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Hon. Lewis A. Kaplan

United States District Court, Southern District of New York
United States District Judge
New York, NY, USA


Judge Kaplan was appointed United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York on August 9, 1994 and entered on duty August 22, 1994.  In 2012, he was appointed by the Chief Justice to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.

Judge Kaplan received his A.B. with high honors in political science from the University of Rochester in 1966 and his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1969.  He then served as law clerk to Honorable Edward M. McEntee of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Judge Kaplan joined the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in 1970 and was a partner in the firm from 1977 until joining the bench.  Since his appointment to the bench, Judge Kaplan has handled a number of well known cases.  He presided over the only criminal prosecution in a federal district court of a Guantanamo detainee, who was convicted of an offense involving the bombing of the United States Embassies in Dar-es-Salaam and Nairobi.  Judge Kaplan tried what the government called the largest criminal tax case in U.S. history, the prosecution of many former members of the accounting firm, KPMG, and others, for conspiracy to defraud the United States and for tax evasion.  He was responsible for the civil antitrust price-fixing cases brought against Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc. and Christie’s and the companion criminal antitrust case against Sotheby’s.  He presided over multidistrict litigation relating to the failed Italian company, Parmalat and now is handling the Lehman Brothers Holdings and BNY Mellon Foreign Exchange multidisdtrict litigations.  He has been the trial judge in such intellectual property cases as Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Reimerdes, in which he held that dissemination of a computer program that decrypts copyrighted motion pictures stored on DVDs violated the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and Larson v. Thomson, which dealt with a claim of joint copyright ownership in the show Rent by a dramaturg who worked on the script.  Other noteworthy decisions include his 1998 ruling enjoining the City of New York from interfering with the so-called Million Youth March in Harlem on the ground that the regulations relied upon by the City in banning the march violated the First Amendment as well as a 1997 decision upholding the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 against constitutional challenge.

In 2009, Judge Kaplan received the Federal Bar Council’s Learned Hand Medal for excellence in federal jurisprudence and the Judicial Recognition Award of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  The New York State Bar Association Section on Commercial and Federal Litigation in 2007 awarded him its Stanley H. Fuld Award for “outstanding contributions to commercial law and litigation.”

Judge Kaplan is a Judicial Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the American Law Institute.  He served as judicial liaison to the Council of the ABA Section of Antitrust Law.  He long chaired the Technology Committee of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, was a member of the Committee on Automation and Technology of the Judicial Conference of the United States from 1997 through 2003, and has served as a director and member of the executive committee of the Federal Judges’ Association.


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