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Stephen Robinson

Lawyer and Federal District Court Judge Stephen C. Robinson was born on January 25, 1957 to Yvonne Lee Robinson in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. His mother was a payroll clerk at the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and his father was a probation officer. Robinson grew up in a housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, and in second grade was bused to predominantly white schools. Robinson graduated from Cornell University in 1981 with his B.A. degree in government. He went on to receive his J.D. degree from Cornell Law School in 1984.

Robinson began his legal career in 1984 as the first black lawyer hired at the law firm of Alexander & Green, a corporate firm based in New York City. He moved on to his first federal position as assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in 1987 working under then U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani. In 1991, Robinson was hired at Kroll Associates, an international private investigations firm, where he became associate general counsel and later managing director. In 1993, he was asked by the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to serve as special assistant to the director and general counsel. In 1995, he became counsel and subsequently chief compliance officer for Aetna, Inc. in Hartford, Connecticut. Robinson was then appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, in 1998, by President William Clinton, after being unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. During this time, he also served as interim manager and chief executive officer of Empower New Haven, a non-profit organization, and taught at Yale Law School as a senior research fellow. President George W. Bush appointed Robinson as a federal district court judge in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York in 2003. In 2010, Robinson resigned his position on the bench and joined the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP as a litigation partner.

Robinson was recognized by the Department of Justice for Superior Service for his work on the prosecution of U.S. v. Galanis, a securities and tax fraud trial in 1990. In 1997, he was the recipient of the Chairman’s Award while working at Aetna US Healthcare. In 2011, he was named chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Committee to Enhance Diversity in the Profession. Robinson also serves on the board of directors for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, the Cornell Law School Dean’s Advisory Committee, and the board of directors of Fordham Law School’s Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics. Robinson has one daughter, Victoria.

Stephen C. Robinson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 17, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.186

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/17/2014 |and| 09/12/2014

Last Name

Robinson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

Craig

Schools

John Dewey High School

Cornell University

Cornell Law School

First Name

Stephen

Birth City, State, Country

Brooklyn

HM ID

ROB28

State

New York

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/25/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Short Description

Lawyer and federal district court judge Stephen Robinson (1957 - ) was a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, and a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York.

Employment

Alexander & Green

Southern District of New York

Kroll Associates

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Aetna, Inc.

District of Connecticut

Empower New Haven

Yale Law School

U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Lynn Jones Huntley

Activist attorney Lynn Jones Huntley was born on January 24, 1946, in Petersberg, Virginia, to theologian Lawrence Neale Jones and Mary Ellen Cooley Jones. Huntley began school in Baumholder, Germany, and later attended schools in Oberlin, Ohio, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New Haven Connecticut, and Nashville, Tennessee. Huntley entered college at Fisk University as an early entrant, and later earned her A.B. degree in sociology with honors from Barnard College. Huntley was the first African American female editor of the Columbia Law Review; she graduated cum laude from Columbia Law School with her J.D. degree in 1970.

After law school, Huntley clerked for Judge Constance Baker Motley in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Joining the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in 1971, Huntley served as staff attorney and participated in the defense of prisoners involved in the Attica Prison uprising. Huntley also helped write the winning brief in Furman v. Georgia, in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared the death penalty to be cruel and unusual punishment within the meaning of the eighth and fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Huntley later secured executive clemency for noted human and prisoner rights activist Martin Sostre.

From 1973 to 1975, Huntley served as general counsel to the New York State Commission on Human Rights. In l978, Huntley joined the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division where she served as Section Chief and acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General. From 1982 to 1995, Huntley worked at the Ford Foundation as Program Officer, and Deputy and Director of the Rights and Social Justice Program; the Program had a core biennial budget of $44 million which funded efforts related to minority rights and opportunities; legal services for the poor; women’s rights, both domestic and international; minorities and communications; and Black church secular service delivery efforts.

In 1995, Huntley joined the Southern Education Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia, to direct the Comparative Human Relations Initiative; a study of race, poverty and inequality in Brazil, South Africa, and the United States. Huntley became the president of the Southern Education Foundation in 2002, the South’s only African American lead and directed public charity, which focused on improving education for low income students, from preschool through higher education.

