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Home / Press Release / Human Rights First Mourns the Loss of Judge Robert Katzmann
June 10, 2021

Human Rights First Mourns the Loss of Judge Robert Katzmann

Katzmann was a chief federal appeals judge and access to counsel advocate

WASHINGTON -- Former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and founder of Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC), Robert A. Katzmann, passed away June 9, after a long fight with illness, at the age of 68.

Judge Katzmann’s commitment to justice and leadership in addressing the lack of legal representation for immigrants and asylum seekers will be sorely missed by many who had the privilege of knowing and working with him.  Human Rights First sends condolences to his family during this time.

“We mourn the loss of Judge Katzmann and his leadership in addressing glaring gaps in access to legal representation,” said Eleanor Acer, Refugee Protection Director at Human Rights First. “Judge Katzmann galvanized attention to the dire need for legal representation in immigration court and asylum proceedings. Human Rights First is proud to have hosted law fellows through the Immigrant Justice Corps he founded and worked alongside Judge Katzmann and the other organizations he convened to help improve access to counsel. His example will continue to inspire us as we advocate for government-supported legal counsel in asylum and immigration proceedings and partner with law firms to provide pro bono legal representation to asylum seekers.” 

Along with other organizations, Human Rights First participated in Judge Katzmann’s Study Group on Immigrant Representation and helped initiate similar study groups modeled on his example. Judge Katzmann also founded the Immigrant Justice Corps, which matches new lawyers to community organizations representing immigrants. Human Rights First has been honored to host several IJC fellows, including current IJC fellow Rebecca Taylor on the refugee representation team and former IJC fellow Kennji Kizuka who is now associate director for research and analysis on the refugee protection team.