Brooklyn Law School’s ‘Evidence Guru’ Prof. Richard Farrell dies at 80
The Brooklyn Law School (BLS) community is reeling this week after beloved professor Richard T. Farrell, a fixture on the campus for nearly 60 years, died on Wednesday at the age of 80.
Farrell graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1964 and immediately joined the faculty. He taught courses in evidence and New York civil practice and eventually became known as the “Evidence Guru” not only in Brooklyn, but throughout New York.
“He was a legend not only in Brooklyn legal community, but in the New York legal community,” said Hon. Barry Kamins, former administrative judge of the Kings County Supreme Court, Criminal Term. “Everyone, from judges to prosecutors and defense counsel, would use his treatise on evidence. He’s the guru on evidence that people admired for so many years. The students loved him because he taught in such an easy manner that he was a joy in the classroom.”
Farrell retired from teaching in 2014 and the following year the school honored him on Ellis Island as a BLS icon during its annual Icons Gala. He also clerked for Court of Appeals Judge John F. Scileppi from 1965 to 1967.
Farrell was the author of “Prince, Richardson on Evidence” and its annual supplements. It is considered the preeminent text on the New York law of evidence and is found in most criminal courtrooms in the state.
“His treatise will live on for many, many years and I just hope that the publisher gets someone to continue that,” Kamins said.
Farrell is famous among his students for his “lifetime guarantee,” where he promised students they could consult with him “anytime, anywhere” if they needed legal advice. He was given the Wilbur A. Levin Award as a Distinguished Service Professor of Law by BLS in 2005.
“Dick Farrell was one of a kind, and during his 50 years on the faculty he became, in many ways, synonymous with Brooklyn Law School,” said BLS Dean Nick Allard. “Stories about him from his legions of students, fellow members of the faculty and vast army of friends and Damon Runyonesque characters in the community would fill many books on an entire library shelf.
“I know that everyone in our extended Brooklyn Law School community extends our deepest sympathy to his entire family,” Allard continued.
Farrell taught outside the classroom and traveled to various bar associations, including many stops at the Brooklyn Bar Association, to give continuing legal education seminars on topics related to evidence and civil practice.
Farrell is survived by his wife Carol and their four sons Christopher, Thomas, Richard and Sean Farrell.
A wake will be held for Farrell on Saturday, Feb. 10 and Sunday, Feb. 11 at Ralph Aievoli & Son Funeral Home in Brooklyn. The funeral will be Monday at 9:45 a.m. at The Shrine Church of St. Bernadette on 13th Avenue in Brooklyn.
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