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Federal Judge Jed Rakoff '64 Quotes Oscar Wilde in Rejecting BoA Settlement

Federal Judge Jed Rakoff '64 Quotes
Oscar Wilde in Rejecting Bank of America Settlement

by Alisa Giardinelli

swarthmore college

Jed Rakoff '64



This week, Manhattan federal judge Jed Rakoff '64 rejected a $33 million settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bank of America and accused the regulators of falling down on the job. Quoting Oscar Wilde - who once said a cynic is someone "who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing" - Rakoff said the settlement suggested a "cynical relationship" between the bank and the SEC.

Further describing the settlement as "neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate," he added it "does not comport with the most elementary notions of justice and morality". His decision has garnered widespread attention not just for its indictment of  the effectiveness of the SEC 's regulatory role, but also for its broader questions about the government's role in emergency steps last fall to rescue a U.S. financial system flirting with collapse. More in the New York Times, The Guardian (UK), the Huffington Post, and the Wall Street Journal [Sept. 15, 2009 and Oct. 27, 2009, subscription required].

Rakoff, widely recognized for his legal opinions in the areas of securities and copyright law and constitutional rights, is the author of three books, over 100 articles, and co-author of two multi-volume reference works on the law. In 2002, citing recent cases which had been reversed on the basis of DNA evidence, he argued that innocent people are sentenced to death with materially greater frequency than was previously supposed; and, in a landmark and fiercely independent decision, he ruled the federal death penalty unconstitutional.