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Gladys Kessler

Gladys Kessler (born January 22, 1938)[1] is an American jurist who sits on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She was nominated to the court by President Bill Clinton, and confirmed in July 1994.

After receiving her B.A. from Cornell University and LL.B. from Harvard Law School, she was hired by the National Labor Relations Board. She worked as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Harrison A. Williams (D–NJ), later convicted in the Abscam scandal, and subsequently for U.S. Congressman Jonathan B. Bingham (D–NY). Kessler worked for the New York City Board of Education, and then opened a public interest law firm. In June 1977, she was appointed Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and from 1981 to 1985 served as Presiding Judge of the Family Division. She was President of the National Association of Women Judges from 1983 to 1984, and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association Conference of Federal Trial Judges and the U.S. Judicial Conference's Committee on Court Administration and Management.

Kessler is the first judge to consider an appeal that the Executive branch is violating the new Detainee Treatment Act. In 2006, she heard the case of Mohammad Bawazir, a prisoner at Camp Delta. The George W. Bush Administration argued that the Detainee Treatment Act, lesiglation spearheaded by John McCain banning cruel or inhuman treatment, did not apply to Bawazir and other detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, Cuba.

On October 10, 2007, the Washington Post headlined "Judge Orders U.S. Not to Transfer Tunisian Detainee," and reported that Judge Kessler "ruled last week that Mohammed Abdul Rahman cannot be sent [from Guantanamo] to Tunisia because he could suffer 'irreparable harm." The detainee's lawyer said, "The executive has now been told it cannot bury its Guantanamo mistakes in Third World prisons." He also stated that, "This is the first time the judicial branch has exercised its inherent power to control the excesses of the executive as to treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay."



  1. Official biography, US Department of Justice
  2. AP Wins Court Case: Gitmo Prisoners Named: Another Gitmo Prisoner Alleges Force Feeding], WSB-TV, March 3, 2006
  3. U.S. Cites Exception in Torture Ban: McCain Law May Not Apply to Cuba Prison, Washington Post, March 3, 2006

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