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The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis

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Information about The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis

Profile image of The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Circuit Court Judge
Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Home
Favorite Quote:
Do The Right Thing.

Birthplace

Born:
7/4/1950
Birth Location:
Lafourche Crossing, Louisiana

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Circuit Court Judge
Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Home
Favorite Quote:
Do The Right Thing.

Birthplace

Born:
7/4/1950
Birth Location:
Lafourche Crossing
See how The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Judge Ronald L. Ellis was born on July 4, 1950 in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana to Ella Mae Ellis and Herman Ellis. In search of better job prospects, Ellis’ father moved the family to New York City, where Ellis graduated from Cardinal Spellman High School in 1968. Ellis earned his B.Ch.E. degree in chemical engineering from Manhattan College in 1972, and entered New York University School of Law as a recipient of the prestigious Root-Tilden-Kern public interest scholarship.

During his second and third years of law school, Ellis became interested in the civil rights mission of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (NAACP LDF). After obtaining his J.D. degree, he worked briefly as a patent attorney for Exxon before joining the NAACP LDF in 1976, where he specialized in fair employment class action litigation. From 1984 to 1990, Ellis served as the organization’s Fair Employment Program director. Ellis went on to serve as the NAACP LDF’s Poverty & Justice Program director, where he worked on the landmark civil rights case Sheff v. O’Neil. In 1993, Ellis was sworn in as a magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. As a magistrate judge, Ellis handled pre-trial matters, including arraignment and determining bail. Ellis drew public criticism in 2009 for deciding not to remand fraudulent investor Bernie Madoff, in light of allegations that he had violated the terms of his bail. He also ruled on the City of New York’s lawsuit against documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, and refused to suppress a subpoena demanding that the BBC release unaired footage from its documentary Arafat Investigated.

In addition to his courtroom duties, Ellis mentored many law clerks, and served as an adjunct law professor at New York University School of Law, New York Law School and Columbia School of Law, often teaching courses on race and the law. He co-authored the chapter “Achieving Race and Gender Fairness in the Courtroom” in The Judge’s Book, and was a member of the Federal Bar Council and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association.

Ellis and his wife, Kathleen, have two sons, Jamil and Jelani, and a granddaughter, Alexandra.

Judge Ronald L. Ellis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 27, 2016.

See how The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis' interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about his parents' marriage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers his childhood illnesses
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers St. Luke's Elementary School in Thibodaux, Louisiana
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls his early relationship with his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes himself as a student
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes segregation in Thibodaux, Louisiana
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls his father's decision to move to New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers moving to New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls attending St. Thomas the Apostle School in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers attending Cardinal Spellman High School in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes the race relations at Cardinal Spellman High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls his early impressions of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls his decision to study engineering at Manhattan College in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about his decision to attend the New York University School of Law
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers meeting and marrying his wife
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers interning at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls working with Jack Greenberg
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes what he learned at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his judicial philosophy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls the financial limitations of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers working for Exxon Research and Engineering Company
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers his first case with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls working on hiring discrimination cases
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes the settlements in his hiring discrimination suits
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about employment discrimination practices in the North
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls the federal government's reverse discrimination cases
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.'s reaction to civil rights setbacks
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes the challenges concerning poverty
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers 1989 Sheff v. O'Neill case
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.'s relationship with the U.S. Congress
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls becoming a magistrate judge
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his role as a magistrate judge
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers ruling on Bernard Madoff's bail hearing
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis' interview, session 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls his sudden notoriety following Bernard Madoff's trial
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about partisanship in the judicial branch
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his transition from lawyer to magistrate judge
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his philosophy as a judge, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his philosophy as a judge, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis reflects upon the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.'s influence on his judgeship
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his support staff
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes the process of writing an opinion
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls his ruling on the 'Central Park Five' documentary footage
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about the impact of media attention
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls the settlement in the Central Park Five emotional distress case
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes the process of publishing case documents
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about his teaching career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his approach to teaching about race and law, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his approach to teaching about race and law, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about how the criminal justice system disadvantages the poor
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his mentorship, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his mentorship, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about stop and frisk policies
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis shares his advice for Americans, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis shares his advice for Americans, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis shares his advice for young people
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about his family
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about wealth and the justice system
  • Tape: 7 Story: 11 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about technology and the law