Brooklyn, NY — One of America’s top judicial minds will reflect on one of his most important cases when Judge Edward R. Korman gives the annual Samuel J. Konefsky Memorial Lecture on “The Swiss Banks Holocaust Case: A Measure of Justice” on Thursday, November 10, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Penthouse of the Brooklyn College Student Center, Campus Road and East 27 Street. The event is free and open to the public.
In 2004 Edward R. Korman, a member of the Brooklyn College Class of 1963, was the presiding judge in a landmark case brought by Holocaust survivors against Swiss banks who profited from the confiscated property of European Jews. His work on this case, which he describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime case for a judge,” gave him the opportunity to play a critical role in addressing one of great injustices of the twentieth century. This historic class-action lawsuit brought about a $1.25 billion settlement to survivors and relatives, and gave stark evidence about how the Nazi regime persecuted not only Jews, but Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, gays, disabled people, and others. “A comparison of needy survivors is by definition an odious process,” he wrote in one decision in the case. “All individuals who survived the Holocaust bear scars, and all merit relief.”
Judge Korman, 63, grew up in East New York and went to school in Flatbush. After earning a degree in political science at Brooklyn College he attended Brooklyn Law School and graduated in 1966. In public service and in private practice, he has earned a reputation for independence and integrity. He was the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn from 1978 to 1982 and in 1985, after several years in private practice, President Ronald Reagan appointed Korman a judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. In 1989, he ordered the extradition of a member of the Abu Nidal Organization to Israel to stand trial for a terrorist attack on a bus traveling between the West Bank and Tel Aviv. In 1996, he found that the New York State Republican Party’s presidential primary election access rules imposed an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote and ordered that the Republican Party put Steve Forbes and other candidates on the Republican primary presidential ballot statewide.
The annual lecture to be given by Judge Korman is named for the late Samuel J. Konefsky, professor of political science at Brooklyn College for more than thirty-five years. Professor Konefsky was a major intellectual presence in the department and on campus beginning in the mid-1930s. He authored several critically acclaimed books, including Chief Justice Stone and the Supreme Court (1945) and The Constitutional World of Mr. Justice Frankfurter (1949).
Previous Konefsky lecturers include Alan M. Dershowitz, Brooklyn College Class of 1959; the late Arthur Goldberg, former associate justice of the United States Supreme Court; Floyd Abrams, America’s pre-eminent First Amendment lawyer, the late Gerald Gunther, Brooklyn College Class of 1949 and for many years a professor at Stanford Law School; and Derrick Bell, of New York University Law School. The lecture is sponsored by the Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities in cooperation with the Department of Political Science. For more information, please call (718) 951-5847.