News Release

Judge L. Felipe “Phil” Restrepo Receives the Champion of Justice Judicial Recognition Award from Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar

Washington, DC (August 7, 2019) – Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge L. Felipe “Phil” Restrepo was awarded the Champion of Justice Judicial Recognition Award at the NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice’s (NFCJ) Gala in Philadelphia, PA, on August 2. 

Judge Restrepo, who could not be there personally to receive the award, was honored in recognition of his role in establishing and overseeing the Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) Program in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Theodore McKee, and recent graduate from the STAR program, Antione Norman, accepted the award on Judge Restrepo’s behalf.

The STAR Program is a reentry program created in 2007 by the Board of Judges of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. It is a federal reentry court program for Philadelphia residents on supervised release. The program’s objectives include preventing recidivism, reducing the high rate of violent crime in Philadelphia, and assisting high-risk, returning citizens with the multiple social, familial, and logistical issues they confront upon their return to society after years in prison.

“Experiencing these group court sessions makes one swell with pride to be a lawyer given the care and compassion that Judges Timothy R. Rice and L. Felipe Restrepo demonstrate with their reentry participants,” said NFCJ Vice President and NACDL Past President Theodore Simon. “It is a holistic approach addressing virtually all of their personal needs, including employment, educational, legal, financial, as well as treatment. Clearly, there is love in the room.”

Every two weeks, up to 20 participants appear as a group before Judge Restrepo or another federal magistrate judge to report on their progress. The participants are also intensively supervised by the U.S. Probation Officer assigned to reentry court. The Court and Federal Probation Office assist with education, training, employment, and other needs and impose graduated sanctions when necessary. After participants successfully complete 52 weeks, they are eligible for a reduction of up to one year of their supervised release period.

See a complete list of past winners of the Champion of Justice Judicial Recognition Award.

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Madeline Sklar, NACDL Public Affairs and Communications Assistant, (202) 465-7647 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.