Jose A. Cabranes

Hon. Jose A. Cabranes
Firm: United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
Address: 500 Pearl Street
New York, NY 10007
Phone: (212) 857-8500
(212) 857-8585
(212) 857-8702
(212) 857-8662
Fax: (212) 857-8710
Web site:

Position Bar Admissions Education
Honors Published Works Affiliations
Lawyer Profile:

Jose A. Cabranes was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1994. At the time of his appointment, he was Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, a court to which he was appointed in 1979.

Judge Cabranes was born in 1940 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and at the age of five moved with his family to the South Bronx. After attending public schools in New York City, he graduated from Columbia College (A.B., 1961), Yale Law School (J.D., 1965) and the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England (M.Litt. in International Law, 1967). He studied at Cambridge under a Kellett Research Fellowship from Columbia College and the Humanitarian Trust Studentship in Public International Law awarded by the Faculty Board of Law of the University of Cambridge.

Judge Cabranes was serving as General Counsel of Yale University when appointed to the federal bench in 1979; he was the first Puerto Rican appointed to the federal bench in the continental United States. Previously he had practiced in a New York City law firm; taught law on the full-time faculty of Rutgers University Law School and the adjunct faculty of Yale Law School; and served as Special Counsel to the Governor of Puerto Rico and as head of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico's office in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Citizenship and the American Empire (Yale University Press, 1979), a legislative history of the United States citizenship of the people of Puerto Rico, co-author (with Kate Stith) of Fear of Judging: Sentencing Guidelines in the Federal Courts (University of Chicago Press, 1998)(Certificate of Merit of the American Bar Association, 1999), and author of articles in various law journals.

Judge Cabranes served as a Successor Trustee of Yale University (Fellow of the Yale Corporation) from 1987 to 1999, and he is now also an emeritus trustee of Colgate University and Columbia University. He has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation

In 1988, Judge Cabranes was one of five Federal judges appointed by Chief Justice Rehnquist to the 15-member Federal Courts Study Committee created by Act of Congress "to examine problems facing the Federal courts and develop a long-range plan for the future of the Federal judiciary."

He was the recipient of the Learned Hand Medal for Excellence in Federal Jurisprudence of the Federal Bar Council in 2000.

Before his appointment to the federal bench, Judge Cabranes served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of two major Hispanic civil rights organizations: Aspira of New York, the educational agency that helps inner-city Hispanic youth prepare for college, and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (of which he was a founding member).

Current Employment Position(s):

Appointed 1994 by President Clinton
Bar Admissions:
New York, 1968
District of Columbia, 1975
U.S. District Court District of Connecticut, 1976
University of Cambridge, Wolfson College, Cambridge, England, 1967
Major: International Law

Yale Law School, New Haven, Connecticut, 1965

Columbia College, New York, New York, 1961

Published Works:
Citizenship and the American Empire, Yale University Press, 1979

Articles on International Law, Legal History and Education Law, British and American Law Journals

Fear of Judging: Sentencing Guidelines in the Federal Courts, University of Chicago Press, 1998

Certificate of Merit of the American Bar Association, 1999

Legislative History of the United States Citizenship of the People of Puerto Rico

Certificate of Merit of the American Bar Association, 1999

Classes/Seminars Taught:
Associate Professor of Law, (Administrative Law, Conflict of Laws and International Law), Rutgers University Law School, Newark, New Jersey, 1971-1975 (on leave, 1973-1975)

Adjunct Faculty, Yale Law School

Instructor in Puerto Rico History, Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, Rio Piedras, PR, 1962

Honors and Awards:
Fellow, American Bar Foundation

Honorary Degree, Colgate University, 1988

Honorary Degree, Trinity College, 1990

Honorary Degree, University of New Haven, 1990

Honorary Degree Williams College, 1993

Honorary Degree, Valapraiso University, 1994

Honorary Degree, Hofstra University, 1995

Honorary Degree, New York Law School, 1995

Honorary Degree, Quinnipiac School of Law, 1996

John Jay Award of Columbia College, 1991

Henry J. Naruk Award of the Connecticut Bar Association, 1993

Lifetime Achievement Award, National Puerto Rican Coalititon, 1987

Puerto Rican Bar Association, Excellence in the Judiciary Award, 1997

Certificate of Merit of the American Bar Association, 1999

Learned Hand Medal for Excellence in Federal Jurisprudence of the Federal Bar Council, 2000

Professional Associations and Memberships:
American Law Institute

Council on Foreign Relations

Yale-New Haven Hospital
Trustee, 1978-1980; 1984-1987

The Century Foundation, New York City, 1983 - Present

Colgate University, Hamilton, New York, 1981 - 1990

Brooklyn Law School, 1984 - 1990

Federal Judicial Center, Elected by Judicial Conference, United States, 1986 - 1990
Member, Board of Directors

US Delegation, Belgrade Conf. on Security and Cooperation in Europe, 1977 - 1978

American Bar Association

Connecticut Bar Association

Association of the Bar of the City of New York

Yale University, 1987 - 1999

Federal Courts Study Committee, 1988 - 1990
Member (one of five federal judges on 15-member committee)

Hispanic National Bar Association

American Bar Foundation

Puerto Rican Bar Association

Columbia University

American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Puerto Rican Legal Defense
Founding Member

Past Employment Positions:
United States District Court, District of Connecticut, Chief District Judge, 1992 - 1994

United States District Court, District of Connecticut, District Judge, 1979 - 1992

Yale University, General Counsel, 1975 - 1979

Governor of Puerto Rico, Special Counsel, 1973 - 1975

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico's Office in Washington, D.C., Head of Office

Casey, Lane & Mittendorf, New York, Attorney, 1967 - 1971

Birth Information:
1940, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, United States of America

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