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The Honorable Harold A. Ackerman Judicial Fellowship

Harold Ackerman


The Ackerman Fellowship is dedicated to preserving and honoring the memory of the Honorable Harold A. Ackerman, promoting the values he held dear – integrity, loyalty, service, and education – and providing financial support for students who would otherwise be interning in Federal Judicial Chambers with no compensation.


This Fellowship was established through the generosity of the friends, family, and former judicial clerks of Judge Ackerman. Funding is available for one Seton Hall Law student annually who has accepted a qualifying, Judicial Internship with a United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey.


The Fellowship is posted and applications are accepted annually during the spring semester. Based upon the written application materials, finalists will be selected for interviews by the Ackerman Fellowship Committee, which consists of a former Ackerman Fellow, Judge Ackerman’s family, and his former law clerks.


The Fellowship application is posted and accepted though Simplicity. Please contact the Office of Career Services at or 973-642-8746 with any questions about the Fellowship or the application process.

About the Honorable Harold A. Ackerman

February 15,1928 to December 2, 2009

Judge Ackerman was born on February 15, 1928. Judge Ackerman attended Seton Hall University between 1945 and 1948, during which time he served in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of sergeant. After returning from the service, he attended Rutgers Law School in Newark and received his law degree in 1951. After graduation, Judge Ackerman worked in private practice for three years before taking a position with the New Jersey Workmen’s Compensation Division of Labor and Industry in 1954. He began what would become a 54-year judicial career by becoming a judge of the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Court in 1955. He served in several state-court judicial posts between 1955 and 1979, including judgeships with the Union County District and County Courts, as well as the Law and Chancery Divisions of the Superior Court, before being nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey by President Jimmy Carter on September 28, 1979. Judge Ackerman received his commission on November 2, 1979, and was sworn in as a District Judge on January 3, 1980. Judge Ackerman assumed senior status on February 15, 1994.

During his tenure in the District of New Jersey, Judge Ackerman heard thousands of cases and presided over hundreds of trials and hearings, including many involving political corruption, organized crime, and fraud. In 1984, after a lengthy bench trial, Judge Ackerman held that a Teamsters local union had been controlled by organized crime through violence and intimidation, and became the first judge in the nation to assert federal control over a mob influenced union under the RICO statute. His tireless efforts over the next 14 years restored democracy to the union and helped rid the union of mob control. From 1986 to 1988, Judge Ackerman presided over what, at the time, was the longest criminal trial in American history: the prosecution of 20 alleged members of the Lucchese organized crime family. Judge Ackerman frequently sat by designation on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and in recent years he also sat by designation annually on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Judge Ackerman also served as a mediator with the Third Circuit’s Appellate Mediation Program, and he was renowned for his uncanny ability to settle cases.

Judge Ackerman loved this Court and his country, and enjoyed every minute of his service to the Court. Throughout his years on the bench, he fostered close relationships with his law clerks and staff. Judge Ackerman ate lunch with his law clerks every day, sharing his legendary stories and jokes, and considered his clerks part of his family. He served as a mentor and friend to his devoted law clerks, many of whom have gone on to have distinguished careers in public service and private practice, in academia, and on the bench. As a judge, he prided himself on treating all litigants fairly and with respect and courtesy. He lived by the motto inscribed in Latin on the bench in his Newark courtroom: “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.” Judge Ackerman’s fairness, humor, and larger-than-life presence is sorely missed.