Second Circuit Court Visits Fordham Law


As part of its yearlong 125th anniversary celebration, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit visited Fordham Law on February 22 for a day in residence. Nine judges from the court joined Fordham Law professors in 10 classes throughout the day and later participated in a town hall; overall, 725 Fordham Law students heard from members of the Second Circuit about the importance of the court and its history.

“The history of the court includes a respect and reverence for the law that stands it apart from political winds,” said Dean Matthew Diller. “It’s a court marked by collegiality and mutual respect, where judges work to find consensus and disagree with respect and affection when consensus is not possible. It’s a court made up of judge’s judges.”

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals was established by Congress in 1891 with three judgeships and has periodically increased the number over the years. The court now comprises thirteen judges, including Hon. Denny Chin ’78, who attended Professor Olivier Sylvain’s Information Law class. Other alumni who have served on the court include Irving Kaufman ’31, William Hughes Mulligan ’42, Lawrence W. Pierce ’51, and Joseph M. McLaughlin ’59.

“I will simply say it’s such an honor for me to follow in the footsteps of these great alumni of our Law School,” said Judge Chin. ““We’ve had five Fordham Law alumni serve on the Second Circuit. In fact, we’ve had a Fordham alum serve on the Second Circuit continuously since 1961.”

Hon. Denny Chin ’78 and Olivier Sylvain

The daylong event was organized by members of the Fordham Law Review and presented in partnership with the Student Bar Association. To help the court celebrate its quasquicentennial, the Law Review published in its past October issue seven articles by prominent Second Circuit attorneys covering seven distinct areas of the law. The issue also featured four student-written notes by members of the Law Review.

“We’re so grateful to many editors of last year’s law review and this year’s law review for all of their work in producing what we think is a distinguished volume about the jurisprudence of the Second Circuit,” said Chief Judge Robert Katzmann.

Aaron Saiger and Hon. Robert Katzmann

During the afternoon town hall, judges fielded questions about the court’s decision-making process, its group dynamic, and the assignment of cases.

“There’s a tremendous level of respect that develops because people are not grabbing issues, and they’re not personalizing either the law or the court,” said Judge Dennis Jacobs, in explaining how cases are assigned randomly.

In addition to judges Chin, Katzmann, and Jacobs, other participating Second Circuit judges were Guido Calabresi, Susan L. Carney, Peter W. Hall, Pierre N. Leval, Reena Raggi, and Robert D. Sack.


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