Distinguished Alumnus and Federal Judge to Keynote Fall Commencement
United States District Judge Raymond A. Jackson will deliver the keynote address at Norfolk State University’s commencement ceremony, scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday, December 8, at Joseph G. Echols Hall.
Jackson, an NSU alumnus, was nominated in 1993 by then-President William Jefferson Clinton to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. His confirmation by the U.S. Senate made him the first African American to serve as a federal judge in the South Hampton Roads area and the 76th African American among the nation’s more than 700 federal judges.
During Jackson’s tenure as a United States District judge, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld his decision to consider the disparity in penalties for crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses in determining appropriate criminal sentences in the precedent-setting case United States v. Kimbrough. This often cited case has significantly changed the way federal judges throughout the nation now sentence criminal defendants.
He has achieved distinction throughout his academic and professional career. At Norfolk State University he served as president of the Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, chief justice of the student court and cadet brigade commander. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, graduating with honors and was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia and began active duty as a captain in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the United States Army. His career includes serving as head of the Criminal Law Division at Fort Monroe, Virginia; becoming the second African American hired in the Norfolk United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he served in several capacities including chief of the Criminal Division, chief of the Civil Division and executive assistant and manager of the South Hampton Roads and Peninsula regions.
Jackson served on the governing body of the Virginia State Bar, the Bar Council, the Executive Committee, and as chairman of the Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline. He is past president of both the I’Anson-Hoffman Chapter of the American Inns of Court and the Old Dominion Bar Association.
His memberships include the Judicial Conference for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the United States District Judges Association, the Virginia Law Foundation, the Federal Judge Association, the Maritime Law Association, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., a lifetime member of the Norfolk State University Norfolk Alumni Chapter and a member of the Norfolk State University Academy of Distinguished Alumni.