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Brooklyn, NY - Retired Orthodox Supreme Court Judge Dies At 66

Published on: September 16, 2018 12:01 AM
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FILE - Judge Rachel Freier is sworn into office by her uncle David Schmidt seen on far left, while Judge Noach Dear looks On. Dec. 22 in New York. Photo: Stefano Giovannini/VIN news.FILE - Judge Rachel Freier is sworn into office by her uncle David Schmidt seen on far left, while Judge Noach Dear looks On. Dec. 22 in New York. Photo: Stefano Giovannini/VIN news.

Brooklyn, NY - A day after his passing, a long time Brooklyn Supreme Court judge is being remembered as the first sitting justice to take the bench wearing a yarmulke and a beard.

Justice David I. Schmidt of Borough Park passed away on Friday at the age of 66.  His niece, Judge Rachel Freier, said that he had been ill for the past two years.

A graduate of Brooklyn College, Schmidt had served in the Kings County Supreme Court system since 1995.  Known for his passion for settling cases, Schmidt is credited for arranging more than 15,000 settlements during his legal career and, after his retirement in 2015, he continued privately as an arbitrator and a mediator.


Freier described Schmidt as her mentor, saying she was inspired by him throughout her climb up the legal ladder, often expressing her own judicial aspirations. 

When Schmidt announced his retirement, clearing the way for Judge Noach Dear to take over his Supreme Court position, he encouraged Freier to launch her own campaign to win Dear’s civil court spot.

“A lot of people take credit for my winning but he was the one who made it happen,” Freier told VIN News.  “Everything was hard work, fair and square and I didn’t get a pass because I was his niece.  I still remember his election and his campaign; he had a slogan ‘a heimishe mentsh on the bench.’”

Once he became a judge, Schmidt was known for his preference for working in shirtsleeves at a table set up near the attorneys, foregoing his formal spot on the bench as well as his judicial robes.

“His courtroom was always busy and he would be sitting there conferencing the cases, always working much harder than he had to,” said Freier.  “His ethics for work were 110 percent and he was meticulous about following the law. He would always tell me even if your decisions aren’t popular, you have to follow the law.  Even if it goes against public opinion, you have to do what is right.”

The son of a Holocaust survivor, Schmidt kept his father’s concentration camp uniform in a glass case in his chambers.

“It reminded him of who he was and where he came from,” said Freier.

The father of four and a grandfather, Schmid’s highest priority was his family, recalled Freier.

“He was always doing carpool for his grandkids and babysitting,” said Freier. “Every Sunday for years, he would take his children and grandchildren to Mendelsohn’s pizza shop. He was just an incredible family man.”

Schmidt’s funeral will take place Sunday morning at 10 AM at Shomrei Hachomos in Borough Park.

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Read Comments (5)  —  Post Yours »


 Sep 16, 2018 at 01:12 AM Caroline Says:

A real mensch indeed. Personified kiddush Shem shamayim. I’ve seen him with his beautiful family at Mendelsohns. He was so involved with the grandchildren. Baruch Dayan Haemes. May he be a meilitz yosher.


 Sep 16, 2018 at 01:28 AM Satmar South 8 Says:

Judge Schmidt was a tzadik, he was involved in the Court Cases of Satmar South 8, Viznitz and Bobov, and sent them to Din Torah, taking out many jewish cases from court to settlement or rabbincal court, avoiding chilul hashem, may he be a meilitz yosher.


 Sep 16, 2018 at 10:55 AM Anonymous Says:

Anything written about him really doesn't do justice to the Tzaddik he was ,as well as a real Talmis Chochom ,all the way back to his Philly days ,with Rav Mendel Kaplan Z'TL.


 Sep 16, 2018 at 05:34 PM Chaim Says:

The man went out of his to bring peace and settlements between parties that were fighting like no tomorrow. Judge Schmidt was a true Zadik in every way possible.


 Nov 02, 2018 at 11:30 AM 5TResident Says:

I just found out about this today and I am heartbroken. Judge Schmidt A”H was a great judge and a great man. I appeared before him many times in my practice and he was always fair to everyone. The best thing about him was his anivus, his modesty. He never wore his judge’s robes and never sat on the judge’s bench, preferring instead to sit with the lawyers and litigants and work with them directly. He never put on airs. I remember one time when an elderly gentleman appeared in his courtroom on a case without an attorney. He told Judge Schmidt that his lawyer had dropped his case. Judge Schmidt adjourned his case for a month and told the gentleman to use the time to find another lawyer. He also gave the gentleman his personal card and told him that if he couldn’t find another lawyer, he should call Judge Schmidt and he’d find one for him! He knew it wasn’t fair for this gentleman not to have a lawyer when the other side did. That was Judge Schmidt. He was the embodiment of “tzedek tzedek tirdof”. He was a walking Kiddush Hashem, beloved by everyone in the Brooklyn courthouse, regardless of religion, race, creed or color. May he be a meilitz yosher for us all. Rest In Peace, Judge Schmidt, you are missed.


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