By Larry Neumeister and Devlin Barrett
The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — The White House plans to nominate the judge who presided over the Bernard Madoff case to the appeals court that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor served on, Sen. Charles Schumer said on Sept. 9.
In a statement, Schumer said that his office told the White House that U.S. District Judge Denny Chin “would be an outstanding choice” for an appointment to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.
The opening on the appeals court was created when Sotomayor was elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court. She heard her first case as a justice on Sept. 9.
Chin, 55, sentenced Madoff this summer to 150 years in prison for cheating thousands of people out of billions of dollars.
Schumer praised Chin in his two-sentence statement, saying: “Even in the most high-profile of cases, he has been unflappable, erudite and steadily applied the law.” Chin did not comment publicly on Schumer’s statement.
Chin was celebrated for his decision to jail 71-year-old Madoff immediately after he pleaded guilty to fraud charges in March and for sentencing him to the maximum prison term in June. Yet Chin also has gained respect for his compassion on the bench.
In November 2007, he cited then-83-year-old Oscar Wyatt Jr.’s age and military service during World War II as he sentenced the Texas oilman to a year and a day in prison for his role in the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal.
Nine months earlier, he reversed a jury verdict, saying evidence did not support the fraud conviction of a former New York Stock Exchange floor supervisor who once oversaw all trading in General Electric Co. stock.
In 2003, he tossed out evidence in an “Operation Candyman” Internet child pornography probe that had resulted in more than 100 arrests. He cited FBI failings in the way the case was built.
Chin, born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, was raised in Manhattan after his parents moved here when he was two. He has been a federal judge since Aug. 10, 1994. He was appointed by President Clinton.
A 1975 graduate of Princeton University who got his law degree in 1978 from the Fordham University School of Law, Chin worked as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan from 1982 to 1986 before entering private practice until his appointment to the federal judgeship.
He currently is presiding over a controversial $125 million settlement that would let Google operate a digital database containing millions of copyright-protected books, including titles no longer being published. A hearing is set for Oct. 7.
But he will perhaps always be best known for his sentencing in the Madoff matter, when he labeled Madoff’s multi-decade deception of everyone from financially unsophisticated retirees to some of Wall Street’s brightest minds an “extraordinarily evil” crime that took a “staggering human toll.” ♦