Denise J. Casper

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Denise J. Casper
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Assumed office
December 20, 2010
Appointed byBarack Obama
Preceded byReginald C. Lindsay
Personal details
Denise Jefferson

(1968-01-09) January 9, 1968 (age 51)
East Patchogue, New York
EducationWesleyan University (B.A.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)

Denise Jefferson Casper (born January 9, 1968), is a United States Federal Judge for the District Court of Massachusetts.[1] Judge Denise Casper is most notable for being the first African-American woman to serve as a district court judge in Massachusetts since it was established two hundred and twenty three years ago.[2] Judge Casper continues on the rich legacy held by the previous judges who broke racial barriers for judicial diversity in Massachusetts. David S. Nelson first, and Reginald C. Lindsay fifteen years later, were the first two African-American District Court Judges to serve the District of Massachusetts. Both judges served with honor and distinction until their eventual replacement. Judge Casper currently holds the seat previously occupied by Judge Reginald Lindsay after being nominated by President Barack Obama in April 2010.[3] Judge Casper is also notable for presiding over the criminal trial of famous Boston mobster and long time FBI's Most Wanted, James “Whitey” Bulger.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Judge Casper was born in East Patchogue, New York. She grew up in Medford, New York,where she went to high school. She attended Wesleyan University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in 1990. She attended Harvard Law, taking a J.D. in 1994[5] She married Marc Nolan Casper on the campus of Wesleyan University. The newlyweds were each twenty six years old.[6]

Professional career[edit]

Immediately after law school, she clerked for Judges Edith W. Fine and J. Harold Flannery of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. After her clerkship, Casper joined Bingham McCutchen's civil litigation practice in 1995. She worked there until 1999, when she would leave private practice to become an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston. In 2004, Casper would be promoted to Deputy Chief of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Following her position as deputy chief, Casper took a break from practicing law and instead taught legal writing at Boston University. This would last until 2007, when she rejoined the public practice and became the Deputy District Attorney for the Middlesex District Attorney's Office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[7] Throughout her career path, Casper was known to be a great leader. She was said to inspire dedication, loyalty, and commitment in those who worked with her. Casper was known to be soft-spoken but firm. She carries herself with a calm and easy going attitude but is ready to be serious and tough when it is necessary. The honesty and patience she has displayed throughout her education and early professional life has created many long-lasting personal and professional friendships.[2]

Judicial career[edit]

Casper was nominated by President Barack Obama on April 28, 2010, to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.[1] This seat was previously held by Judge Reginald C. Lindsay.[2] She was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 17, 2010 and started her position a few days later.[1] Although she has only begun her judicial career, the support she has received from her colleagues and the public alike clearly speaks to her ability and character. Just as she had been praised in her pre judicial career, those around Judge Casper describe her as being extremely smart, having incredible integrity and fair judgment. Rachel Hershfang, an ex clerk to Judge Lindsay, current trial attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission, and close friend of Judge Casper speaks highly of her leadership and morals.[3] One of Judge Casper's very first cases as a Federal Judge for the District Court of Massachusetts was arguably the most notorious criminal trial ever conducted in Massachusetts. It could also be argued that this criminal trial is one of the most notorious in the history of the United States. The first case Judge Casper presided over was The United States v. James J. Bulger. James “Whitey” Bulger was an infamous mobster who ran a superior criminal network in extending throughout South Boston for nearly twenty years. His illegal activities included loansharking, extortion, trafficking of narcotics and firearms, and murder. Bulger found his way to the FBI's Most Wanted List after he ran from authorities in 1994. He was on the run for almost twenty years before he was found and arrested in California. Bulger was charged with 32 counts of felonies which ranged from murder to money laundering.[8][9][4] Judge Casper made a notable decision when Bulger's defense offered an immunity plea before the trial had even begun. Despite facing a mass murder mob boss, newly appointed Judge Casper remained collected and denied any chance of immunity in a thirty one page ruling.[10] The trial resulted in convictions for the murder of 11 people, as well as multiple counts of extortion, money laundering, drug dealing, and firearms possession. Bulger was sentenced to two life terms plus five years in prison, the amount requested by the prosecution. Judge Casper in her sentencing remarked how Bulger's actions required the most severe penalty because they were near unbelievable.[9]

Awards and honors[edit]

Judge Casper has received the honor of being a sponsor of two fellowships administered by the federal court system in Massachusetts. She is the sponsor of both the David S. Nelson Fellowship for inner-city high school students and the Lindsay fellowship for college students considering law school. United States District Court Chief Judge Mark Wolf stated that Casper was an obvious choice to receive this honor. Casper works closely to help improve young lawyers through programs like the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association.[3]


On April 30, 2012 Judge Casper posted a peer reviewed article titled “Reflections on My Freshman Year on the Bench”. In the article Casper touches on many subjects including her perspective of lawyers, the cases she's received and the differences between being a lawyer and a judge. The citation for the publication is as follows: Casper, Denise J. “Reflections on My Freshman Year on the Bench,” Boston Bar Journal , vol. 56, no. 2, 30 Apr. 2012.


  1. ^ a b c "Obama nominates Denise Casper as federal judge in Boston". Boston Herald. April 29, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Judge Breaks New Ground as First Black Woman to Sit on Bench in Massachusetts, Unprecedented. The Boston Globe. By Milton J. Valencia. 10 June 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Reporter, Milton J. Valencia-. "Federal judge breaks new ground as first black woman to sit on bench in Massachusetts - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  4. ^ a b "Federal Jury Convicts James "Whitey" Bulger". 2014-12-15. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  5. ^ "Casper, Denise Jefferson | Federal Judicial Center". Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  6. ^ "WEDDINGS; Denise Jefferson, Marc N. Casper". The New York Times. 1994-08-21. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  7. ^ "Casper Denise, J." Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  8. ^ June 24, CBS/AP; 2011; Am, 12:48. ""Whitey" Bulger to face charges in Massachusetts". Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  9. ^ a b "Whitey Bulger, Boston gangster found responsible for 11 murders, gets life in prison". 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  10. ^ Bidgood, Jess (2013-05-02). "Bulger Cannot Tell Jury About Immunity Claim, Judge Says". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-11.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Reginald C. Lindsay
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts