Loretta A. Preska

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Loretta A. Preska
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Assumed office
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Assumed office
August 12, 1992
Nominated by George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Robert Joseph Ward
Personal details
Born (1949-01-07) January 7, 1949 (age 67)
Albany, New York
Spouse(s) Thomas J. Kavaler
Alma mater
Occupation Attorney

Loretta A. Preska (born January 7, 1949) is Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and a former nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.


Judge Preska attended The College of Saint Rose (B.A. 1970), Fordham University School of Law (J.D. 1973),[1] and New York University School of Law (LL.M. 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).

Judge 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 Robert Joseph Ward. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 11, 1992, and received her commission on August 12.

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.[2]

On September 9, 2008, Judge 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.[3] Since Preska was nominated after July 1, 2008, the unofficial start date of the Thurmond Rule during a presidential election year, no hearings were scheduled on her nomination, and the nomination was returned to Bush at the end of his term.

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.[4]
  • 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[5] — In 2009 Preska presided over this suit sought under the Freedom of Information Act to require the Fed 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.[6]
  • Somali pirate Abduwali Muse — arraigned before Judge Preska in 2009,[7] who later in 2011 sentenced him to 33 years in prison.[8]
  • 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.[9] 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.[10] 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 the New York City courtroom of Judge Loretta Preska 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.
  • 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.” [11]
  • Hector Xavier Monsegur — On March 9, 2012 Judge 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 hactivist Jeremy Hammond.[12][13]
  • 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.[14][15] Hammond unsuccessfully sought to have Preska recuse herself, claiming information about her husband was released in the leak and that her husband works with Stratfor clients.[16] However, her husband stated the only information released was his publicly available work e-mail address.[17]
  • 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 the data must be turned over to United States authorities. "It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information," Preska had said at the conclusion of a two-hour court hearing.[18][19]

On the 5TH May 2009 Judge Preska took over the case of Bay City Rollers v Sony Music, but has yet to set a trial date. Judge Preska failed to recuse herself due to conflict of interests, despite her husband having worked for Sony Music[20]


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.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Captain Of The Mother Court: Judge Loretta Preska". law.fordham.edu (from Law360). February 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ Jan Crawford Greenburg, EXCLUSIVE: Women, Minorities Top Bush's Supreme Court Short List, ABC News, June 1, 2007
  3. ^ Nominations and Withdrawals Sent to the Senate
  4. ^ Leibovitz v. Paramount Pictures Corp, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, February 19, 1998
  5. ^ Bloomberg L.P. v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  6. ^ "Federal Reserve loses suit demanding transparency". Reuters. August 25, 2009. 
  7. ^ Bloomberg report on pirate hearing
  8. ^ "Somali pirate sentenced to 33 years in US prison". BBC News. February 16, 2011. 
  9. ^ Reuters report on the hearing
  10. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (June 10, 2009). "A Plea of Not Guilty for Guantánamo Detainee". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (September 17, 2008). "Woman Accused of Iraq Ties Is Ruled Unfit for Trial Again". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Hurtado, Patricia (March 8, 2012). "'Anonymous' Hacker Won't Face Prosecution for Gun, Marijuana". Bloomberg. 
  13. ^ Rashid, Fahmida Y. "Sabu Wins "Stay Out Of Jail Free" Card For Another Six Months". PC Magazine. 
  14. ^ "Anonymous hacker behind Stratfor attack faces life in prison", 23 November 2012, RT.com
  15. ^ "Chicago man denied bail before NYC hacking trial", November 21, 2012, Chicago Tribune
  16. ^ "The Other Bradley Manning: Jeremy Hammond Faces Life Term For WikiLeaks and Hacked Stratfor Emails", December 27, 2012, Democracy Now!
  17. ^ Kavalar Affirmation
  18. ^ http://rt.com/usa/177104-microsoft-preska-ireland-server/
  19. ^ Van Voris, Bob (August 1, 2014). "Microsoft Fails to Block U.S. Warrant for Ireland E-Mail". Bloomberg. 
  20. ^ http://www.buzzfeed.com/diw4c7355be8/the-bay-city-rollers-a-rock-n-roll-tragedy-1i5vx
  21. ^ Loretta Preska Weds a Fellow Lawyer, September 12, 1983


Legal offices
Preceded by
Robert Joseph Ward
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York