Douglas P. Woodlock

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Douglas Preston Woodlock
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Assumed office
June 1, 2015
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
In office
June 16, 1986 – June 1, 2015
Appointed byRonald Reagan
Preceded byWendell Arthur Garrity Jr.
Personal details
Douglas Preston Woodlock

(1947-02-27) February 27, 1947 (age 72)
Hartford, Connecticut
EducationYale University (B.A.)
Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.)

Douglas Preston Woodlock (born February 27, 1947) is a senior United States District Court of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Born in Connecticut, Woodlock graduated from Yale College and was a journalist before attending Georgetown University Law Center. After graduating, Woodlock was a lawyer in private practice and in government positions. Appointed to the federal bench in 1986, Woodlock presided over a number of noteworthy cases and was a key figure in the construction of the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse on the Boston waterfront. He took senior status in 2015.

Education, early life, and journalism career[edit]

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1947, Woodlock's family moved to the Chicago suburb of La Grange, Illinois, where Woodlock spent the first two years of high school.[1] He spent his last two years of high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.[1]

Woodlock received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale College in 1969, where he was a member of Skull and Bones, and vice chairman of the Yale Daily News.[2] He was an intern at the Chicago Daily News and then a reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times from 1969 to 1973, Chicago Sun-Times, first in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and then in Washington, D.C., where he covered the Supreme Court.[1] Woodlock then attended Georgetown University Law Center, earning his J.D. in 1975.[3]

Legal career[edit]

Woodlock worked in the Office of Chief Counsel for the Division of Corporation Finance at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from 1973 to 1975 and was a law clerk for Judge Frank Jerome Murray of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts from 1975 to 1976.[1]

He was in private practice in Boston, Massachusetts from 1976 to 1979, and again from 1983 to 1986, at the law firm of Goodwin, Procter & Hoar; in the interim, he was an Assistant United States Attorney of the District of Massachusetts.[1] Woodlock was also chairman of the Board of Appeals for the Town of Hamilton from 1978 to 1979; an instructor at Harvard Law School in 1980 and 1981; and chairman of the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services from 1984 to 1986.[3]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Woodlock was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on April 22, 1986, to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts vacated by Judge Wendell Arthur Garrity Jr.[3] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 13, 1986, on a voice vote,[4] and received his commission three days later.[3] He assumed senior status on June 1, 2015.[3]

Woodlock was a leading figure in the design of the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse, a new federal courthouse on the Boston waterfront,[5] working with Justice Stephen G. Breyer on the project.[6] In 1996, the American Institute of Architects honored Woodlock with its Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture for his efforts.[7]

Woodlock is a member of the American Law Institute.[8]

Notable cases[edit]

In 1989, Woodlock presided over a lawsuit brought by Jugoplastika, a Yugoslavian basketball team, against the Boston Celtics. Jugoplastika brought the suit after the Celtics had drafted basketball player Dino Radja, alleging that Radja still had two years remaining on a 1988 contract with Jugoplastika. Woodlock issued a preliminary injunction barring Radja from playing for the Celtics for two years.[9]

In a 1995 suit under the Alien Tort Claims Act, Woodlock ordered Hector Gramajo, a former Guatemalan general and defense minister, to pay $47.5 million in damages to nine plaintiffs, for his role in overseeing a campaign of repression and human rights abuses during the Guatemalan Civil War.[10] The plaintiffs were eight Gutamalean Canjobal indigenous people and American nun Dianna Ortiz, who brought claims for human rights violations that included the razing of Canjobal villages and the torture of Ortiz. In his ruling, Woodlock wrote: "Gramajo was aware of and supported widespread acts of brutality committed under his command resulting in thousands of civilian deaths. The evidence suggests that Gramajo devised and directed the implementation of an indiscriminate campaign of terror against civilians."[10]

In 2005, Woodlock accepted a plea agreement between federal prosecutors and Ahmed F. Mehalba, a translator at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp who pleaded guilty to removing a disc containing classified documents from the base. Woodlock sentenced Mehalba to 20 months in prison.[11]

