Jed S. Rakoff
United States District Court, Southern District of New York
Law (including the Practice of Law)
United States District Judge. Rakoff is at the cutting edge of developments in three different bodies of law. First, he is a major figure in financial regulation and the judicial response to the 2008 financial crisis. In particular, his decisions on the proposed settlements with Bank of America and Citigroup have drawn wide admiration from judges, lawyers, academics, and the public at large, both for the force and cogency of his analysis and his ability to communicate legal issues lucidly to the general public. Second, he wrote influential opinions on the unconstitutionality of the death penalty. Third, he took up national security law, including the status of Guantanamo detainees. Appellate courts have on occasion reversed or narrowed his more far-reaching decisions, but his opinions have helped frame the public debate and attracted broad support. Few members of the federal bench short of the Supreme Court have been more effective or compelling in shaping legal opinion on important topics, a fact recognized even among those who disagree with Judge Rakoff's conclusions. Today, Rakoff is a member of the MacArthur Foundation Project on Law & Neuroscience, and here too, his thinking will no doubt reshape the law on forensic evidence.