Thursday, November 17, 2016

Judges Newman and Winter Honored with 2016, 2017 Devitt Awards

The Dwight D. Opperman Foundation has announced that the 32nd annual Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award will be presented to Senior Judge Jon O. Newman ’56 of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The foundation also announced that Judge Ralph K. Winter ’60, also of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, will receive the honor in 2017.

The Devitt Award is the American judiciary's longest running and its highest honor that is bestowed upon an Article III federal judge. It was created 34 years ago by the late Dwight D. Opperman, when he served as president and chairman of the West Publishing Company.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan was appointed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., to chair this year's committee. She was joined by Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh ’90 of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and by Judge Gary Feinerman of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The award will be presented to Judge Newman at the Supreme Court of the United States on December 8, 2016.

"We recognize two richly and equally deserving judges who, for nearly 35 years, have served together as twin pillars of the Second Circuit,” said Justice Kagan. “Judge Newman and Judge Winter are both widely recognized as brilliant jurists and thoughtful scholars."

Justice Kagan added, "During their service together, they have each made extraordinary contributions to the administration of justice and the training of younger judges. In senior status, they remain deeply engaged in the work of the courts. Their sequential selection reflects their many accomplishments and the deep respect and admiration of their colleagues and all who know them. I congratulate them both on receiving this prestigious award."

Remarking on receiving the 2016 Devitt Award, Judge Newman said, “It is an overwhelming honor to have been selected to receive the Devitt Award. I am grateful to Justice Kagan, the selection committee, and to the late Dwight Opperman, an iconic figure in the American legal community who, through his foundation, continues to honor excellence in the federal judiciary.”

Judge Newman assumed senior status in his current position on the Second Circuit in 1997. At the time of his appointment in 1979, he was a United States District Court Judge for the District of Connecticut. Judge Newman was Chief Judge from 1993 to 1997.

Judge Newman received his B.A. degree from Princeton University in 1953, and his LL.B. degree from Yale Law School in 1956.

Judge Newman served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1954 until 1962. Following his graduation from law school, he was a law clerk for Judge George T. Washington of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. From 1957 to 1958, he was senior law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court. Judge Newman returned to Connecticut in 1958 to engage in private law practice in Hartford. In 1960, he was appointed Special Counsel to Governor Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut. The next year he became Executive Assistant to Ribicoff who received a new position as U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. In 1963, after Secretary Ribicoff had been elected United States Senator from Connecticut, Judge Newman became his Administrative Assistant. From 1964 until 1969, Judge Newman was the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. He returned to private law practice in Hartford in 1969, at which he remained until taking up service in 1971 as a United States District Court Judge for the District of Connecticut.

On Judge Newman’s 50th Yale Law School reunion, former law clerks and friends established the Judge Jon O. Newman Lectureship at Yale Law School, which supports an annual lecture in global justice, or public international, human rights, or comparative law, by a distinguished individual who is not a citizen of, and does not reside in, the United States.

Judge Winter was appointed United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit on December 10, 1981 and entered on duty January 5, 1982. He received a B.A. degree from Yale College in 1957 and an LL.B. degree from Yale Law School in 1960. He served as a law clerk to Judge Caleb M. Wright, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, Delaware, 1960-61, and to Judge Thurgood Marshall, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 1961-62. Judge Winter was a full-time member of the Yale Law School Faculty from 1962 until entering judicial service. 

Judge Winter has received the Connecticut Law Review Award, Honorary Doctors of Law from Brooklyn Law School and New York Law School, the Federal Bar Council’s Learned Hand Award for Excellence in Federal Jurisprudence, and the Yale Law School Alumni Association’s Award of Merit. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Winter also has a lecture fund at Yale Law School, which was established by former law clerks to discuss issues surrounding corporate law and governance. The law school also created a Judge Ralph Winter Prize, which is awarded annually to the Yale Law student who has written the best paper in law and economics.

For more information on the Devitt Award, visit