Huntley serves as a board member of the American Constitution Society, CARE USA, Grantmakers for Education, the Georgia Student Finance Commission, and the Interdenominational Theological Seminary. Huntley is the recipient of the first Thurgood Marshall Award from the Association of the Board of New York, and the Lucy Terry Prince Award of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, among other honors. Huntley co-edited with Charles V. Hamilton and others Beyond Racism: Embracing an Interdependent Future in 2000, and Beyond Racism: Race and Equality in Brazil, South Africa and the United States in 2001.

Lynn Jones Huntley passed away on August 30, 2015, at the age of 69.

Accession Number

A2005.207

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/26/2005 |and| 12/14/2005

Last Name

Huntley

Maker Category
Middle Name

Jones

Schools

Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School

Fisk University

Barnard College

Columbia Law School

First Name

Lynn

Birth City, State, Country

Petersberg

HM ID

HUN04

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

May My Enemies Live Long So That They May Know My Victory.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/24/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Barbecue

Death Date

8/30/2015

Short Description

Foundation executive and civil rights lawyer Lynn Jones Huntley (1946 - 2015 ) was president of the Southern Education Foundation, the American South’s only African American-led public charity.

Employment

Ford Foundation

Southern Education Foundation

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

New York City Commission on Human Rights

United States Department of Justice

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Cravath, Swaine & Moore

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lynn Jones Huntley's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lynn Jones Huntley lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her mother's family history, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her maternal great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her mother's family history, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her father's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her father's siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her father's background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her father's background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her father's ministry education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her father's ministry

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her father's mentees and denomination

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes how she resembles her parents, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes how she resembles her parents, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her brother, Rodney Bruce Jones

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lynn Jones Huntley recalls cleaning the Fisk University girls' dormitories

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her elementary school in Moundsville, West Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her education, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her education, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lynn Jones Huntley recalls civil rights activities at Fisk University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lynn Jones Huntley remembers the March on Washington in 1963

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her two years at Fisk University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her time at Barnard College in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her time at Columbia Law School, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her time at Columbia Law School, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her experience in corporate law

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes interviewing for federal clerkships

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her clerkship with Constance Baker Motley

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes clerking for Constance Baker Motley, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes clerking for Constance Baker Motley, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes Sostre v. McGinnis, 1971

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes joining the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her work with NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her involvement in Martin Sostre's clemency campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes Martin Sostre

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her work on death penalty cases

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes clemency for Wilbert Lee and Freddie Pitts

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lynn Jones Huntley talks about the U.S. criminal justice system

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lynn Jones Huntley shares her stance on the death penalty

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her stint at New York City Commission on Human Rights

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes the conditions of Georgia State Prison, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes the conditions of Georgia State Prison, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes the conditions of Georgia State Prison, pt. 3

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lynn Jones Huntley recalls being saved by a death row prisoner

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her work for the U.S. Department of Justice, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her work for the U.S. Department of Justice, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Lynn Jones Huntley's interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her transition to the Ford Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her work at the Ford Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her work at the Ford Foundation to support black churches

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her work at the Ford Foundation to support minority media projects

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes supporting civil rights through her work at the Ford Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her international activism with the Ford Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lynn Jones Huntley recalls her experience in South Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes the Comparative Human Relations Initiative, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Lynn Jones Huntley talks about her interest in Brazil

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes the Comparative Human Relations Initiative, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes the Southern Education Foundation, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes the Southern Education Foundation, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes Southern Education Foundation's response to Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes Morris Brown College's loss of accreditation

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes Southern Education Foundation's Miles to Go program

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes Southern Education Foundation's preschool initiatives

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes the Education Summers Youth Leadership Initiative

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Lynn Jones Huntley remembers Constance Baker Motley

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Lynn Jones Huntley reflects upon her career

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her family

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Lynn Jones Huntley talks about sharing her story

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Lynn Jones Huntley reflects upon her life

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Lynn Jones Huntley shares her advice for aspiring law professionals

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Lynn Jones Huntley describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Lynn Jones Huntley reflects upon her legacy, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Lynn Jones Huntley reflects upon her legacy, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Lynn Jones Huntley narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Lynn Jones Huntley narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$8

