Nancy Gertner

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Nancy Gertner

President Clinton appointed Nancy Gertner to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in 1994. By that time she was already widely recognized as one of the nation's premier criminal defense attorneys and civil rights advocates.

As an attorney, Judge Gertner applied her abundant intellect and seemingly limitless energy to the defense of the disenfranchised and the unpopular. Her feminist advocacy helped make Massachusetts a national leader and bastion of the pro-choice movement. As a federal judge, she has continued to apply her passion for civil and individual rights in the courtroom. Judge Gertner's written opinions have expanded the fields of civil rights and sentencing law, and she has issued influential opinions on an impressive variety of issues, from racial justice to Internet law.

For the past several years she has taught at Yale Law School, and she will become a professor of the practice at Harvard Law School when she retires from the federal bench this fall. Her memoir, "In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate," has just been published.

Honorary Degree Citation

Educator, jurist, civil rights advocate. Widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier criminal defense attorneys and civil rights advocates, you applied your abundant intellect and seemingly limitless energy to the defense of the disenfranchised and the unpopular. In 1994, President Clinton appointed you to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. As a federal judge, you continued to apply your passion for individual rights and justice. Your written opinions, famous for their judicial craftsmanship, expanded the fields of civil rights and sentencing law, and you have issued influential opinions on an impressive range of issues, from racial justice to Internet law. In the Limone case, in which you held the government accountable for abuses arising from wrongful arrests for murder, you cited our own Justice Louis Brandeis in his celebrated dissent in Olmstead v. United States: “Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen.”

For your passionate dedication to decency, security and liberty, Brandeis University, named for the “people’s lawyer” who became an outstanding jurist, is proud to recognize your career as a lawyer and jurist by bestowing upon you the degree of Doctor of Laws.