Queens DA Richard Brown Dies at 86; Helped Improve Administration of Justice

Richard Brown, who for almost 30 years served as the Queens District Attorney, is dead at 86. Photo Credit: CBS

Richard Brown, who for almost 30 years served as the Queens District Attorney, is dead at 86.

Brown died Saturday morning at the Meadow Ridge rehabilitation center in Redding, Conn., where he had been for the past week after a fall.

“He had recently handed over the reigns of the office to Assistant District Attorney John Ryan, but kept up with day-to-day operations, relatives said. “Until a week ago, he was calling the office multiple times a day, checking in with what was going on,” his son-in-law Bruce Foodman told the New York Daily News.

A tribute to Brown, penned by Scott E. Mollen, was posted on the New York Law Journal’s web site. It reads in part: “District Attorney Richard Brown was a superb and beloved family patriarch, public servant, role model and a great friend to many people. I was privileged to be one of those friends.

“He was an outstanding jurist who, together with his colleagues, strove to advance the work and reputation of the Appellate Division, Second Department, when my father was its presiding justice. In addition to hearing cases, he enthusiastically embraced opportunities to improve the administration of justice by sharing the expertise he had acquired while serving as counsel to Governor Hugh Carey. In such capacity, he had interfaced with many administrative agencies and the legislature.”

Brown was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, New York. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hobart College in 1953, graduated from New York University School of Law in June 1956 and was admitted to the Bar by the Appellate Division, Second Department in October 1956.

Prior to becoming a member of the judiciary in September 1973, Judge Brown spent nine years serving in various important legal positions on behalf of the leadership of the New York State Senate and Assembly and at the 1967 New York State Constitutional Convention and four years as New York City’s Legislative Representative in Albany where he managed the City’s Albany office and supervised its legislative program.

After serving as a Judge of the Criminal Court for less than two years, Judge Brown was appointed as Supervising Judge of the Brooklyn Criminal Court and assumed full administrative responsibility for the operation of that court and supervision of all judicial and non-judicial personnel. In January 1976, Judge Brown was designated as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

In November 1977, Judge Brown was elected a Justice of the Supreme Court in Queens County. At the end of the following year he returned to Albany as Counsel to Governor Hugh L. Carey where he served as the Governor’s chief legal advisor. On March 3, 1981, Judge Brown returned to the Supreme Court and the following year was designated by Governor Carey as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department. He was thereafter twice re-designated as a member of the Appellate Division by Governor Mario M. Cuomo.