New Appointments Judge Edgardo Ramos By Russell Yankwitt

On December 15, 2011, the Senate, by a unanimous vote (89 to 0), confirmed the nomination of Edgardo Ramos to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He had been nominated on May 4, 2011, by President Barack Obama to fill the seat vacated by Judge Stephen C. Robinson. Prior to his confirmation, the American Bar Association rated him unanimously well qualified. Judge Ramos has the privilege and pleasure of sitting in The Hon. Charles L. Brieant Jr. Courthouse in White Plains, New York.

Judge Ramos was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, one of eight children. He attended Yale University as an undergraduate and received his J.D. from Harvard Law School. Upon graduation from law school, he worked as an associate for the firm of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, LLP for five years. Following his time at Simpson Thacher, Judge Ramos spent 10 years as an Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, where he tried 20 felony cases, and briefed and argued approximately 25 cases before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2002, Judge Ramos returned to private practice, joining the firm of Day Pitney LLP as partner in the Government Investigations Practice Group. While at Day Pitney, he also became a member of the Criminal Justice Act panel, representing indigent criminal defendants in the Southern District of New York. Judge Ramos has spent approximately 90 percent of his career practicing in federal court, but brings to the bench a multifaceted perspective of the process of federal litigation. His career has allowed him to appear in court as part of GTE's litigation team, defending a $1.5 billion civil lawsuit; as prosecutor against defendants that included a Colombian drug kingpin, a defense contractor submitting false claims to the government concerning the Apache Attack Helicopter, an art fraud ring, and a company illegally shipping military and police equipment overseas; and as a defense attorney for an individual accused o providing material assistance to Al Qaeda and a construction company executive charged with public corruption.

Despite having impressive educational and professional credentials, Judge Ramos' path to the bench was neither predictable nor expected. He is the first, and only, one of his seven siblings to Federal Bar Council Quarterly June/July/August 2012 22 pursue a career in the law. With respect to becoming a federal judge in White Plains, while he is thrilled with being selected for this courthouse, he candidly admits that the first time he set foot in the White Plains courthouse was after he was confirmed as a federal judge. Judge Ramos recognized that, "No one can plan on being a federal court judge." He believes that the stars simply have to align properly at the right place and time in one's both professional and personal life. In this case, the process did not lend itself to a sense of inevitability. Judge Ramos first made contact with Stephanie Martz, chief counsel to Senator Charles Schumer, in January 2010. Within six weeks he had his first interview with members of Sen. Schumer's Judicial Selection Committee and eventually with Senator Schumer. The interviews were anything but proforma. The substance and depth of the interviews were significant and substantial. Certainly, the overwhelming silence that followed in the next six months must have felt ominous. However, almost a year to the day after his first contact with the senator's office, Senator Schumer officially recommended Judge Ramos to President Obama. Judge Ramos reported that an unexpected benefit of the confirmation process was the requirement that a nominee must complete a physical, including an eye test and a hearing check. This was a good thing as far as his wife was concerned in that despite her repeated exhortations, he had not had a physical in a couple of years. In a telling example of his unassuming nature, he went to Cohen Optical to get his eyes tested.

As one of the eight new judges approved over the past year, Judge Ramos has benefitted from a new mentoring program in which each new judge in the Southern District of New York is given at least two mentors. Judge Ramos remarks that he must be "special" because he was given five, one of whom is Judge Cathy Seibel, also a former Assistant U.S. Attorney sitting in White Plains. He reports that his transition to the bench has been made immensely easier due to the extraordinary welcome he has received by colleagues and courthouse personnel. Despite taking on a docket of several hundred re-assigned cases, his new colleagues refrained from giving him cases with long outstanding motions or that were ready for trial. This has afforded Judge Ramos the opportunity to learn the cases without having to jump into an immediate trial. Judge Ramos comments regularly how fortunate he feels to serve with his colleagues, friends, and mentors: Judges Seibel, Kenneth Karas, and Vincent Briccetti.

The collegial nature of the White Plains courthouse extends to a weekly lunch in which all the judges and magistrates take part. It's easy to imagine the topic of the first of these lunches: It seems that within five minutes of his first day as an Article III Federal District Court judge, Judge Ramos found himself without the scan-card he needed to get back into his own chambers. He was literally locked in his own new courtroom.

Married, with two children, a sophomore and senior in high school, Judge Ramos seems to bring exactly what is needed to a crowded and diverse federal docket – an ability and willingness to work hard, a wide-ranging legal background, and a judicial philosophy that embodies the most important elements of a fair and balanced legal system. He sums up his belief on the appropriate qualities needed for a judge, "I believe a judge must at all times demonstrate an abiding respect for the rule of law.… Judges must also treat all parties that come before the court with respect. A judge exhibits respect for the parties by treating them courteously, by giving them a fair opportunity to be heard, and by promptly deciding the matters that come before the court."