Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann to be Presented “Reform in Law Award” by The Burton Awards Program


March 10, 2014

New York, New York: Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has been awarded the 2014 “Reform in Law Award” by the Burton Awards, which is run in association with the Library of Congress. The coveted award is presented to a judge, committee or commission that has a significant impact in promoting the administration of justice. Chief Judge Katzmann will be honored at the June 9, 2014 program for his commitment over many years to bring attention to the lack of representation for immigrants, and his efforts to address that deficiency. The most recent manifestation of that commitment is the “Immigrant Justice Corps” project, which he conceived of and is now being implemented. The Immigrant Justice Corps will be the largest expansion of legal services for immigrants in NYC’s history. With philanthropic support, a combination of newly-minted lawyers, recent college graduates and senior lawyers attorneys, will enable non-profit law offices and community based organizations in NY to double the number of cases they handle annually. The IJC will serve as a national model of the delivery of legal services. Judge Katzmann was a forerunner in promoting the pro bono efforts of law firms through his 1995 compendium, The Law Firm and the Public Good.

According to Judge Katzmann, “since 2006, the Second Circuit has adjudicated more than 17,000 immigration cases.” He went on to say, “In all too many cases, I could not but notice a substantial impediment to the fair and effective administration of justice: the too-often deficient counsel of represented noncitizens… I had the sense that if only the immigrant had competent counsel at the very outset of immigration proceedings where the record is made with lasting effect – long before the case reached the court of appeals where review is limited – the outcome might have been different, the noncitizen might have prevailed.” The Immigrant Justice Corps now addresses that concern and thereby promotes the fair and effective administration of justice.

This prestigious award has only been presented four times over the fifteen year history of the Burton Awards. It was awarded in 2003 and 2006 to the Judicial Council of California for rewriting the civil, and then, jury instructions in California. In 2007 and 2011the award was presented to the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States for redrafting the Federal Rules of Procedure and restyling the Federal Rules of Evidence.

The selection of this year’s award recipient was made by a select committee chaired by Kenneth A. Sagat, Partner at Sagat|Burton LLP. Also serving on the Committee are William C. Burton, Partner at Sagat|Burton LLP; Stephen Mysliwiec, Partner at DLA Piper; and Judge Edward Forstenzer, Superior Court of California (retired). In announcing the award, Mr. Sagat stated, “Chief Judge Katzmann’s innovative efforts and compassion to create this Immigrant Justice Corps stood out as the finest example of the type of innovative reform the “Reform in Law” Award was designed to recognize for impact on the administration of justice. Congratulations to Chief Judge Katzmann for his introduction into the esteemed family of distinguished Burton Award winners.”


The Burton Awards, established in 1999, is funded by the Burton Foundation, a non-profit, academic effort devoted to recognizing and rewarding excellence in the legal profession. The Burton Awards was established to honor the finest accomplishments in law, including writing, reform, public service and interest, regulatory innovation, and lifetime achievements in the profession. The honorary and distinguished members of the Burton Awards Board of Directors include the following leaders in law: Judge Richard Posner, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit; Chief Alex Kozinski, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the 9th Circuit; Judith Kaye, former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals (retired); John Cornyn, United States Senator; Robert P. Casey, Jr., United States Senator; Mike Crapo, United States Senator; Spencer Bachus, United States Congressman; Thomas L. Sager, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company; Keith C. Wetmore, Chair Emeritus, Morrison & Foerster LLP; Dennis Smith, former State Senator and member of the Missouri Judiciary Committee, Missouri Legislature; and Stephen R. Mysliwiec, Partner, DLA Piper.


This prominent institution is one of the most celebrated and distinguished libraries in the world. It was established on April 24, 1800, and since that time has grown to become one of the largest repositories in history. The Library of Congress functions as both a national library and as the research arm of the U.S. Congress. It contains more than 32 million catalogued books and more than 62 million manuscripts.

WILLIAM C. BURTON, ESQ., Founder and Chair

The Founder and Chair of The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement is William C. Burton, Esq., a partner in the law firm of Sagat|Burton LLP. He is a former New York State Assistant Attorney General, a former New York State Assistant Special Prosecutor, and is the author of the first legal thesaurus ever written for the legal profession, entitled BURTON’S LEGAL THESAURUS. The book is now in its 5th edition and quickly approaching its 35th anniversary. When the book was released, the Association of American Publishers recognized it as “one of the Most Innovative and Creative Projects of the year.” In 2011, Mr. Burton was presented the highest honor given by the second largest association of law professors in America, The Legal Writing Institute, for “significantly advancing the cause of legal writing in the profession of law.” More recently, he was awarded the “Blackstone Award” by the Friends of the Law Library of Congress, for “embodying and promoting the best ideals of the institution.”