Gerard E. Lynch

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Gerard Lynch
Judge of United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
In office
September 18, 2009 – September 5, 2016
Nominated by Barack Obama
Preceded by Chester Straub
Succeeded by Vacant
Judge of United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
In office
May 25, 2000 – September 18, 2009
Nominated by Bill Clinton
Preceded by John Sprizzo
Succeeded by Paul Engelmayer
Personal details
Born (1951-09-04) September 4, 1951 (age 65)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Education Columbia University (BA, JD)

Gerard Edmund Lynch (born September 4, 1951) is a Senior Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He was confirmed to that seat on September 17, 2009 after previously having been appointed in 2000 by President Bill Clinton to serve on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Lynch was the first appeals-court judge nominated by President Barack Obama to win confirmation from the United States Senate.

Lynch is also the Paul J. Kellner Professor of Law at Columbia Law School.[1]

Education and early career[edit]

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Lynch graduated from Regis High School in 1968, received his A.B. from Columbia University in 1972, and his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1975, graduating first in his class at all three institutions. He joined the Columbia faculty in 1977, following judicial clerkships for Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1975-76 and United States Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. in 1976-77. He served as assistant U.S. attorney, Southern District of New York in 1980-83, prosecuting white-collar criminal cases and serving as chief appellate attorney. He returned to that office as chief of the criminal division in 1990-92. He was in private practice of law in New York City from 1992 to 2000.

Lynch served as Vice Dean of Columbia Law School from 1992 to 1997. He has been a visiting professor or lecturer at Hebrew University of Jerusalem; National Police Academy (Tokyo); University of Tokyo; University of Buenos Aires; the Leiden University; and the University of Amsterdam. He was appointed counsel to numerous city, state, and federal commissions and special prosecutors investigating public corruption, including the Iran/Contra investigation, where among other responsibilities he briefed and argued the prosecution position in the appeal of Oliver North. He briefed and argued cases in federal appellate courts, including the Supreme Court, and as a cooperating attorney with the American and New York Civil Liberties Unions. He also has extensive experience as a defense attorney in state and federal cases.

Lynch is a member of the American Law Institute and sits on its Council. He is also a member of various bar associations and advisory committees. He has published and lectured on the federal racketeering laws, sentencing, plea bargaining and other aspects of criminal law, constitutional theory, and legal ethics. He received the student-voted Willis Reese Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1994, and in 1997 became the first member of the law faculty to receive the University-wide President's Award for Outstanding Teaching. His principal teaching and research areas include criminal law and procedure, sentencing, and professional responsibility.

Federal judicial service[edit]

On February 28, 2000, Lynch was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated by John E. Sprizzo. After Lynch was nominated to the district court in 2000, some Senate Republicans expressed concerns that he was a judicial activist, citing a previous warning in writings by Lynch warning the legal community not to overemphasize words from "18th- and 19th-century dictionaries" when interpreting the United States Constitution.[2] However, as part of a deal between Senate Democrats and Republicans that also paved the way for a vote to confirm Clinton's nomination of Republican Bradley A. Smith to the Federal Election Commission and United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit nominee Timothy B. Dyk,[3] Lynch was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 24, 2000 in a 63-36 vote,[4] and he received his commission the following day.

As a district court judge, Lynch presided over the perjury trial of rap artist Lil' Kim in 2005. He sentenced her to a year and a day in jail.[5] Judge Lynch is also an active participant in Legal Outreach, a non-for-profit organization in which he mentors inner-city kids in New York.

On April 2, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Lynch to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated when Chester J. Straub assumed senior status.[6] Lynch was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 17, 2009, by a vote of 94-3,[7] and received his commission the following day.

On May 7, 2015, Lynch wrote an opinion for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, ruling that the systematic collection of American's phone records by the NSA is illegal. He referred to the program as "an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans", advancing the national debate started by the revelations of Edward Snowden.[8]

Lynch took senior status on September 5, 2016.


  1. ^ "View Information about Law Schools on". Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  2. ^ McMurray, Jeffrey (June 29, 2000). "Sessions and judicial nominees: What goes around comes around". Associated Press. 
  3. ^ Dewar, Helen (May 24, 2000). "Senate Agrees to End Impasse on Nominees; Deal Clears Way for Judges, Many Others". Washington Post. p. A35. 
  4. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". March 28, 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Archived February 14, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Obama taps 2 more for federal appeals courts, Associated Press (April. 2, 2009).
  7. ^ Gerard Lynch confirmed for New York appeals court, Associated Press (September 17, 2009).
  8. ^


Legal offices
Preceded by
John Sprizzo
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Succeeded by
Paul Engelmayer
Preceded by
Chester Straub
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit