Vijay Shanker

Vijay Shanker, who has secured dozens of appellate victories for the Justice Department, joined the criminal division’s foreign bribery unit in 2019. He returned the appellate section in August 2021.

Shanker, who moved to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit in the criminal division’s fraud section on detail as senior litigation counsel, has been at the Department of Justice for more than 15 years. He has spent most of his DOJ career in the criminal division’s appellate section.

Shanker began his DOJ career as an attorney in the criminal division’s appellate section in 2005, according to his LinkedIn profile. He served for 18 months as acting deputy chief of staff and counselor to the assistant attorney general during Lanny Breuer’s tenure as criminal division chief. 

Shanker next became deputy chief of the criminal division’s appellate section in 2014, where he remained until July. Shanker has briefed and argued almost 60 federal criminal cases across twelve federal courts of appeals.

A Department of Justice press release from 2015 announcing that Shanker received the John Marshall Award for Handling of Appeals described the prosecutor as “soft-spoken” and “never flummoxed by… a long dormant statute suddenly restored to life”. He has secured dozens of appellate victories, the press release says, defending the convictions of corrupt public officials, drug dealers, narcoterrorists and violent carjackers.

Shanker litigated the case against Guantanamo Bay detainee Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, who was accused of orchestrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The slow-moving case has not yet been resolved and is stuck in pretrial hearings. 

Shanker has experience with appeals related to bribery. For example, he worked on the case of Mark Zimny, the former owner of a school admissions business who was convicted of defrauding clients in 2015. Zimny scammed parents by persuading them to use him as a middleman for donations (essentially, bribes) to Ivy League universities in order to help them secure admission for their children. But in 2017, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit released Zimny from jail after agreeing that there had been juror misconduct.

The prosecutor has also worked on a case concerning both mail and health fraud in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit over whether a 10-year delay between a defendant’s guilty plea and sentence violated due process. The Second Circuit ruled in favour of the government over the due process issue in 2018 because the defendant never requested sentencing. 

Shanker received his undergraduate degree in public policy from Duke University and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1999. He also clerked for Judge Chester Straub on the Second Circuit.

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