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Judge Lewis Recognized as a 2010 “Champion” by the Legal Times and National Law Journal

On June 7, 2010 by Schnader in Appellate

Judge Timothy Lewis, co-chair of Schnader’s Appellate Practice Group, has been recognized by the editors of The National Law Journal and the Legal Times as one of publication’s 2010 “Champions and Visionaries”, which honors attorneys who have gone the extra mile to enhance the business of law and ensure justice is done.

Judge Lewis was chosen as a “Champion” for his dedicated and persistent effort towards improving the nation’s indigent defense system, including his work as co-chair of the National Right to Counsel Committee, sponsored by the Constitution Project. The honor also acknowledges his support of a report issued by the Constitution project recommending the closing of the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and the provision of federal trials for the alleged terrorists held there. He will be recognized along with the other 2010 honorees at an event to be held at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC in September.

In discussing why he is so passionate about ensuring equal justice for all, Judge Lewis noted that his years as a federal prosecutor and a federal trial and appellate judge gave him numerous opportunities to see “so many holes” in the nation’s indigent defense system.  Thus, he “jumped at the chance” to co-chair the National Right to Counsel Committee, sponsored by the Constitution Project, which released a groundbreaking report in April 2009, detailing how excessive caseloads, inadequate funding, ethical breaches and politicization of the nation’s public defender systems routinely compromise the provision of adequate representation for indigent individuals.  The report made 22 recommendations for improvements.  After its release, Judge Lewis actively advocated on behalf of the changes recommended by the report, discussing the report during various interviews in the media and co-authoring op-ed pieces to highlight the issues.  “I know it played a significant role in Attorney General [Eric] Holder’s decision to appoint [Harvard Law School’s] Larry Tribe to head a national effort focused on indigent defense. I can assure you there will be results,” Lewis said.

His work in 2009 also included a Constitution Project report on closing the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility and supporting federal trials for alleged terrorists. “This is a matter of fundamental fairness, common sense, and experience in handling difficult cases,” he said.  Judge Lewis lobbied extensively on behalf of this issue, testifying in Congress, meeting with individual members of Congress and writing articles advocating federal trials as fairer and more successful venues than military tribunals. “We can all do well in this profession and still make a significant contribution to improving it and handing something better to the next generation and the public,” he emphasized. “I also think it’s an obligation, especially for people like me. I was a federal judge when I was 36 years old. When you’re given so much, you have to give back.”

The third annual Legal Times Awards honor a group of attorneys who, during the last year, performed work that has helped advance the practice of law in Washington. The editors of The National Law Journal selected honorees in two categories: Champions, those who have upheld the profession’s core values through public service, pro bono efforts and advocacy for civil liberties, and Visionaries, attorneys whose business or legal acumen has been critical to expanding their firms, improving government or advancing the law.

Judge Timothy K. Lewis is serves as a mediator, arbitrator, settlement counselor, and trial and appellate practitioner.  Before entering private practice, Judge Lewis served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He was serving on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania when President George H. W. Bush elevated him to the Court of Appeals in 1992. At the time of both appointments he was the youngest federal judge in the United States. Before being appointed to the federal bench, Judge Lewis served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and as an Assistant District Attorney in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.