Loretta Preska

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Loretta Preska
Loretta A. Preska.jpg
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Assumed office
March 1, 2017
Preceded byThomas P. Griesa
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
In office
2009 – May 31, 2016
Preceded byKimba Wood
Succeeded byColleen McMahon
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
In office
August 12, 1992 – March 1, 2017
Appointed byGeorge H. W. Bush
Preceded byRobert Joseph Ward
Succeeded byMary Kay Vyskocil
Personal details
Born (1949-01-07) January 7, 1949 (age 71)
Albany, New York
EducationCollege of Saint Rose (B.A.)
Fordham University School of Law (J.D.)
New York University School of Law (LL.M.)

Loretta A. Preska (born January 7, 1949) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Education and career[edit]

Albany-born Loretta Preska attended the College of Saint Rose (Bachelor of Arts 1970), Fordham University School of Law (Juris Doctor 1973),[1] and New York University School of Law (Master of Laws 1978). Preska was an attorney in private practice in New York City from 1973 until 1992, initially with Cahill Gordon & Reindel and then with Hertzog, Calamari & Gleason (now Winston & Strawn).[2]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Preska was nominated by President George H. W. Bush on March 31, 1992, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated by Judge Robert Joseph Ward. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 11, 1992, and received her commission on August 12. Preska served as Chief Judge of her court for a seven-year term from June 1, 2009 to May 31, 2016. She took senior status on March 1, 2017.[2]

Consideration for higher courts[edit]

In 2007, it was reported that Judge Preska was on President Bush's short list of potential Supreme Court nominees.[3] On September 9, 2008, Preska was nominated by President George W. Bush to be a United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.[4] As Preska was nominated after July 1, 2008, the unofficial start date of the Thurmond Rule during a presidential election year,[clarification needed] no hearings were scheduled on her nomination, and the nomination was returned to Bush at the end of his term.[citation needed]

Notable cases[edit]

  • On December 20, 1996, in Leibovitz v. Paramount Pictures Corp., Preska ruled that an image of the actor Leslie Nielsen seemingly pregnant that mimicked a similar photo of Demi Moore was fair use as parody. Her ruling was upheld by the Second Circuit.[5]
  • MasterCard v. FIFA – In 2006, MasterCard sued FIFA for awarding a sponsorship deal to its rival Visa. MasterCard had held a sponsorship contract with FIFA for the previous 16 years, reportedly worth $100 million and covering "first right to acquire," giving MasterCard a right of first refusal to obtain exclusive sponsorship rights in subsequent years. During negotiations of a new deal, FIFA fed information to Visa, who subsequently won that contract. Preska sided with MasterCard, ruling that FIFA was in breach of contract.
  • Bloomberg L.P. v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System[6] — In 2009 Preska presided over this suit sought under the Freedom of Information Act to require the Federal Reserve System to divulge the names of private financial institutions that received $1.2 trillion in public bailout money, along with the types and amounts of collateral provided. On August 24, 2009, Preska ruled against the Federal Reserve's attempts to block the release of the recipient names.[7]
  • Somali pirate Abduwali Muse — arraigned before Preska in 2009,[8] who later in 2011 sentenced him to 33 years in prison.[9]
  • Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani — On June 9, 2009, Judge Preska heard the plea of the first detainee brought from Guantánamo Bay Military Prison to stand trial in a U.S. civilian court.[10] According to the New York Times report of the case the military had charged that from 2001 until 2004 he worked as a document forger for Al-Qaeda, preparing passports, travel and identification documents for operatives to use in carrying out terrorist acts. Other military charges that had been made in the Guantánamo detainee case were that he received weapons and explosives training at Osama's training camp in Afghanistan in late 1998 and years later worked as a bodyguard and cook for Osama bin Laden.[11] President Barack Obama ordered the civilian trial as part of his election promise to close the prison known for torture and indefinite detention. The case was moved to Federal court after the military charges were dropped. Standing in Preska's New York courtroom he pleaded not guilty to federal conspiracy charges. His trial and sentencing were conducted by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the same court; he was convicted of one count of conspiracy in the 1998 United States embassy bombings in East Africa and acquitted of the other 284 counts, and sentenced to life in prison.[citation needed]
  • Susan Lindauer — Charged as an unregistered foreign lobbyist for her peace mission to Iraq. According to the New York Times report of September 16, 2008, Ms. Lindauer was released after Judge Preska ruled her mentally unfit to stand trial, saying that she was "highly intelligent" and "generally capable of functioning at a high level in many ways," but was also suffering from a mental disease or defect. As a result, the judge said, Ms. Lindauer was "unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against her or to assist properly in her defense."[12]
  • Hector Xavier Monsegur — On March 9, 2012, Preska presided over the case of the hactivist who participated in activities with some members of the online group Anonymous. It was made public on March 9 that Monsegur, known online as Sabu, was cooperating with the FBI in exchange for dismissal of other charges against him, including attempted drug-dealing for five pounds of marijuana and illegal gun possession, receiving stolen property, hacking an online casino and $15,000 of fraudulent credit card charges, according to a plea deal, reported by Bloomberg News. The agreement, which was made public, stated that Federal charges against the 28-year-old would be dropped.

