U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III

National Security Trials in Federal Court

Date: 
Wed, 02/19/2014

The Program in Law and Public Affairs invites MPP/MPA students to join us for  "Law in the Public Service: Not Just for Lawyers," where our guest will be Judge T.S. Ellis, III, Senior U.S. District Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.

This event is by invitation only. If interested, please e-mail Judi Rivkin at jrivkin@princeton.edu.

Judge Ellis has presided over several high-profile national security cases, including United States v. Lindh (the so-called "American Taliban" case); United States v. Franklin, Rosen, and Weissman, in which defendants were charged with engaging in a conspiracy to communicate National Defense Information to Israeli officials and AIPAC, in violation of the Espionage Act; and El-Masri v. Tenet, in which plaintiff Khalid El-Masri sued the CIA and three private security companies, alleging extraordinary rendition and torture.

National Security cases present challenging problems for federal courts—case management problems and problems raised by the novel and difficult legal issues these cases typically present.  Judge Ellis will identify some of these problems, describe how U.S. federal courts have dealt with them, and offer some observations and suggestions based chiefly on his personal experiences in presiding over some of these cases.  In particular, Judge Ellis will discuss the use of classified evidence, the challenge of balancing a criminal defendant's constitutional rights and the government's interest in preserving state secrets, and the application of the Espionage Act to journalists.

T.S. Ellis, III is a Senior U.S. District Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.  He was appointed to the federal bench by President Reagan in 1987.  Judge Ellis, after graduating from Princeton with an engineering degree (B.S.E. 1961), served as an aviator in the U.S. Navy from 1961-67, attaining the rank of Lieutenant.  He then studied law at Harvard (J.D. 1967, Knox Fellowship 1969-1970) and Oxford (Diploma of Law 1970).  Thereafter, he was a litigation partner in private practice with the Virginia-based international law firm of Hunton and Williams from 1969-87.  He is the author of numerous articles in law reviews and journals and has served as a lecturer at Georgetown Law School and the College of William and Mary.