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Read a Judge’s Letter of Recommendation for Elias Irizarry

Tanya S. Chutkan
Judge
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
June 1, 2023
E. BARRETT PRETTYMAN COURTHOUSE
WASHINGTON, DC 20001
202-354-3390
The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina
Admissions Office
171 Moultrie Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29409
Re:
Letter of Recommendation for Elias Irizarry for Readmission to The Citadel
Dear Admissions Office,
I am writing to recommend Elias Irizarry for readmission to The Citadel. I first encountered Mr.
Irizarry in 2021, when he appeared as a defendant in one of my cases, and I have had the opportunity to
learn more about him during the plea hearing, status conferences, and sentencing hearing. It is rare for
me to write a letter on behalf of a defendant, and this is the first time I have done so to recommend a
defendant for college admission. But Mr. Irizarry impressed me and has demonstrated that he is an
individual worthy of a second chance.
In considering Mr. Irizarry’s particular circumstances, I am reminded of the words of human
rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson: “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” These
words acknowledge the potential for growth and transformation within us all, especially for someone as
young as Mr. Irizarry, who was only 19 years old when he committed the offense for which I sentenced
him. I ask that you look beyond Mr. Irizarry’s past mistakes, for which he has demonstrated genuine
remorse, defer to his exceptionally positive history, and allow him the opportunity to prove that the sum
of his character extends beyond a singular flawed decision.
Mr. Irizarry is a bright young man who wishes to serve his community and his country. He has
been a diligent and committed student and community member and received outstanding grades and
numerous accolades from esteemed institutions like The Citadel, the United States Marine Corps, Model
UN, and JROTC. Over the past five years, he has dedicated nearly 600 hours to community service,
assisting at hurricane sites and a Veterans Hospital. He has further demonstrated his commitment for
civil service by completing training to become a FEMA volunteer firefighter.
Although Mr. Irizarry’s actions were serious and were dealt with as such, it is important to weigh
his youth and susceptibility to influence. As a judge and the mother of two sons in their twenties, I
know that Mr. Irizarry is at a crucial inflection point for young adults. The educational system, like the
criminal justice system, can serve as a catalyst for positive transformation, enabling youth to learn from
their mistakes.
Accordingly, I write this letter because Mr. Irizarry has displayed impressive sincerity, remorse,
and a determination to make amends. I believe that if he is given the opportunity to re-enroll at The
Citadel, he will continue to thrive academically and personally, as well as encourage others to overcome
obstacles and pursue public service.
Should you require any further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Sincerely,
Tanya S. Chutkan
Tanya S. Chutkan

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