John Gleeson (judge)

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John Gleeson
John Gleeson.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
In office
September 29, 1994 – March 9, 2016
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by Jack B. Weinstein
Personal details
Born John Gleeson
(1953-07-14) July 14, 1953 (age 63)
Bronx, New York
Education Georgetown University B.A.
University of Virginia School of Law J.D.

John Gleeson (born July 14, 1953) is a former United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Early life and education[edit]

Gleeson was born in the Bronx, New York. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. in 1975, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville in 1980.

Legal career[edit]

He was a law clerk for Boyce Martin on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from 1980 to 1981. He was in private practice of law at the firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York City from 1981 to 1985. He was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York from 1985 to 1994 where he was noted for his prosecution of Mafia cases, most notably that of Gambino crime boss John Gotti which resulted in Gotti's conviction.

Federal judicial service[edit]

Gleeson was nominated by President Bill Clinton on July 22, 1994, to a seat vacated by Jack B. Weinstein. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 28, 1994, and received his commission the next day. He served until his resignation on March 9, 2016.

Tenure as district judge[edit]

As a district judge Gleeson was a critic of harsh mandatory sentencing, going so far as to request federal prosecutors vacate convictions he had been forced to impose.[1] Judge Gleeson’s ruling against the FBI in a landmark racial profiling case was reversed by the Supreme Court of the United States in Ashcroft v. Iqbal (2009). Judge Gleason oversaw the prosecution of Jordan Belfort, famous as the “Wolf of Wall Street”.[2] In 2012 Judge Gleeson approved a deferred prosecution agreement with HSBC widely criticized as being too lenient.[1] He caused controversy in 2016 by ordering reports by the bank's independent monitor publicly disclosed.[3] In his last days on the bench Judge Gleeson, instead of issuing a writ of audita querela,[4] invented a new "federal certificate of rehabilitation" to help convicts find jobs.[5][6]


On January 4, 2016, it was announced that Gleeson plans to resign from the bench and return to private practice on March 9, 2016.[7][8] Gleeson would join white shoe firm Debevoise & Plimpton to practice white-collar crime defense.[1]


He is a supporter of "Drug Court" programs which encourage rehabilitation rather than mandatory minimum jail sentences for non-violent drug offenses.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Protess, Ben. "Prominent U.S. Judge, Known as a Maverick, is Expected to Join a White-Shoe Firm". The New York Times (February 25, 2016 on page B3). 
  2. ^ Antilla, Susan. "Most Victims are Once Bitten, Twice Shy, Except When it Coms to Fraud". The New York Times (July 24, 2014 on page B5). Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  3. ^ Henning, Peter J. "HSBC Case Tests Transparency of Deferred Prosecution Agreements". The New York Times (February 6, 2016). Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  4. ^ Palazzolo, Joe (9 October 2015). "Old Writ Could Give Ex-Offenders a New Start". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  5. ^ Palazzolo, Joe (8 March 2016). "Brooklyn Judge Issues First Federal 'Certificate of Rehabilitation'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  6. ^ Palazzolo, Joe (23 March 2016). "An Exit Interview with a Federal Trial Judge". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  7. ^ "Brooklyn Federal Judge Gleeson stepping down to practice law". 
  8. ^ Hong, Nicole (5 January 2016). "John Gleeson, Prominent Brooklyn Federal Judge, to Step Down". 
  9. ^ Secret, Mosi (2 March 2013). "Outside Box, Federal Judges Offer Addicts a Free Path". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Jack B. Weinstein
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York