In 2008, Woodlock presided over a case involving the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), in which he issued an injunction barring three students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from disclosing security vulnerabilities in the MBTA's CharlieCard system; the decision was controversial, and resulting press attention resulted in further publicity of the security lapse.[7]

In 2009, Woodlock presided over the criminal proceedings against Albert Gonzalez, who pleaded guilty to hacking multiple corporate computer systems to steal millions of payment card numbers.[12]

Woodlock was the judge who presided over litigation between the South Middlesex Opportunity Council, an anti-poverty group, and the Town of Framingham and its officials. The Opportunity Council filed suit in 2007, alleging that the town government had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and federal fair housing laws by, among other things, delaying the permitting process for the construction of housing for recovering drug addicts and homeless veterans. In 2010, Woodlock issued a lengthy opinion denying the town's motion to dismiss the suit, and the parties reached a settlement the following month, in which the Town paid $1 million and agreed to have officials undergo civil rights training.[13]

In 2010, Woodlock accepted the guilty plea of Dianne Wilkerson, a former member of the Massachusetts Senate who pleaded guilty to attempted extortion and admitted that she had accepted bribes,[14] and the next year, Woodlock sentenced her to three and a half years in prison.[15] Also in 2011, Woodlock sentenced former Boston city council Chuck Turner to three years in prison for accepting a $1,000 bribe, citing Turner's false statements to the FBI and "ludicrously perjurious testimony" as reasons for the sentence.[16]

In 2012, Woodlock sentenced Catherine E. Greig, the longtime companion of Boston organized crime figure James "Whitey" Bulger, to eight years in jail. Greig pleaded guilty to harboring Bulger while he was a fugitive from justice.[17] The sentence was affirmed on appeal.[18]

In 2014, Woodlock oversaw the trials of two friends of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who were convicted of obstruction of justice for destroying evidence and lying to authorities who were investigating the crime.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e Andrew Ryan, On bench, Woodlock taps life experiences: Judge shows compassion, toughness, Boston Globe (January 27, 2011).
  2. ^ "Patricia Powers To Be the Bride Of Yale Senior". The New York Times. April 3, 1969. p. 37. Retrieved May 4, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e Douglas Preston Woodlock at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  4. ^ PN1030 — Douglas P. Woodlock — The Judiciary, 99th Congress (1985-1986),
  5. ^ a b Milton J. Valencia, Federal judge set to reduce court role, Boston Globe (January 14, 2015).
  6. ^ Jane Holtz Kay, The Courthouse as a Bastion Against Terror, New York Times (January 31, 1999).
  7. ^ a b Nik DeCosta-Klipa, US District Judge Woodlock to Take Senior Status, Boston Globe (January 13, 2015).
  8. ^ The Hon. Douglas P. Woodlock, American Law Institute.
  9. ^ Sam Goldaper, Court Bars Radja From Playing for the Celtics, New York Times (September 27, 1989).
  10. ^ a b Tim Weiner, U.S. Judge Orders Ex-Guatemala General to Pay $47.5 Million, New York Times (April 13, 1995).
  11. ^ Shelly Murphy, Translator sentenced in Guantanamo documents case, Boston Globe (February 19, 2005).
  12. ^ Additional Guilty Plea by Hacker in Thefts, Reuters (December 29, 2009).
  13. ^ Eric Noonan, Antipoverty group to get $1m in suit: Said town violated clients' civil rights, Boston Globe (October 27, 2010).
  14. ^ Jonathan Saltzman & Travis Andersen, Wilkerson admits she took $23,500: Prosecutors seek up to 4-year term, Boston Globe (June 4, 2010).
  15. ^ Dianne Wilkerson Sentenced to 3 1/2 Years in Prison, Associated Press (February 27, 2014).
  16. ^ Andrew Ryan, Turner sentenced to 3 years in prison: Judge delivers a stern reproach, Boston Globe (January 26, 2011).
  17. ^ Jess Bidgood, Girlfriend of Crime Boss Gets 8-Year Prison Sentence, New York Times (June 12, 2012).
  18. ^ John R. Ellement, Catherine E. Greig's 8-year-prison sentence was justified, federal court rules, Boston Globe (May 17, 2013).


Legal offices
Preceded by
Wendell Arthur Garrity Jr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts