine Forrest
Personal History
Born:   1943
Hometown:   Philadelphia, PA
Undergraduate:   Swarthmore College, 1964
Law School:   Harvard Law, 1969
Grad. School:   Oxford University, Balliol College, 1966

Jed Saul Rakoff is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He joined the court in 1996 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. Rakoff assumed senior status on December 31, 2010.[1]

Education

Rakoff graduated from Swarthmore with his bachelor's degree in 1964, and later from Oxford-England with his Master's of Philosophy degree in 1966. Rakoff received a J.D. from Harvard Law in 1969.[1]

Professional career

Rakoff was a law clerk for former Judge Abraham Freedman of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1969 to 1970. Rakoff entered private practice in New York City from 1970 to 1972 before serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York from 1973 to 1980. Rakoff worked as Chief Prosecutor of the Business and Securities Fraud Prosecutions Unit from 1978 to 1980 before resuming private practice work until 1995.[1]

Judicial career

Southern District of New York

On the recommendation of U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Rakoff was nominated to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by President Bill Clinton on October 11, 1995, to a seat vacated by Judge David Edelstein. Rakoff was confirmed by the Senate on December 29, 1995, on a majority vote and received commission on January 4, 1996.[2]

Notable cases

New York City smoking deterrent posters (2012)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (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 Judge 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 in 2011. 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 its judges 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.[3][4]

Madoff trustees cases (2011)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
On October 14, 2011, Judge Rakoff announced that he would be taking over a lawsuit between Irving Picard, the liquidator of Bernard Madoff’s firm, and thirty-two trustees who withdrew money before the firm's 2008 bankruptcy. Judge Rakoff took the cases after being asked by investor Gerald Blumenthal, who was being sued by Picard, whether the Madoff estate owed him the money reflected on his Madoff brokerage statements. Blumenthal was then joined by thirty-one other investors facing similar lawsuits, which inspired Judge Rakoff to take all the cases because of their similarity to each other.[5]

S&P/Moody's case (2010)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
On June 1, 2010, Judge Rakoff ruled that credit rating agencies like S & P and Moody's were not underwriters of securities. A group of plaintiffs sued the two credit rating agencies on claims that they used credit ratings to obtain $63 million dollars in mortgage-backed securities. The judge wrote in his ruling that the plaintiffs in the case had a very broad view of what an underwriter does, and found no evidence that S & P and Moody's were involved in underwriting.[6]

Rajaratnam wiretaps (2010)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
On February 10, 2010, Judge Rakoff ruled that Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam and his associates must turn over wiretaps that were used in the discovery of evidence for their criminal case to be used in a civil case. The Securities and Exchange Commission asked the court for Rajaratnam to turn over the wiretaps as they had filed a civil lawsuit over insider trading charges. Judge Rakoff said in his ruling that it would be unfair to have one side have important information such as wiretaps, and felt it was important for Rajaratnam and his associates to turn over the wiretaps to the SEC.[7]

Bank of America-SEC Settlement (2009)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Judge Rakoff presided over a lawsuit between Bank of America and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2009. The SEC alleged that Bank of America failed to disclose to investors an agreement to pay $5 billion in bonuses when they took over Merrill Lynch.[8][9]

On September 14, 2009, Judge Rakoff rejected the settlement deal between Bank of America and the SEC. The veteran judge called the settlement deal worth $33 million "unreasonable and unfair" after the two sides first agreed to settle on charges Bank of America misled investors.[10]

The judge approved the settlement between Bank of America and the SEC on February 22, 2010. The two sides agreed to a settlement of $150 million. As part of the settlement, Bank of America also had to agree to oversight changes. Rakoff still had criticisms over the new settlement, calling the agreement "half-baked justice," but said that the $150 million settlement was "better than nothing."[11]

  • Click here for a copy of the settlement agreement.

SEC v. Marc S. Dreier (2009)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
SEC v. Marc S. Dreier, USDC, SDNY Civil Case No. 08 Civ. 10617[12]

Judge Rakoff was the presiding judge in the case of Marc S. Dreier, a former New York City attorney who pleaded guilty to committing a securities investment fraud scheme.[13]

Dreier faced a possible prison sentence of up to one hundred forty-five years. On July 13, 2009, Judge Rakoff sentenced Drier to twenty years in prison and criticized federal prosecutors that asked for a one hundred forty-five-year sentence. "Is the government serious about asking for one hundred forty-five years? To me, for the government to ask for one hundred forty-five years is to demean the sentence Judge Denny Chin imposed on Mr. Madoff," he said.[14]

Judicial philosophy

Judge Rakoff, in the opinion of fellow colleagues among lawyers and judges, is known as a stickler for transparency and fairness. Gregory Diskant, an attorney and a long time friend of the judge, said there was a consistent theme in his rulings: “making sure that public institutions behave appropriately and private institutions behave properly." Lee Ginsberg, a noted New York City lawyer noted the judge had a record of exposing an issue of public importance and pushing for a solution.[15]

Judge Rakoff was noted for this demeanor in 2003 when he forced WorldCom to pay an extra $250 million in damages after investors for the company criticized the judge for having an inadequate settlement of $500 between the company and the Securities and Exchange Commission.[15]

Economic crisis

Judge Rakoff was noted in the April 10, 2010, edition of the Los Angeles Times as being the most outspoken federal judge on issues involving the economic crisis. It was noted in the article that Judge Rakoff had not just criticized banks like JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, but has criticized regulators for not doing enough on their part to regulate the nation's banking laws.[16]

Before being nominated to the federal bench in 1996, Rakoff was a federal prosecutor for eleven years in the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney's Office in the financial crimes unit.[16]

Rakoff told the Los Angeles Times: "Once I really got into securities fraud prosecutions, I came to realize how central they were to the maintenance of a free market and how, in many ways, they are far more important to the welfare of our society than many of the more sensational criminal cases that one (person) hears about."[16]

Some defense attorneys have been critical of this judge for seeking publicity. Some who are supportive of the judge say he can be very harsh on prosecutors. One former Assistant U.S. Attorney told the Los Angeles Times that even prosecutors have to be on the top of their game when appearing in front of Judge Rakoff.[16]

See also

External links

References

Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
David Edelstein
Southern District of New York
1996–2010
Succeeded by:
Katherine Forrest


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