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June 2011

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Chief Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa Selected to Receive 29th Annual Devitt Award


Chief Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa (S.D. Tex.)

Chief Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa (S.D. Tex.)

Chief Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa (S.D. Tex.) is the recipient of the 29th Annual Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award. The award, named for the late Judge Edward J. Devitt from the District of Minnesota, honors Article III judges whose careers have been exemplary, measured by their significant contributions to the administration of justice, the advancement of the rule of law, and the improvement of society as a whole.

The Devitt Award selection was made by a panel chaired by Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, with members Judge Robert A. Katzmann (2nd Cir.) and Judge Marvin E. Aspen (N.D. Ill.)

In announcing the selection, Sotomayor stated: “For over twenty-seven years, Chief Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa has served with highly noteworthy distinction as a dedicated federal jurist and committed public servant. In addition to serving as a member of an impressive list of Judicial Conference committees and advisory groups during his extensive judicial service, Judge Hinojosa was Chair of the United States Sentencing Commission from 2004 until 2009. He is credited with having stabilized the work of the Commission during the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Booker that declared the Sentencing Guidelines advisory. Judge Hinojosa also shepherded the Commission’s work in recommending and implementing measures to reduce the sentencing disparities between crack cocaine and cocaine powder offenses, an issue that had been under consideration by the Commission for many years. Judge Hinojosa has also handled one of the busiest criminal dockets in the nation and devoted himself to a wide variety of community activities.”

Judges who have worked with Hinojosa describe him as “tireless, modest, effective, intelligent, patriotic, compassionate, seasoned, [and] knowledgeable,” with “common sense, good judgment, the ability to chart a successful path to a long-term goal, and complete dedication to the Judiciary as an institution.” According to his former colleagues on the Commission, his “chairmanship exemplified the best in government stewardship,” earning him “great credibility and trust.”

Hinojosa was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in 1983, where he has served as chief judge since 2009.

The Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice is administered by the American Judicature Society with funding provided by the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation. The award will be presented at a ceremony later this year.