Nicholas Garaufis

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Nicholas Garaufis
Nicholas Garaufis.jpg
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Assumed office
October 1, 2014
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
In office
May 25, 2000 – October 1, 2014
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by Charles P. Sifton
Succeeded by LaShann Moutique DeArcy Hall
Personal details
Born Nicholas George Garaufis
1948 (age 69–70)
Paterson, New Jersey
Education Columbia University (B.A.)
Columbia Law School (J.D.)

Nicholas George Garaufis (born 1948) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.


Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Garaufis graduated from Columbia College of Columbia University in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and received his Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School in 1974. He taught in the New York City public schools prior to receiving his Juris Doctor.


Garaufis began his legal career in 1974 as an associate of Chadbourne & Parke. He also served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Litigation Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s office under Attorney General Louis J. Lefkowitz and has practiced law privately in Queens County, New York. Garaufis served for more than five years as the Chief Counsel of the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, D.C., overseeing a staff of 200 attorneys. Prior to his appointment to the Clinton Administration in June, 1995, Garaufis served for nine years as counsel to Queens Borough President Claire Shulman in New York City.

Federal judicial service[edit]

Upon the recommendation of United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Garaufis was nominated by President Clinton on February 28, 2000, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York vacated by Charles P. Sifton and confirmed by unanimous consent by the United States Senate on May 24, 2000. Garaufis received his commission on May 25, 2000 and entered service on August 28, 2000. Garaufis took senior status on October 1, 2014.

New York Fire Department hiring case[edit]

On July 16, 2012, Garaufis ordered the New York City Fire Department to implement racial quotas to address grievances from minorities who failed entrance exams. His ruling requires hiring off a list of priority hire candidates, two of every five newly hired firefighters to be black and one of every five Hispanic, until the department has fulfilled the court-ordered quota of 186 black and 107 Hispanic hires or until the list is exhausted. This is due to a lawsuit that alleges two placement exams (Written Exams 7029 or 2043) for the FDNY were discriminatory against blacks and Hispanics, because fewer minorities passed the exam than whites.[1] The dropout rate for admitted applicants at the FDNY training academy subsequently doubled and injuries increased, following the implementation of his suggestions.[2] A panel of Appeals Court judges later removed Judge Garaufis from aspects of the case, with one judge writing that "an objective observer would have a reasonable basis to question [Judge Garaufis'] impartiality in assessing the evidence at trial."[3] Judge Garaufis had, during the trial, referred to the Fire Department as a "bastion of white male privilege."[3]

Bryant Neal Vinas terrorism case[edit]

On May 11, 2017, Garaufis sentenced Bryant Neal Vinas to time served for providing material support for terrorism, giving the highly cooperative informant three months more in prison before beginning a life on probation.[4]

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals[edit]

In 2017, Garaufis heard a case brought by the National Immigration Law Center, among others, on behalf of several illegal aliens who were brought to the United States as children, challenging the Trump administration's decision to suspend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He pointedly commented to lawyers arguing on behalf of the Government: "You can't come into court to espouse a position that is heartless."[5] Responding to United States Department of Justice lawyers who declined to extend an October 5, 2017 deadline for DACA recipients to reapply, Garaufis responded in what The New York Times called a sarcastic statement: "I’m just glad I was born in Paterson, N.J., not Mexico City."[6]

On February 12, 2018, Garaufis issued an injunction ordering the Trump administration to keep DACA, in agreement with the plaintiffs' argument that Trump's decision to rescind DACA was "arbitrary and capricious."[7]


  1. ^ Harrington, Elizabeth. "Federal Judge Imposes Racial Quota on FDNY, Responding to Minorities Who Failed Entrance Exams". CNS News. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  2. ^ Schwirtz, Michael (2013-12-04). "For New York City Fire Department, More Diversity Amid Tension". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b Secret, Mosi; Weiser, Benjamin (2013-05-14). "Appeals Court Says Judge Went Too Far in Forcing Fire Dept. to Revamp its Hiring". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  4. ^ Hays, Tom (May 11, 2017). "Al-Qaida member who flipped and helped US gets time served". Associated Press. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  5. ^ Keshner, Andrew (2017-09-26). "Brooklyn judge blasts feds as 'heartless' over refusal to change DACA deadline". New York Daily News. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  6. ^ Feuer, Alan (October 12, 2017). "As DACA Negotiations Drag On, a Judge in Brooklyn Could Intervene". The New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  7. ^ Feuer, Alan (February 13, 2018). "Second Federal Judge Issues Injunction to Keep DACA in Place". The New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2018.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Charles P. Sifton
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Succeeded by
LaShann Moutique DeArcy Hall