Weinstein to discuss civil rights, liberties

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Jack B. Weinstein, senior U.S. District Judge of the Eastern District of New York and longtime Honorary trustee of Temple Emanuel of Great Neck, will speak from the temple’s pulpit on Friday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m.

He will offer the talk: “A Summing Up: Civil Rights & Civil Liberties in the United States During My 96 Years.”

For 50 years, Weinstein has championed an independent judiciary.

As a federal district judge (and later chief judge) he has written, lectured, and testified about the importance of fostering strong, free-thinking jurists in the U.S. courts; as a senior judge he continued to go his own way, refusing to hear drug cases because he disagreed with federal sentencing guidelines.

He has written that the strict sentences imposed in drug cases often do not fit the crime…and have not proven to be an appropriate or effective deterrent.

One of the few judges to have completed 50 years serving the bench, he has no plans to retire anytime soon.

“An occasional nap” during the day and a refreshing view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the 14th floor window of his office chamber help keep the energy alive, he said, in a recent New York Law Journal profile.

In a 2013 profile, former Eastern District Judge, John Gleeson, said: “Imagine a colleague who in busy times when everyone’s work backs up, says ‘Send me all your backed-up work’ and then does it, asking nothing in return.”

Most recently, according to Alan Feuer writing in the New York Times (Aug. 24, 2017), Weinstein “issued a court rule urging a more visible and substantive role for young female lawyers working on cases he is hearing.”

Weinstein commented that he had been influenced by the findings in a report “that showed…women were the lead lawyers about 25 percent of the time at trials and court hearings across New York State last year.”

The new rule was well-received by New York’s female lawyers.

Weinstein, known for his handwritten notes and heartfelt holiday wishes, said, “Judging is an art, not a science. I have to see the real people, the real scenes and feel the problem in my bones.”

He once put it simply: “A judge should be concerned about the dignity and welfare of every person that appears in court.”

All members of the community are invited to attend the Sabbath Eve Service. Temple Emanuel of Great Neck is located at 150 Hicks Lane. For further information, please call 516.482.5701.

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