Judge Ralph K. Winter Receives 2017 Devitt Award
Senior Judge Ralph K. Winter of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit was presented with the 2017 Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award in a special ceremony recently at the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse in New York.
In a letter to Judge Winter, which Justice Anthony M. Kennedy read aloud at the award ceremony, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. said: “You have unfailingly confronted difficult questions and undertakings on and off the bench with keen intellect, good humor, and fundamental decency.” The Chief Justice was unable to attend the ceremony due to a prior commitment.
Along with Justice Kennedy, present at the award event were Justice Elena Kagan, who chaired the Devitt Award Selection Committee, and Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor.
“That five Justices would come to the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse in New York to participate in the Devitt Award ceremony is impressive testament to Judge Winter’s sustained and varied contributions to the federal judiciary over three and a half decades,” said Second Circuit Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann. “It has been a privilege and a joy for our Court to have Ralph Winter as our colleague.”
Justice Ginsburg, who is the Circuit Justice for the Second Circuit, said: “In the legal academy and as a judge, Ralph Winter is held in the highest regard for his bright mind, lively spirit, sage judgment, and geniality.”
Senior Judge Jon O. Newman, who preceded Winter as chief judge, called Winter “one of the nation’s most outstanding judges,” and noted that although he and Winter have served together on the Second Circuit for 35 years, each dissented only once from an opinion the other wrote.
Judge Winter was appointed to the Circuit in 1981 and served as chief judge from 1997 to 2000. He was a full-time member of the Yale Law School faculty from 1962 until he joined the court. He served as a law clerk to Judge Thurgood Marshall in 1961-62.
Judge Winter served the Judicial Conference in many capacities, including as both a member and chair of its Executive Committee, and as chair of the Advisory Committee on the Rules of Evidence. Judge Winter chaired the Committee to Review Circuit Judicial Council Conduct and Disability Orders from 2005 to 2008 and was a member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review from 2003 to 2010.
The Devitt Award honors an Article III judge who has achieved a distinguished career and made significant contributions to the administration of justice, the advancement of the rule of law, and the improvement of society as a whole. It is named for the late Edward J. Devitt, the longtime chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Minnesota. The award was established in 1982 and is given by the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation.