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Adalberto Jose Jordan - CONFIRMED
United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
On August 2, 2011, President Obama nominated Judge Adalberto José Jordán, age 49, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Judge Jordan is currently serving as a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami. President Obama has said that Judge Jordan “will bring an unwavering commitment to fairness and judicial integrity to the federal bench,” noting that “his impressive legal career is a testament to the kind of thoughtful and diligent judge he will be on the Eleventh Circuit.” The seat that he would fill has been designated a “judicial emergency” by the Administrative Offices of the U. S. Courts; it has been vacant since the retirement of Judge Susan H. Black on February 25, 2011.
Judge Jordan was born in Havana, Cuba in 1961. At the age of six he immigrated to the United States with his parents. He received his B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Miami in 1984, and his J.D. summa cum laude from University of Miami School of Law in 1987, graduating second in his class. Following law school, Judge Jordan clerked for Eleventh Circuit Court Judge Thomas A. Clark from 1987 to 1988; then he served for a year as a law clerk for United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. He joined Steel Hector & Davis LLP (now Squire Sanders & Dempsey) in 1989 as a litigation associate and, later, partner at the firm, focusing on appellate practice.
In 1994 he returned to public service as an Assistant United States Attorney in the appellate division of the Southern District of Florida United States Attorney’s Office, working on both civil and criminal appeals. Four years later, he became the chief of the office and, additionally, served as special counsel to the United States Attorney for legal policy. He was nominated for his District Court seat by President Bill Clinton on March 15, 1999, taking his seat on September 9, 1999 after being confirmed by a Senate vote of ninety-three to one. While on the District Court, he has frequently sat by designation on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and has presided over almost two hundred civil and criminal trials. Judge Jordán teaches at both University of Miami School of Law, where he has been an adjunct professor since 1990, and at Florida International University College of Law, where he has been teaching since 2007.
If confirmed, Judge Jordán will become the first Cuban-born judge to sit on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Commenting on his nomination, Hispanic National Bar Association President Diana Sen said, “It is high time that a Latino judge be appointed to the Eleventh Circuit, which serves one of the fastest-growing Latino population areas in the United States.” The American Bar Association has given Judge Jordán the rating of “Unanimously Well Qualified” to serve on the Circuit Court.
Among the notable cases over which Judge Jordán has presided are United States v. Orlansky et al., a bank fraud and money laundering case that lasted almost four years with a trial of four months. After the jury found the four defendants guilty, Jordán sentenced the two lead defendants to twenty years in prison. The case on appeal was affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit on all of the matters raised.8 Jordán also presided over a case charging members of Greenpeace with misdemeanor criminal charges under a nineteenth century statute (18 U.S.C. § 2279) that declares a vessel cannot be boarded when it is “about to arrive at the place of her destination . . . and before she has been completely moored.” The case involved statutory interpretation and the use of a justification defense. The judge granted a Rule 29 judgment of acquittal in favor of Greenpeace, holding that the statute was not violated because the vessel was at such a great distance from the Port of Miami at the time when Greenpeace members boarded it.
He wrote the opinion for the country’s second case involving child sex tourism and for a lawsuit filed under the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victim Protection Act by Liberian citizens claiming that they were victims of the Liberian Anti-Terrorism Unit commanded by Charles McArthur Emmanuel, awarding plaintiffs $22 million in compensatory and punitive damages. A concurring opinion he wrote in a case dealing with political gerrymandering was cited by the Supreme Court in Vieth v. Jubelirer; Jordán argued in his concurrence that the Supreme Court should address gerrymandering in order to assist lower courts in deciding redistricting cases.
Professional and Academic Activities
Judge Jordán is a member of the Florida Bar. He serves on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements and is a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States’ Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules. Among honors and awards given to him are the 2010 Southern District of Florida Bankruptcy Bar Association Outstanding Service Award, the 2008 Legal Excellence Award from Florida International University College of Law, and the 2007 Allan R. Schwartz Judicial Excellence Award of the Miami-Dade County Bar Association. In 2006, Law Dragon Magazine named him one of the 500 Leading Judges in America.
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