Kimba Wood

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Kimba Wood
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Assumed office
June 1, 2009
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
In office
August 1, 2006 – June 1, 2009
Preceded byMichael Mukasey
Succeeded byLoretta A. Preska
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
In office
April 20, 1988 – June 1, 2009
Appointed byRonald Reagan
Preceded byConstance Baker Motley
Succeeded byVincent L. Briccetti
Personal details
Kimba Maureen Wood

(1944-01-21) January 21, 1944 (age 75)
Port Townsend, Washington, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic[1]
EducationConnecticut College (BA)
London School of Economics (MSc)
Harvard University (JD)

Kimba Maureen Wood (born January 21, 1944)[2][3] is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.[4][5] Wood has presided over many high profile cases including "Junk Bond King" Michael Milken, Republican majority leader of the New York State Senate Dean Skelos, and Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen.[4] She is known for being soft spoken and straightforward.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Wood was born in Port Townsend, Washington.[3] Wood was named for the small town of Kimba, South Australia, which her mother saw in an atlas.[6] Her father was a career officer and speechwriter in the United States Army.[6] Wood lived in Europe during her youth, where her father was stationed in several places, and she received early education at the Sorbonne.[6]

In 1965, Wood graduated cum laude from Connecticut College with a bachelor's degree in government.[7] In 1966, she received a Master of Science in political theory from the London School of Economics.[7] While in London, she spent five days training as a Playboy bunny, but quit before beginning to work at a club.[6] She then earned a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1969, where there were fewer than twenty women in her class.[6][8]


From 1969 to 1970, Wood was in private practice in Washington, D.C., working at Steptoe & Johnson where she was the only female attorney.[2] From 1970 to 1971, she worked at the Office of Economic Opportunity. After relocating to New York City in 1971, Wood returned to private practice from 1971 to 1988, working as an anti-trust law expert at the firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leiby & MacRae.[6] She became one of the first women to break into the male-dominated world of anti-trust law, and became partner at LeBoeuf in 1978.[2][3]

Federal judicial service[edit]

On December 18, 1987, based upon a recommendation from Senator Al D'Amato,[6] Wood was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated by Judge Constance Baker Motley. Wood was confirmed by a unanimous United States Senate on April 19, 1988, and received her commission on April 20, 1988. She entered on duty on July 28, 1988.[9] Wood was a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States from 2006-2007.[3] She served as Chief Judge from 2006 to 2009 and assumed senior status on June 1, 2009.[3]

Proposed nomination as Attorney General[edit]

In the Nannygate matter of 1993, Wood was Bill Clinton's second unsuccessful choice for United States Attorney General.[10] Like Clinton's previous nominee, Zoë Baird, Wood had hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny, but unlike Baird, she had paid the required taxes on the employee. Wood employed the illegal immigrant at a time when it was legal to do so, before the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 made the hiring of illegal immigrants unlawful.[11] The threat of a repetition of the same controversy nevertheless led to the hasty withdrawal of Wood from consideration.[12] Janet Reno was later nominated and confirmed for the post. White House officials said they were angry at Wood because she had not told Clinton and other officials about the nanny, even when she had been directly asked. In her statement, however, Wood said she had not misled the White House.[12]

Notable cases[edit]

One of Wood's notable decisions was sentencing Michael Milken, known as "The Junk Bond King", in 1990 to ten years in prison.[13] In 1991, Milken's sentence was reduced to two years' imprisonment and three years' probation at the request of prosecutors, to reward his cooperation in other investigations.[14]

In 1998, Wood presided over the case of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem v. Christie's, Inc., in which the ownership of the Archimedes Palimpsest was disputed. Wood also later presided over Leonard v. Pepsico, Inc., 88 F. Supp 2d 116 (S.D.N.Y. 1996), more widely known as the Pepsi Points Case.

On July 8, 2010, Wood was the presiding judge over the US case against ten alleged Russian 'illegals' involved in the Illegals program.[15] She accepted the defendants' guilty pleas and sentenced all ten to time served. The ten were then deported and exchanged for four prisoners previously held in Russia.[15][16][17]

On October 26, 2010, Wood issued an injunction in Arista Records LLC v. Lime Group LLC, forcing LimeWire to disable "the searching, downloading, uploading, file trading and/or file distribution functionality, and/or all functionality" of its software.[18] A trial investigating the damages necessary to compensate the affected record labels was held in 2011 and ended in a negotiated settlement.[19]

On November 19, 2010, Wood received attention in connection with a letter to the court from Bennet M. Epstein, an attorney, who asked for time off from a trial to attend his then-unborn grandson's bris, if the baby proved to be a boy. In response, Wood wrote that Epstein would be permitted to attend the bris, but that "if a daughter is born, there will be a public celebration in court, with readings from poetry celebrating girls and women."[20]

In 2016, Wood presided over the case against Dean Skelos, Republican majority leader of the New York State Senate, who was accused of federal corruption charges.[21]

In April 2018, Wood was assigned to preside over motions arising out of the search pursuant to warrant of the home and office of Michael Cohen, a personal attorney for Donald Trump.[22]

Personal life[edit]

