The White House announced today that the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Stephanos Bibas, Professor of Law and Criminology and director of Penn Law’s Supreme Court Clinic, will be nominated by President Trump to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
A former federal prosecutor and noted scholar of criminal procedure who has argued frequently in front of the Supreme Court, Bibas is the author of the books The Machinery of Justice (Oxford University Press, 2012) and Rebooting Justice: More Technology, Fewer Lawyers, and the Future of Law (with Benjamin H. Barton, Encounter Books forthcoming 2017). He teaches courses on criminal procedure and the Supreme Court Clinic.
“We are tremendously proud that Stephanos Bibas has been nominated to the Third Circuit,” said Ted Ruger, Dean of Penn Law and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law. “Professor Bibas possesses a brilliant legal mind, and is one of our most exceptional teachers and scholars. In the course of his career, he has produced incisive scholarship, advocated outstandingly for the clients of the Supreme Court Clinic, and been a mentor to many Penn Law students. His intellect, experience, and character make him an exceptional choice for the federal bench.”
“I am deeply honored to have been nominated,” Bibas said. “I’ve had the great good fortune to learn from outstanding jurists, including Judge Higginbotham and Justice Kennedy, and have learned a tremendous amount from my colleagues and students at Penn Law. Penn has supported me in all that I’ve done: teaching generations of students, writing scholarship, litigating before the Supreme Court, and preventing wrongful convictions through the work of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice.”
As director of Penn Law’s Supreme Court Clinic, Bibas leads a group of talented law students in the work of real Supreme Court cases, including researching, writing legal briefs, and participating in moot court rehearsals.
Bibas has argued six times in front of the Supreme Court. He and his co-counsel successfully persuaded the Court that noncitizen defendants had the right to accurate information about deportation before they plead guilty in the 2010 case Padilla v. Kentucky. Following that landmark case, he and his team received the Jack Wasserman Memorial Award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Bibas and the clinic have won various other Supreme Court cases, including Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which secured the right of the heir to the author of the screenplay Raging Bull to pursue claims against MGM Studios.
Bibas and his team also successfully represented the Pittsburgh-area mother and father of a U.S. Army Ranger and Green Beret who was electrocuted while taking a shower in his military barracks in Iraq due to the alleged negligence of the military contractor who installed and maintained the defective wiring. In Kellogg Brown and Root v. Harris, the Clinic persuaded the Supreme Court not to intervene to block the parents’ wrongful death suit from going forward.
“Those who will work with Stephanos Bibas in the Third Circuit will soon discover that he is an outstanding colleague,” said Tess Wilkinson-Ryan L’05, Professor of Law and Psychology. “I have enormous respect for his commitment to respectful, collegial discourse on even the most contentious topics. He is also a dedicated and conscientious mentor whose future clerks will be lucky to learn from him.”
“Professor Bibas has had wide experience as a prosecutor, teacher, scholar, and advocate in cases in the United States Supreme Court,” said David Rudovsky, Senior Fellow at Penn Law and a leading civil rights and criminal defense attorney. “In the area of criminal justice, Professor Bibas has shown a capacity to learn from experience, research, and empirical data, and he has developed a broadly based understanding of the dynamics — and the flaws — of the criminal justice system.”
Prior to joining Penn Law, Bibas was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. During his service at the U.S. Attorney’s office, in 1999, he successfully investigated and prosecuted Alastair Duncan, the world’s leading expert on Tiffany stained glass, for hiring a grave robber to steal Tiffany stained-glass windows from cemetery mausoleums and resell them overseas. For his performance in this case, he won an award from the FBI and the New York Police Department.
He received a BA from Columbia University in 1989 at the age of 19, a BA from the University of Oxford in 1991, a JD from Yale Law School in 1994, and an honorary MA from Oxford in 1998. While at Oxford, he won the First Place Speaker award at the World Debating Championships.
Following his graduation from Yale Law, Bibas served as a law clerk to Judge Patrick Higginbotham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court. He is 47 years old and lives with his wife and four children in Philadelphia. He is an avid cyclist and earned a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do in college.
If confirmed, Bibas will join several other judges with connections to Penn Law who currently sit on the Third Circuit. Senior Judge Dolores Korman Sloviter L’56 and Judge Patty Shwartz L’86 are Penn Law graduates, Judge Kent A. Jordan and Judge Cheryl Krause are current adjunct professors of law, Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo C’81 is a recent adjunct professor of law, and Senior Judge Anthony Scirica is a Senior Fellow at the Law School.