2018 Scholar-in-Residence

Albie Sachs

Albie Sachs Albie Sachs became an activist at the age of 17. As a second-year law student at the University of Cape Town, he took part in the Defiance Campaign and went on to attend the Congress of the People in Kliptown, where the Freedom Charter was adopted in 1955. Three decades later, shortly after the bomb attack that cost him his arm and the sight in one eye, he was called on by the Constitutional Committee of the ANC to co-draft the first outline of a Bill of Rights for a New Democratic South Africa. 

Albie Sachs spent decades fighting apartheid as a lawyer and activist. In 1994, President Nelson Mandela appointed Albie to the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest court. Many of Justice Sachs’s best known judgments are on discrimination law. He was the main author of the majority judgment in Prinsloo v Van der Linde, which established the connection between the right to equality and dignity. He was the author of the Court’s majority judgment in Minister of Home Affairs v Fourie, in which the Court declared unconstitutional South Africa’s stature defining marriage to be between one man and one woman.  

Justice Sachs is the author of Soft Vengeance of a Freedom FighterThe Jail Diary of Albie SachsSexism and the LawOliver’s Tambo’s Dream, and We, the People. He was instrumental in assembling the Constitutional Court Art Collection, representing an historical perspective on a nation’s apartheid history and journey to equality. 


2017 Scholar-in-Residence

George J. Mitchell

george mitchell Born the fourth of five children to a Lebanese,immigrant textile worker and a janitor who was the orphan son of Irish immigrants, Mitchell rose from modest, small-town origins to become one of the most respected and accomplished leaders in America. His integrity and skills as a problem solver have been sought domestically and internationally at the highest levels.

As the Senate majority leader, Mitchell championed landmark legislation on clean air and water, income tax, and healthcare reform. His success came from honest negotiation, not from playing partisan politics, as he describes in his memoir, The Negotiator. Later, Mitchell was tapped to forge peace treaties and navigate sensitive international conflicts. He worked to achieve the Good Friday Agreement to bring peace to Northern Ireland, appointed by President Clinton, and as U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East under President Obama. Respected for his commitment to fairness, Mitchell chaired commissions on questions facing the Olympic bidding processes and the doping scandal surrounding Major League Baseball.

“Given Senator Mitchell’s impressive career in law and politics – and wonderful wit and frank style – he is an ideal scholar-in-residence,” said Camille Massey, founding executive director of the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice. “As a young man, he worked a full-time job, while studying law at night, and will be an inspiration to aspiring social justice lawyers interested in working from local to global.”

Senator George Mitchell, who is currently a Partner and Chairman Emeritus at the law firm DLA Piper, will begin his tenure at the Sorensen Center on January 18, 2017. He will engage in intimate conversations with students, faculty, and staff on a wide range of issues, including peace negotiations, sustainability issues, ethics, and the U.S. political climate.


2017 Scholar-in-Residence

Gabrielle Kirk McDonald

GabrielleMcDonald Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald was among the first eleven judges elected to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

She was selected by the United Nations with the highest number of votes, and later elected President of the Tribunal. She presided over the Tribunal’s first trial in the Tadić case, which resulted in a conviction for crimes against humanity. Judge McDonald also served as a judge on the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal.

Before her international judicial work, Judge McDonald was a United States District Judge for the Southern District of Texas, only the third African-American woman to be selected for the federal judiciary. Judge McDonald began her legal career as a staff attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York City and continued as a civil rights attorney with firms in Texas. She taught at several law schools, and has written many articles on International Criminal Law.

Raised in New York and New Jersey, Judge McDonald attended Boston University and Hunter College and is a graduate of Howard University School of Law, first in her class.

“We are delighted to welcome globally renowned jurist Judge Gabrielle McDonald, starting in early 2017,” said Camille Massey, founding executive director of the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice. “Judge McDonald is a stellar role model for our students and will provide important and highly relevant context to our work on civil rights and international criminal justice.”


2015-16 Scholar-in-Residence

Rosemary Barkett

barkett-kirchmeier Judge Rosemary Barkett has joined the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice as the scholar-in-residence for the 2016-2016 academic year.

Judge Barkett joined the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague in October 2013. Immediately prior to joining The Tribunal, Judge Barkett served for almost two decades as one of twelve active judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. She has written landmark opinions in many areas, including immigration, constitutional law, labor rights, sexual harassment, disability rights, privacy rights, and rights of speech and association. She previously served as the first woman Justice in the Florida Supreme Court’s history and was chosen to become Florida’s first woman Chief Justice.

“Judge Barkett is a splendid scholar-in-residence, given her deep commitment to improving justice and her years of experience working on the judiciary from the local to global,” said Camille Massey, founding executive director of the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice. “Judge Barkett is a dynamo with a remarkable personal story who clearly loves engaging with aspiring social justice lawyers.”

Judge Barkett’s parents were originally from Syria and moved to Mexico where Judge Barkett was born in Ciudad Victoria. When she was six, her family moved to Miami and she later became a U.S. citizen.

Judge Barkett will be in residence at the Sorensen Center in CUNY Law for several weeks this month and again in the spring of 2016. She will guest lecture, lead seminars, speak at public events, and engage in a series of intimate conversations with students, faculty and staff on a wide range of issues, including gender-based violence, the death penalty, unaccompanied minors, and her work at the tribunal.

(Pictured, above: Judge Rosemary Barkett in conversation with students about death penalty as part of the Sorensen Center’s “Critical Voices” series with Professor Jeffrey Kirchmeier presiding.)


2014-15 Scholar-in-Residence

Richard J. Goldstone

goldstone-235x280.jpg Former South African Constitutional Court Justice Richard J. Goldstone, J.D., has joined the newly established Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice as its inaugural scholar-in-residence for the fall semester of 2014. He will guest lecture, lead seminars, speak at public events, and engage in a series of intimate conversations with students and faculty at CUNY Law.

“Justice Goldstone is the ideal first scholar-in-residence, given his extraordinary contributions to the field of international human rights and CUNY Law School’s deep connections to South Africa and commitment to global justice,” said Camille Massey, founding executive director of the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice. “Justice Goldstone’s residency will provide inspiration to aspiring social justice lawyers and help carry forth Ted Sorensen’s legacy. He and Ted knew and much admired each other, so this is an auspicious start to our scholars-in-residence program.”

Goldstone was a judge in South Africa for 23 years, the last nine as a justice of the Constitutional Court. He played a major role in the transition from apartheid South Africa to democracy. From 1994 to 1996 he was the chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, during which time systematic rape was recognized as a war crime.

CUNY School of Law is the premier public interest law school in the country. The Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice will build on the work of CUNY Law and foster the legacy of Ted Sorensen, long-time close advisor and speechwriter to President John F. Kennedy, by nurturing students committed to practicing public interest law. The Sorensen Center will equip students with international experience and expertise to become leaders in the field.


Video Clips

A Conversation with Justice Richard J. Goldstone

Justice Richard J. Goldstone is the first scholar-in-residence at the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice at CUNY School of Law. Camille Massey, the center’s founding executive director, joined Goldstone in a conversation about the role he played in the transition from apartheid South Africa to democracy, and other topics.


South Africa's Transition to Democracy: Lessons for Peace and Justice

November 6, 2014 - A discussion with Justice Richard J. Goldstone, the inaugural Scholar-in-Residence at the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice, with presider Penny Andrews, President and Dean of Albany Law School. A CUNY School of Law Public Square Live event.