In 1970, Wood married Robert Lovejoy, a partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell. She went by the name Kimba Wood Lovejoy from 1970 to 1982, until the time of their divorce.[6][23] In 1982, Wood married Time magazine political columnist Michael Kramer.[6] They had a son, Ben, in 1986.[6] The marriage ended in divorce. After separating from Kramer, Wood and former Harvard Law School classmate Frank E. Richardson II began dating. In 1995, Wood was named as a co-respondent in Richardson's high profile divorce battle, where Richardson's diaries describing his relationship with Wood were made public.[6] In 1999, Wood married Richardson.[24]

Leadership roles[edit]

  • 2000-2001: Amherst College Board of Trustees[25]
  • Harvard Law School Association of New York City, President (1 year term)[8]

Works and publications[edit]

  • Wood, Kimba M. (January 1993). "Transitional Advisory Guidelines". Federal Sentencing Reporter. 5 (4): 191–191. doi:10.2307/20639550. ISSN 1053-9867. JSTOR 20639550. OCLC 5546979730.
  • Wood, Kimba M. (May 1994). "Verbatim: The front end of the problem: Salvaging the next generation of children" (Excerpt of Commencement address). Connecticut College Magazine. Connecticut College. 3 (6): 18–19.
  • Wood, Kimba M. (1996). "Reexamining the Access Doctrine". Southern California Law Review. 63 (3). ISSN 0038-3910. OCLC 90888693.
  • Wood, Kimba M.; Hayes, Roger S.; Carroll, John (November 1990). "United States v. Michael Milken, (S) 89 Cr. 41 (KMW) (S.D.N.Y. November 21, 1990)". Federal Sentencing Reporter. 3 (3): 158–166. doi:10.2307/20639317. ISSN 1053-9867. JSTOR 20639317. OCLC 5546984287.


  1. ^ Hearing the Cohen Case: A Soft-Spoken Judge Who ‘Carries a Big Stick’
  2. ^ a b c Cohen, Warren (May 1994). "A Judge of Character". Connecticut College Magazine. Connecticut College. 3 (6): 20–25.
  3. ^ a b c d e Kimba Maureen Wood at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  4. ^ a b c Feuer, Alan; Weiser, Benjamin (18 April 2018). "Hearing the Cohen Case: A Soft-Spoken Judge Who 'Carries a Big Stick'". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Judge Kimba Wood a Veteran of Big Cases Long Before Cohen". The New York Times. The Associated Press. 19 April 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Saltonstall, Dave (6 August 1995). "Quite An 'Other Woman' Brilliant Judge'll Survive Steamy Divorce Scandal". New York Daily News.
  7. ^ a b Rubin, Ben (16 November 1993). "Connecticut College graduate returns to deliver 1994 Commencement address: Judge Kimba Wood to speak at 1994 Commencement". College Voice. Connecticut College. XVII (10): 1, 8.
  8. ^ a b "Profile: U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood '69". Harvard Law Bulletin. Fall 1997. Archived from the original on 14 October 1999.
  9. ^ Alexander, Vincent C.; Alexander, Anne D., eds. (2003). "Kimba M. Wood". Second Circuit Redbook. Federal Bar Council. ISSN 0146-163X. OCLC 762207929.
  10. ^ Ostrow, Ronald J.; Lauter, David (5 February 1993). "N.Y. Judge Said to Top Attorney General List". Los Angeles Times.
  11. ^ Pear, Robert (6 February 1993). "Judge's Hiring of Illegal Alien in 80's Did Not Violate Immigration Law". The New York Times.
  12. ^ a b Berke, Richard L. (6 February 1993). "Judge Withdraws from Clinton List for Justice Post". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Eichenwald, Kurt (22 November 1990). "The Milken Sentence; Milken Gets 10 Years for Wall St. Crimes". The New York Times. p. A00001.
  14. ^ Sullivan, Ronald (6 August 1992). "Milken's Sentence Reduced by Judge; 7 Months Are Left". The New York Times. p. A00001.
  15. ^ a b Sheridan, Mary Beth; Markon, Jerry (9 July 2010). "U.S., Russia reach deal on exchanging spies". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (16 July 2010). "Spy Swap Forced Prosecutors Into Balancing Act". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Baker, Peter; Weiser, Benjamin (8 July 2010). "Russian Spy Suspects Plead Guilty as Part of a Swap". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Halliday, Josh (27 October 2010). "LimeWire shut down by federal court". The Guardian.
  19. ^ Bangeman, Eric (26 October 2010). "Sour ruling for LimeWire as court says to turn off P2P functionality". Ars Technica.
  20. ^ Goldberg, Jeffrey (19 November 2010). "Judge Kimba Wood, Standing Up for Women". The Atlantic.
  21. ^ Weiser, Benjamin; Yee, Vivian (12 May 2016). "Dean Skelos Is Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison in Corruption Case". The New York Times.
  22. ^ Nahmias, Laura; Gerstein, Josh (13 April 2018). "Cohen ordered to disclose client list by Monday". Politico.
  23. ^ "Kimba Wood Is Fiancee Of Jesse Robert Lovejoy". The New York Times. 22 March 1970.
  24. ^ Fanelli, James (16 April 2018). "Michael Cohen case is being heard by Judge Kimba Wood — aka the 'Love Judge'". New York Daily News.
  25. ^ "College Row: Alumna joins Trustees". Amherst Magazine. Amherst College. Winter 2001.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Constance Baker Motley
Judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Succeeded by
Vincent L. Briccetti
Preceded by
Michael Mukasey
Chief Judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Succeeded by
Loretta A. Preska