Second Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs ’09HON Receives Law School Alumni Association’s Honorable John E. Sprizzo Award

L-R: Nicholas M. Cannella '75, Hon. Dennis Jacobs ’09HON, and Dean Michael A. Simons
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A beautiful spring evening in the heart of Central Park was a fitting backdrop for the annual Hon. John E. Sprizzo Reception hosted by the Manhattan Chapter of the Law School Alumni Association. Over 125 St. John’s Law alumni, friends, and administrators, as well as Dean Michael A. Simons, gathered for this special event at the Loeb Boathouse that featured the presentation of the Honorable John E. Sprizzo Award to Hon. Dennis Jacobs ’09HON of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The Sprizzo Award recognizes the recipient for his or her commitment to the Rule of Law. Named in honor of its first recipient, the late Hon. John E. Sprizzo ‘59, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York, the Sprizzo Award has recognized the contributions of a number of esteemed lawyers, Including:

  • Hon. Joseph W. Bellacosa ‘61, ‘87HON
  • Hon. Hugh L. Carey ‘51, ‘67HON
  • Hon. P. Kevin Castel ‘75, ‘04HON
  • Hon. Mario M. Cuomo ’56, ’75HON
  • Hon. Raymond J. Dearie ’69, ’08HON
  • Hon. Kevin Thomas Duffy
  • Hon. Raymond W. Kelly ’71, ‘98HON
  • Hon. Robert M. Morgenthau
  • Hon. Michael B. Mukasey
  • Roy L. Reardon ‘54, ‘00HON
  • Howard J. Rubenstein ‘59, ‘90HON
  • Hon.  Chester J. Straub
  • Hon. Clarence Thomas

Judge Jacobs now joins their ranks. Raised and educated in New York City, he started his legal career at the Manhattan law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where he became a partner in 1980. He appeared in courts in New York and around the country as a litigating lawyer in commercial matters. In 1992 President Bush nominated Judge Jacobs to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that had previously been occupied by Wilfred Feinberg and, before him, by Thurgood Marshall.

During his tenure on the bench, Judge Jacobs has served in notable leadership roles. In 1997, the Chief Justice of the United States appointed him to the Judicial Resources Committee of the United States Judicial Conference, which he chaired from1999 to 2004. He succeeded John M. Walker, Jr. as Chief Judge of the Second Circuit on October 1, 2006 and served in that office until August 31, 2013.

Colleagues from the bench and bar have recognized his outstanding public service by awarding Judge Jacobs the Learned Hand Medal for excellence in jurisprudence (Federal Bar Council); the Eugene J. Keogh Award for distinguished public service (New York University); the Outstanding Public Service Award (New York Intellectual Property Law Association); and the James Madison Award (The Federalist Society). He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from St. John’s in 2009.

Remarking that his friend and colleague well deserves the honor of being the 2014 Sprizzo Award recipient, Law School Alumni Association President Nicholas M. Cannella ’75 said: ”He enlightens us all with a clarity of thought and precision of expression that embodies the very meaning of the phrase ‘the Rule of Law.’ Our judicial system— and our city—have been fortunate indeed that he has spent his career on what he calls ‘this small island in the Hudson River.’”

The 2014 Sprizzo Reception was generously sponsored by DLA Piper; Wilkie Farr & Gallagher; DeFeis O’Connell & Rose; and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

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