Chief Judge Robert Katzmann and Attorney William Ramirez to Receive Honorary Degrees and Address the Class of 2015 | John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Chief Judge Robert Katzmann and Attorney William Ramirez to Receive Honorary Degrees and Address the Class of 2015

Chief Judge Robert Katzmann and Attorney William Ramirez to Receive Honorary Degrees and Address the Class of 2015

Chief Judge Robert Katzmann and Attorney William Ramirez to Receive Honorary Degrees and Address the Class of 2015

Students, alumni, faculty and guests will gather in the Theater at Madison Square Garden for the College’s 50th Commencement exercises on Wednesday, June 3, at 10:30 AM and 3:30 PM. Honorary doctorates will be presented to Robert Katzmann, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and William Ramirez, Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union of Puerto Rico, who will also serve as speakers at each ceremony.

Both honorees are prominent figures in the law who have demonstrated their commitment to the cause of justice. Throughout his career Chief Judge Katzmann has championed the rights of immigrants in the legal system.  He created the Immigrant Justice Corps, the country’s first fellowship program dedicated to meeting the critical need for high-quality legal assistance for immigrants. The Immigrant Justice Corps recruits talented lawyers and college graduates and partners them with New York City’s leading non-profit legal services providers and community-based organizations to offer a broad range of immigration assistance.

Mr. Ramirez is a national human rights leader who has devoted most of his professional life to reforming the Puerto Rican Police Department, creating the Gender Violence Police Accountability Project, and human rights activism. Mr. Ramirez was the founding Vice President of the American Civil Liberties Union of Puerto Rico and in 2004 he became its Executive Director. His work resulted in a National ACLU report, “Island of Impunity: Puerto Rico’s Outlaw Police Force,” which led ultimately to a federal court-supervised consent order in 2013 for sustainable reform of Puerto Rico’s Police Department.

For more information about John Jay’s Commencement ceremonies, visit: http://www.jjay.cuny.edu/commencement-ceremony-information.



Profiles of Honorary Degree Recipients

10:30 AM Ceremony - Speaker and Honorary Degree: Doctor of Laws

Robert Katzmann is the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Chief Judge Katzmann is a champion of the rights of immigrants in the legal system.  He conceived of and is responsible for the creation of the Immigrant Justice Corps, the first fellowship program in the U.S. dedicated to meeting the critical need for high-quality legal assistance for immigrants. The program recruits talented lawyers and college graduates from around the country and partners them with New York City’s leading non-profit legal services providers and community-based organizations to offer a broad range of immigration assistance for asylum seekers, juveniles, and victims of crime, violence or human trafficking. As a result of his work, in 2014, the Robin Hood Foundation, a poverty-fighting philanthropy, approved more than $1.3 million in funding for the Immigrant Justice Corps. The Corps plans to hire a cadre of 25 lawyers every year, who will be assisted by recent college graduates with multilingual skills. Chief Judge Katzmann is also a prolific scholar, who was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was honored by the American Political Science Association’s Charles Edward Merriam Award for his “significant contribution to the art of government through the application of social science research.”

3:30 PM Ceremony - Speaker and Honorary Degree: Doctor of Laws

William Ramirez is the Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union of Puerto Rico. He has devoted most of his professional life to reforming the Puerto Rican Police Department, creating the Gender Violence Police Accountability Project, and human rights activism.  Mr. Ramirez, who grew up in the South Bronx, was the founding Vice President of the ACLU of Puerto Rico and in his early years in that position investigated allegations of human rights abuses directed at homeless drug users participating in federally funded needle exchange programs. In 2007, the ACLU began to file charges against the Puerto Rican Police Department with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. His work resulted in a National ACLU report which led to a federal court-supervised consent order for sustainable reform of Puerto Rico’s Police Department. This effort by Mr. Ramirez was undertaken despite the threats that were directed at him and the ACLU.  As a result of the Gender Violence Police Accountability project, hundreds of women around the island have been trained as independent overseers or monitors of police compliance with domestic violence protocols mandated by the federal government. Currently, Mr. Ramirez is working on reforming the criminal justice system in Puerto Rico in collaboration with the Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice and the Puerto Rico Open Places initiative.