According to FBI documents his role as Sabu was key to charging activist Jeremy Hammond.[13][14]

  • Jeremy Hammond – the activist accused of gaining unauthorized access to Stratfor's computer systems, was denied bail by Preska; who warned that he could face life imprisonment.[15][16] Hammond unsuccessfully sought to have Preska recuse herself, given that information about Preska's husband, Thomas Kavaler, was released in the leak and given that Kavaler has worked in the past with many Stratfor clients.[17] However, Preska's husband stated the only information released was his publicly available work e-mail address.[18]
  • Microsoft objected to a warrant for e-mail records issued as part of a federal criminal investigation, arguing that the data is stored on servers in Ireland and therefore protected from United States access without an Irish warrant, but on July 31, 2014 Judge Preska ruled at the conclusion of a two-hour court hearing that the data must be turned over to United States authorities, saying "It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information."[19][20] On July 14, 2016, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed.[21] See Microsoft Corporation v. United States of America.
  • Virginia L. Giuffre v. Alan Dershowitz — On October 16, 2019, Preska disqualified the law firm of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP from representing Virginia Giuffre in her defamation lawsuit against professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz.[22][23]


Preska is married to Thomas J. Kavaler, with whom she attended law school. Kavaler was the editor-in-chief of the Fordham Law Review and is a partner at Cahill Gordon & Reindel.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Captain Of The Mother Court: Judge Loretta Preska". law.fordham.edu (from Law360). February 19, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Preska, Loretta A. - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov.
  3. ^ Jan Crawford Greenburg, EXCLUSIVE: Women, Minorities Top Bush's Supreme Court Short List, ABC News, June 1, 2007
  4. ^ Nominations and Withdrawals Sent to the Senate, Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov; accessed November 4, 2016.
  5. ^ "Leibovitz V. Paramount Pictures Corporation | Findlaw". Caselaw.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2016-11-04.
  6. ^ "Featured Cases :: Justia Dockets & Filings". News.justia.com. Retrieved 2016-11-04.
  7. ^ "Federal Reserve loses suit demanding transparency". Reuters. August 25, 2009.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2009-06-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Somali pirate sentenced to 33 years in US prison". BBC News. February 16, 2011.
  10. ^ Honan, Edith (2009-06-09). "First Guantanamo suspect moved to U.S. for trial". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-11-04.
  11. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (June 10, 2009). "A Plea of Not Guilty for Guantánamo Detainee". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (September 17, 2008). "Woman Accused of Iraq Ties Is Ruled Unfit for Trial Again". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Hurtado, Patricia (March 8, 2012). "'Anonymous' Hacker Won't Face Prosecution for Gun, Marijuana". Bloomberg L.P.
  14. ^ Rashid, Fahmida Y. "Sabu Wins "Stay Out Of Jail Free" Card For Another Six Months". PC Magazine.
  15. ^ "Anonymous hacker behind Stratfor attack faces life in prison" Archived 2012-11-24 at the Wayback Machine, Rt.com, November 23, 2012.
  16. ^ "Chicago man denied bail before NYC hacking trial" Archived 2012-11-24 at the Wayback Machine, Chicagotribune.com, November 21, 2012.
  17. ^ "The Other Bradley Manning: Jeremy Hammond Faces Life Term For WikiLeaks and Hacked Stratfor Emails", DemocracyNow.org, December 27, 2012
  18. ^ Kavalar Affirmation, Freeanons.org; accessed November 4, 2016.
  19. ^ Joseph Ax (July 31, 2014). "Microsoft ordered by U.S. judge to submit customer's emails from abroad". Reuters.
  20. ^ Van Voris, Bob (August 1, 2014). "Microsoft Fails to Block U.S. Warrant for Ireland E-Mail". Bloomberg L.P.
  21. ^ Wingfield, Nick & Cecilia Kang,"Microsoft Wins Appeal on Overseas Data Searches", The New York Times, July 14, 2016.
  22. ^ "Giuffre v. Dershowitz, No. 1:2019cv03377 - Document 67 (S.D.N.Y. 2019)". Justia Law. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  23. ^ Saul, Emily (2019-10-16). "Virginia Giuffre can move forward with suit against Alan Dershowitz: judge". New York Post. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  24. ^ Loretta Preska Weds Thomas J. Kavaler, a Fellow Lawyer, Nytimes.com, September 12, 1983.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Robert Joseph Ward
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Succeeded by
Mary Kay Vyskocil
Preceded by
Kimba Wood
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Succeeded by
Colleen McMahon