DATitle
Lynn Jones Huntley describes Sostre v. McGinnis, 1971
Lynn Jones Huntley recalls being saved by a death row prisoner
Transcript
It was also during my tenure with her that a case, a landmark case that shaped my life and the course of jurisprudence as it relates to prison and jail litigation was decided. Judge Motley [Constance Baker Motley] had, the year before I had worked with her, decided [sic. heard] a case called Sostre versus McGinnis [Sostre v. McGinnis, 1971], Martin Sostre, S-O-S-T-R-E, versus McGinnis. And in that case, she had held that the conditions under which this prisoner, who was a black Puerto Rican man, had been incarcerated in the state prisons of New York [New York State Correctional Facilities], was cruel and usual punishment within the meaning of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the [U.S.] Constitution. They had literally kept Sostre in solitary confinement for almost a year. They'd given him no blankets. They had him defecating in a hole. I mean he had really suffered. And he refused--it all arose because he had written a letter and the warden demanded to know his, Sostre was a black nationalist. The warden demanded to know, what did the letters RNA that he had put on the bottom of the letter mean. And Sostre had said something like, Republican New Administration, which made them furious. Well, Sostre was in because at the time of the Buffalo [New York] riots in '68 [sic. 1967], he had had the only African American bookstore [Afro-Asian Bookstore] in the City of Buffalo, and he was accused of having fomented the Buffalo riots. And, and a particular guy claimed that he had bought heroin from Sostre in the bookstore. Sostre maintained that he was being framed by the authorities, but he refused to defend himself at the trial. He had, he had no counsel. He called the judge, Mad--Dog Marshall [Frederick M. Marshall] and that this was a lynching court, and he was not going to defend himself. He didn't put on a single witness. They sentenced him to, he was fifty-four years old at the time, they sentenced him to, I don't know, it was like ten consecutive sentences. He would never get out of prison is the point, never get out of prison. On each count he was--so Judge Motley, by handing down this decision that this controversial political prisoner had, as he called himself, had been treated in a cruel and inhuman equivalent of torture in a U.S. prison, was a landmark, the first major big prisoner rights case. And it was up on appeal when I came in as her law clerk, and it was decided while I was her law clerk. And it really changed the course of prison and jail reform litigation.$Now my life, I think, was saved by a death row prisoner. This is an interesting tidbit. This is a white man. His name was Troy [Leon] Gregg. He was one of the lead plaintiffs in a case called Gregg versus Georgia [Gregg v. Georgia, 1976], in which the death penalty was upheld with standards, and this must have been in 1976. Troy Gregg was on death row at the Georgia State Prison [Reidsville, Georgia]. He was in there, I think because of felony murder situation. Meaning that he, that he and somebody else had robbed, the other person killed whoever it was, but Gregg was held equally liable for the death as the one who pulled the trigger, and so he also got the death sentence. He was a poor, low income guy, lived in a trailer, and sort of fit the stereotype of the, the poor southern white. But he was willing to testify about the harassment and treatment of black inmates on death row, and also about the conditions of confinement under which he suffered. I'll skip to the chase. On the day before a hearing that we were going to have on conditions of confinement and death row, I had insisted to the judge that the death row prisoners be transferred from the prison to the courthouse in, in order to have the hearing, that it was inherently coercive to have this hearing at the prison, and that they, like everyone else, should be brought to the court. And the court had ruled with me, although the defendants sorely objected. So we had the hearing. And but, before the hearing, Troy Gregg told me he said, "Listen, Lynn [HistoryMaker Lynn Jones Huntley]," he said, "I know that they're planning to take the death row prisoners to the courthouse--to Tattnall County [Georgia] courthouse." I said, "Yes." He said, "Well, I'm going to tell you something that could get me killed if it got out," he said, "But you seem like a nice person, and I know you're just trying to help us." And I said, "Really, what is it?" He said, "Don't take the death sentence prisoners to Tattnall County." He said, "Something is going to jump off, and you could be really hurt." And so I took his advice, I went back to the court, said I changed my mind in view of their delays and blah, blah, I would have the hearing for the death sentence prisoners at the Georgia State Prison. Fast forward it's now four years later, I'm working in the justice department [U.S. Department of Justice] in Washington [D.C.] again in a trial section involving prison and jail litigation. I'm reading Corrections [Today] magazine one night, and there is an article: Troy Gregg and two other inmates had escaped from prison, from death row, and he was found murdered and drowned in a pond not too far from the prison. Now I don't know whether he was part of a conspiracy to escape at that time or not, but something tells me that when he told me that that's exactly what he was doing. That he knew, although he was under sentence of death, or life in prison, will never get out, that he saw something in me as a person and his humanity was touched, and he told me the word that perhaps had kept me from being in harm's way. So that shows you the complexity of doing this work. These are human beings and they have faces and voices and handwritings and names and not all of them are the, the vicious animals that we are portraying them to be. Many are people who have simply gone the wrong way, and it's a vicious system.