Rappaport Distinguished Visiting Professor
Carmen Ortiz is the Rappaport Distinguished Visiting Professor for the Fall 2017 semester. 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 of US Attorney. 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, she 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. Prior to this, Ortiz had graduated from George Washington University Law School. 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 is a member of the Board of Trustees for Discovering Justice, a Boston-based civic and justice education nonprofit organization offering in-school, after-school, and courthouse field trip programs that teach elementary and middle school students about the justice system, the role of law in a democratic society, and the fundamental importance of good citizenship.