Isreal Leo Glasser was born in New York City in 1924. He attended the College of the City of New York until 1943 when he joined the US Army, serving as Army Technician.

He was sent to Europe where he saw action and was awarded the Bronze Star, the US Army's award for for bravery, cited for heroic achievement in connection with military operations against an armed enemy.

After the war, he entered law school and graduated in 1948, accepting a position as professor. Until 1969, he was known as professor Glasser of Brooklyn Law School.

In 1969, he was appointed to the bench, the Family Court of the State of New York, a position he held until 1977 when he returned to the Brooklyn Law School to serve as dean until 1981.

US President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the U. S. District Court, Eastern District of New York in 1981.

Israel Leo GlasserHe is also well-known for the unenviable job of presiding over the trials of mafia bosses.

In 1992, he was assigned the sensational murder trial of mafia boss John Gotti, then 51, and who had been acquitted on the last three occasions he had faced criminal charges.

Gotti tried to intimidate Glasser throughout the trial, calling him a faggot and yelling out "1919 White Sox", to suggest that the trial was rigged. Glasser drew the mafia boss' wrath when he disqualified his longtime lawyer Bruce Cutler because Cutler had been a party to recorded conversations the prosecution intended on sharing with the jury.

There were numerous bomb threats and some jurors were removed after succumbing to anxiety for fear of retribution, even though Glasser had kept their identities secret (they were known only by numbers). At one point, Glasser cleared the gallery and lectured Gotti to keep his mouth shut during the trial or:

"You will watch this trial on a television screen downstairs. I am not going to tell you that again."

When the jury found Gotti guilty of all 13 murder charges, Glasser did his job and sentenced Gotti to life in prison without parole (Gotti died in prison in 2002).

When, in 2003, he gave Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, also known as the Oddfather by the press, a three year sentence for obstruction of justice, Gigante's yelled up to Glasser: "God bless you".

In 2002, at the age of 78, he presided over the trial of two mafia  septuagenarians, John "Johnny Green" Faraci, 79, and Jerome Brancato, 74. According to an article published by the National Legal and Policy Centre:

"When Faraci's attorney ... noted that his client, whose criminal record spans nearly 25 years, had fought in WWII's Battle of Normandy and won the Bronze Star, the unimpressed 78-year old judge snapped, 'So did I'."

The scholarly Glasser's legacy is blackened only by his reputation for taking forever to render judgment. Lawyers call his court the black hole. In one case, Brown v. Trion Industries, he took 11 years to make his decision!

REFERENCES:

  • Carvajal, D., Awaiting Judgment: A special report.; New York's Clogged U.S. Courts Delaying Civil Verdicts for Years, New York Times, April 17, 1995
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, The Law's Hall of Fame
  • Horowitz, C., Judge Suggests Aging Crooks Retire, May 12, 2002, National Legal and Policy Centre at nlpc.org
  • Lubasch, A., Gotti Guilty of Murder and Racketeering, New York Times, April 3, 1992