Carmen M. Ortiz, who as United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts took on such high profiles cases as those of Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and fugitive Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, has been named the Jerome Lyle Rappaport Visiting Professor at Boston College Law School for the fall 2017 semester, the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy announced.
“This endowed visiting professorship allows us to bring thoughtful government leaders to the Law School for a semester or more to interact with our students and faculty around current public policy problems, and to teach a course within their unique area of expertise,” said BC Law Dean Vincent Rougeau. “The Rappaport Distinguished Visiting Professorship has really enriched our curriculum and our community.”
Ortiz will teach a seminar class on national security and participate in several panel discussions as part of the Rappaport Distinguished Public Policy Series, which sponsors forums and conferences to address societal issues with public leaders. She succeeds Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland and a 2016 presidential candidate, who was the first to hold the professorship since the Rappaport Center moved to the Law School in 2015.
“I am honored and excited that I will be a member of Boston College Law School’s Rappaport Center this fall, where I will have the opportunity to work with law students in an exceptional program that seeks to build future leaders interested in serving the public and addressing the many challenges we face in this nation,” Ortiz said in a statement. “I am looking forward to sharing my experiences and perspective as we discuss critical national security issues as well as having the opportunity to participate in programs the center designs to better understand our foreign policy, our criminal justice system, and our roles as lawyers at this important time in our country.”
“Ms. Ortiz’s wealth of experience in both state and federal government will be a tremendous asset to our students, both inside and outside the classroom,” said BC Law Professor and Rappaport Faculty Director R. Michael Cassidy. “She is an accomplished lawyer and leader in the profession. I am particularly excited about the opportunities to work with Carmen in developing engaging programming for our community in the areas of criminal law and civil rights.”
A seasoned prosecutor, Ortiz was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 to be Massachusetts’ chief federal law enforcement officer, becoming the first woman and first Hispanic to hold the post. During her more than seven years in office, she oversaw 250 attorneys and staff, implemented the district’s first Civil Rights Unit, and served on the United States Attorney General’s Advisory Committee.
Among the other complex criminal and civil cases she handled as US Attorney were numerous health care fraud investigations that resulted in significant financial settlements, among them healthcare giants GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Johnson & Johnson. Her office won convictions against Tarek Mehanna for providing material support to al Qaeda and against Boston City Council member Chuck Turner, State Senator Dianne Wilkerson, and Massachusetts Speaker of the House Salvatore DiMasi for corruption.
During the 1980s and until she became an Assistant US Attorney in 1997, Ortiz was an attorney with the US Department of Justice Criminal Division, an Assistant District Attorney in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and a lawyer in private practice. From 1989 through 1992, she was a Program Associate and Training Coordinator at Harvard Law School’s Center for Criminal Justice, directing the Harvard/Guatemala Criminal Justice Project, working on reforms and training judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys in Guatemala.
Ortiz also worked on a number of special, short-term investigations during her professional career. In 1991, on behalf of the National Football League, she investigated allegations of sexual harassment by a female sports reporter against several players of the New England Patriots. She also was part of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee team in 1992 that investigated the “October Surprise,” the Congressional inquiry into allegations that members of the 1980 Reagan/Bush presidential campaign delayed the release of 52 American hostages held by Iran.
Ortiz was named Bostonian of the Year by the Boston Globe in 2012 and Latina Lawyer of the Year in 2014 by the Hispanic National Bar Association, among many other accolades. She is a graduate of George Washington University Law School.