Lewis A. Kaplan

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Lewis A. Kaplan
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Assumed office
February 1, 2011
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
In office
August 10, 1994 – February 1, 2011
Appointed byBill Clinton
Preceded byGerard Louis Goettel
Succeeded byRonnie Abrams
Personal details
Born (1944-12-23) December 23, 1944 (age 73)
Staten Island, New York
EducationUniversity of Rochester (A.B.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)

Lewis A. Kaplan (born December 23, 1944)[1] is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He took senior status on February 1, 2011.

Education and career[edit]

Born in Staten Island, New York, Kaplan received an Artium Baccalaureus degree from the University of Rochester in 1966 and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1969. He served as a law clerk for Judge Edward McEntee of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, from 1969 to 1970. Kaplan was in private practice in New York City from 1970 to 1994 and was a Special Master for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, from 1982 to 1983.

Federal judicial service[edit]

On May 5, 1994, Kaplan was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated by Judge Gerard Louis Goettel. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 9, 1994, and received his commission on August 10, 1994. He took senior status on February 1, 2011, and was succeeded by Judge Ronnie Abrams.

Notable cases[edit]

Kaplan presided over the first case where charges against Guantanamo captives were laid in a civilian court. On February 9, 2010, Kaplan ordered Ahmed Ghailani's prosecution to review the record of Ghailani's detention in the CIA's network of black sites.[2] According to the New York Times any materials that show the decisions "were for a purpose other than national security," must be turned over to Ghailani's lawyers.

Kaplan denied a motion to dismiss the charges on the grounds that due to Ghailani's long extrajudicial detention he was denied the constitutional right to a speedy trial, ruling that his extended incarceration had no adverse impact on Mr. Ghailani's ability to defend himself. This cleared the way for federal prosecutors to try him for his suspected role in Al Qaeda's 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.[3]

The New York Times reported that Kaplan's ruling could set a precedent for the cases of other Guantanamo captives, who, like Ghailani, are transferred to the civilian justice system. On January 25, 2011, Kaplan sentenced Ghailani to life, and called the attacks "horrific" and saying the deaths and damage they caused far outweighs "any and all considerations that have been advanced on behalf of the defendant." He also ordered Ghailani to pay $33 million as restitution.[4]

Working in New York City, Kaplan had been the judge in a number of federal racketeering cases involving Mafia members. In April 2010, Judge Kaplan was assigned to preside over the cases of 14 Gambino crime family members arrested on charges, among others, of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, witness tampering (in the 1992 trial of John Gotti), and sex trafficking of a minor.

In 2016-2017 Kaplan presided over US v. Spoutz, one of the first cases of successful prosecution of attributed artwork in the United States. Eric Spoutz, an art dealer, plead guilty to one count of wire fraud related to the sale of falsely attributed artwork accompanied by forged provenance documents. Kaplan sentenced him to 41 months in federal prison and ordered to forfeit the $1.45 million he made from the scheme and pay $154,100 in restitution.[5]

Kaplan has presided over a number of well-known cases at the district level, including Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., Universal v. Reimerdes, Five Borough Bicycle Club v. The City of New York, The People v. Ahmed Ghailani, and Crandell v. New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Inc, Marquis Who's Who (1 October 1983). "Who's Who in American Law". Marquis Who's Who – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Benjamin Weiser (2010-02-10). "U.S. Told to Review Files on Terror Case Detention". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2010-02-11.
  3. ^ Benjamin Weiser (2010-07-13). "Judge Refuses to Dismiss Terror Suspect's Case". New York Times.
  4. ^ "Gitmo Detainee Gets Life Sentence in Embassy Plot".
  5. ^ "Forging Papers to Sell Fake Art". Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release). April 6, 2017.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Gerard Louis Goettel
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Succeeded by
Ronnie Abrams