Brooklyn Boro

Justice Jules Spodek remembered by the legal community as a feisty jurist

October 23, 2019 Rob Abruzzese
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Justice Jules Spodek, a beloved member of the Brooklyn legal community, died on Oct. 11 at the age of 91 in his home in Brooklyn Heights. Justice Spodek was affectionately known as a feisty jurist, after a newspaper article described him that way in 2002 during one of the biggest trials in his life.

While he carried himself very seriously in his courtroom, the feisty jurist nickname was one his family always laughed at, including at his funeral last week.

“We found it funny that some people regarded as him as stern and strict. In a New York Post article in 2002, they even described him as a ‘feisty jurist,’” said Spodek’s grandson Sammy Glickman. “To us, he was the sweetest, kindest, most gentle man. While he may have been a strict judge in the courtroom, those who know the Spodek family knew that the real boss, and the one who always got the last word in was Grandma Horty.”

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Justice Jules Spodek with his wife Horty.

Justice Spodek is survived by his wife Hortense “Horty” Spodek; his two children Susan Glickman and Justice Ellen Spodek; four grandchildren, Melanie, Eric, Samuel and Hallie; and two great-grandchildren, Lilah and Levi.

Spodek was known as Julie to his friends, of whom he had many as he grew up in Midwood and worked throughout his career in Brooklyn.

A graduate of Brooklyn College and New York University School of Law, Spodek joined a two-attorney firm out of law school, Schoen and Spodek, which did general litigation work.

After roughly two decades in private practice, Spodek became a judge in the Brooklyn Civil Court in 1975 and eventually rose to the level of administrative judge. In 1981, he was elected to the Brooklyn Supreme Court, where he served until his retirement in 2004. Post-retirement, Spodek served as a judicial hearing officer for the court system and as a private mediator.

Spodek was known for his commitment to the law, fairness and justice amongst those in the legal community, and he was an active participant in the New York County Bar Association and the Brooklyn Bar Association.

Justice Lawrence Knipel, administrative judge of the Brooklyn Supreme Court, Civil Term, served as confidential law clerk to Spodek from 1982 through 1990 and said that Justice Spodek was the person who taught him to be a judge.

“Even after 28 years on the bench, I sometimes find myself using phrases I first learned at his elbow,” Justice Knipel said. “Justice Spodek’s ability, commitment and integrity set the gold standard to which all judges should aspire.”

His own daughter, Justice Ellen Spodek, said that after college she didn’t want to go to law school, but that her father always reminded her of the possibilities that a law degree would open up for her.

“He would say that he didn’t pressure me into going to law school if you asked him,” Ellen said. “But I wouldn’t be a judge if it weren’t for him. He used to always cut out wanted ads from the newspapers anytime he saw that they required a [law degree].”

Justice Spodek gained a bit of notoriety in New York City when, in 2002, he issued an injunction that forbade bus and subway workers from striking.

“Given the enormous, debilitating and destructive influence a strike would have, such action would wreak havoc upon this city,”’ Judge Spodek said at the time.

Justice Spodek was known as an active member of the East Meadow Jewish Center and Congregation Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights. He was also an amateur photographer and an avid sailor who served as a commodore at the Miramar Yacht Club in Sheepshead Bay. He often took his family sailing on his boat “The Three Belles” along the East Coast in the summer.

Justice Spodek was active politically and served as a delegate for the state of New York at the Democratic Party National Convention in Chicago in 1968 in support of Sen. Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign.

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