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Robert Katzmann

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Robert Katzmann
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Current Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Title:   Chief Judge
Position:   Seat #11
Station:   New York, NY
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   7/16/1999-Present
Chief:   09/01/2013-Present
Preceded by:   Jon Newman
Personal History
Born:   1944
Hometown:   New York, NY
Undergraduate:   Columbia University, 1973
Law School:   Yale Law School, 1980
Grad. School:   Harvard, 1976, Ph.D., 1978

Robert A. Katzmann (b. 1953) is a federal appeals judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit based in New York City. He joined the court in 1999 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. At the time of appointment, he was a Professor at Georgetown University. He was elevated to the role of chief judge on September 1, 2013.[1][2]

Early life and education

Katzmann was born in New York, New York, in 1944. He went on to graduate from Columbia-New York with his bachelor's degree in 1973, and later graduated from Harvard with his Master's degree in 1976 and his Ph.D. degree in 1978. He earned his Juris Doctor from Yale in 1980.[1]

Professional career

  • 1992-1999: Professor, Georgetown University
  • 1998: Acting program director, Brookings Institution
  • 1992: Chair in law and politics, University of Oregon
  • 1990-1992: Visiting professor, UCLA (Washington, D.C. program)
  • 1986-1987: Special assistant to director, Federal Judicial Center
  • 1986-present: President, Governance Institute
  • 1987-1992: Adjunct professor, Georgetown University Public Policy Program
  • 1984-1989: Adjunct professor, Georgetown University Law Center
  • 1981-1999: Fellow, Brookings Institution
  • 1980-1981: Law clerk, Hon. Hugh Bownes, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit[1]

Judicial career

Second Circuit

On the recommendation of New York U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moniyhan, Katzmann was nominated by President Bill Clinton on March 8, 1999, to a seat vacated by Jon Newman as Newman assumed senior status. Katzmann was confirmed by the Senate on July 14, 1999, on a majority voice vote and received commission on July 16, 1999.[3]

Notable cases

ADA's speech disruptive enough to uphold his firing (2013)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Sacha v. Sedita, 12-4507-cv)

On November 23, 2013, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit, consisting of Chief Judge Robert Katzmann, Judge Rosemary Pooler, and Senior Judge Pierre Leval, upheld the dismissal of Mark Sacha’s lawsuit against Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III. In the underlying case, Sedita fired Sacha from his position as Assistant District Attorney following Sacha's public contention that Sedita failed to prosecute G. Steven Pigeon on allegations of election law violations (specifically, the alleged laundering of a $10,000 campaign contribution). Sacha claimed he was fired in retaliation for his criticism of Sedita and filed suit in December 2009, alleging that his First Amendment rights had been violated. Sedita filed a motion for summary judgment, and Chief Judge William Skretny of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York granted it in October 2012, citing the fact that his statements to the press were made in his capacity as an ADA, not as a private citizen, and thus his free speech rights had not been violated. That decision is available here. Sacha appealed Skretny's ruling to the Second Circuit, where the three-judge panel affirmed Skretny's ruling, but on alternate grounds, noting that "Sacha’s speech was sufficiently disruptive to justify terminating his employment as an assistant district attorney." Sacha vowed to file a further appeal, claiming that the Second Circuit's three-judge panel had a conflict of interest in hearing the case.[4][5]

VT Prison Labor Case (2012)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
On Friday, August 3, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned the lower court decision and held that a suit could continue which alleged that the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington, Vermont violated the 13th amendment by requiring an individual to work in the laundry room for $0.25 an hour. The suit was filed by Finbar McGarry who alleged that during his time pending trial in the facility, he was forced to work 14-hour shifts, three days a week, and was punished with solitary confinement if he refused. He filed the suit a month before his release, requesting $11 million in damages. U.S. District Judge Garvan Murtha threw out the case claiming that McGarry did not prove that the forced work was akin to African American slavery, which the act was originally designed to protect against. The three-judge panel of the appeals court composed of Robert Katzmann, Richard Wesley, and the writing judge, Barrington Parker, disagreed, writing in the opinion, "The Amendment was intended to prohibit all forms of involuntary labor, not solely to abolish chattel slavery." In addition, the court held that McGarry's pretrial status required that the state treat him differently as he was not yet convicted and the charges were later dropped. The case was remanded back to Judge Murtha for further evaluation.[6]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Jon Newman
Second Circuit
Seat #11
Succeeded by: