Richard J. Holwell

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Richard James Holwell (born 1946) is a former United States federal judge for the Southern District of New York. Holwell resigned from the bench on February 7, 2012.[1]

Born in New York, New York, Holwell received a B.A. from Villanova University in 1967 and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law in 1970. He graduated from Cambridge University School of Criminology in 1971.[2] He was in private practice of law in New York, NY from 1971 to 2003, becoming a partner at White & Case LLP. There, his practice concentrated on securities, antitrust, bankruptcy and financial-market matters, as well as civil and criminal investigations before the Securities and Exchange Commission, Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission.[3] Holwell also represented former New York governor George Pataki in a case that upheld the governor's authority to remove a district attorney who opposed the death penalty.[4]

On August 1, 2002, Holwell was nominated by President George W. Bush to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, vacated by Barrington D. Parker, Jr.. The initial nomination having not succeeded, Holwell was renominated for the position on January 7, 2003 and was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 17, 2003, after the White House and New York senator Charles Schumer resolved a long-running feud over the selection process for New York judges.[5] Holwell received his commission on September 22, 2003.

On February 7, 2012, Holwell announced that he was leaving the bench to found Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP, a boutique commercial litigation firm, with two former Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP partners.[6]

Noteworthy cases[edit]

  • In August 2008, Holwell granted habeas corpus relief to a prisoner with a history of mental illness who had served nine years in prison for stealing eight dollars. Holwell ruled that a New York state court violated the prisoner's due process rights when it refused to allow him to contest a social worker's conclusion that he was competent to stand trial.[7]
  • In April 2008, Holwell ruled that New York City could lawfully require fast food restaurants to post calorie information on their menus.[8]
  • In March 2007, Holwell issued an opinion on the res judicata effects of U.S. class action judgments in jurisdictions outside the U.S., ruling that certain European plaintiffs could join a shareholder lawsuit against Vivendi that asserted claims under U.S. law.[9]
  • In January 2004, Holwell ordered the federal Bureau of Prisons to reconsider a policy that precluded a prisoner from being assigned to a halfway house until 90% of his sentence was served.[10]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Federal Judicial Center, Judges of the United States Courts: Richard Holwell,
  3. ^ Hearing on the Nominations of Federal District Judges 107th Cong. (July 22, 2003) (statement of Senator Orrin G. Hatch), available at; News Release, White & Case's Richard J. Holwell Named Judge for the Southern District of NY (Sept. 23, 2003), available at
  4. ^ Gary Spencer, Pataki's Removal Of Prosecutor Upheld: Court, 4-3, Allows Action In Capital Case, N.Y.L.J. Dec. 5, 1997, at 1.
  5. ^ Tom Brune, Accord on Judicial Nominees for NY, Newsday, July 23, 2006, at A16; Daniel Wise, Judge-Picking Dispute Delays Six Nominees; Schumer, Pataki Closing In on Power-Sharing Deal, N.Y.L.J. June 26, 2003, at 1; Federal Judicial Center, Judges of the United States Courts: Richard Holwell,
  6. ^ [1], Judge in Rajaratnam Insider Trading Trial to Step Down From Bench
  7. ^ Lewis v. Zon, No. 03 Civ. 8359 (RJH) (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 28, 2008).
  8. ^ New York State Restaurant Association v. New York City Board of Health, No. 08 Civ. 1000 (RJH) (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 16, 2008).
  9. ^ In re Vivendi Universal, S.A. Securities Litigation, No. 02 Civ. 5571 (RJH) (HBP) (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 23, 2007). See Martha Graybow, Lifting the Lid--Vivendi Case Shows U.S. Class Actions Going Global, Reuters, Jun 21, 2007.
  10. ^ Daniel Wise, Prison Bureau’s Halfway House Rule Rejected, N.Y.L.J., Jan. 23, 2004.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Barrington Daniels Parker, Jr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Succeeded by
Valerie E. Caproni