Fordham Law

Hon. Denny Chin '78 Unanimously Confirmed to Second Circuit

April 23, 2010

Media Source

The National Law Journal has reported that alumnus Hon. Denny Chin '78 has been confirmed unanimously to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The full story follows.

David Ingram
The National Law Journal


WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate today unanimously confirmed Judge Denny Chin to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, as Democrats continued to inch through a backlog of lower-court judicial nominees.

Judge Chin was elevated from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, where he drew national attention for sentencing financier Bernard Madoff to 150 years in prison for orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme. Born in Hong Kong, Judge Chin will be the only active Asian-American judge on a federal appellate court.

The 98-0 vote came six months after Judge Chin's nomination by President Barack Obama despite anonymous objections to scheduling a confirmation vote for Mr. Obama's picks. The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed Judge Chin's nomination Dec. 10, and since then Senator Charles Schumer, D.-N.Y., has blamed Republicans for the delays.

Mr. Obama has nominated four candidates to the Second Circuit bench. Judge Gerard Lynch was nominated on April 2, 2009 and confirmed on Sept. 17. Still pending are the nominations of Southern District U.S. Attorney Raymond Lohier Jr. and Connecticut District Judge Robert N. Chatigny. Mr. Lohier's confirmation hearing was scheduled in the Judiciary Committee at 3 p.m. today.

With Judge Chin's confirmation, there are still three additional vacancies.

No Republicans spoke about Judge Chin's nomination although, in written questions they sent him last year, two of the Senate's most conservative senators expressed some concerns.

Senator Jeff Sessions, R.-Ala., the Judiciary Committee's top Republican, and Senator Tom Coburn, R.-Okla., asked Judge Chin about his rulings that struck down registration for sex offenders. The Second Circuit reversed the judge, they noted.

"I am concerned," Mr. Coburn wrote in one question, "that you may have an extreme view of the law that places greater weight in favor of the perpetrators of sexual assault rather than their victims and the communities in which they may live."

Judge Chin replied that he accepted the reversals. "These were difficult issues, and although it reversed me, the Second Circuit commented that I had written a 'thoughtful decision,' " he wrote.

Mr. Sessions also asked Judge Chin about his comments at his confirmation hearing praising diversity in the judiciary. And he asked Judge Chin about a 2003 speech in which Judge Chin said he was a "judicial activist" in the sense of trying "to get out there, to be seen and heard" as a judge. Judge Chin replied that race and ethnicity have no rule in judicial decision-making and that he believes in judicial restraint.

Three other judges were confirmed this week. On Wednesday, the Senate voted 77-20 to confirm Judge Thomas Vanaskie to the Third Circuit. Today, it confirmed two nominees, Marisa Demeo and Stuart Nash, to the D.C. Superior Court.

Judge Chin has been a federal district judge since 1994. He was previously a partner at New York's Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard and a name partner at Campbell, Patrick & Chin. From 1982 to 1986, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District. He started his career as an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell after law school at Fordham University.