Noach Dear, whose political work began in the early 1980s, never dreamed he’d rise to wear the robes of a Supreme Court justice back when he was an unknown Democratic district leader in Flatbush. But, as it turned out, district leader was just the starting point for Dear, who served as a community board district manager, a city councilman, New York City’s Taxi and Limousine commissioner, and a criminal and civil court judge before he began presiding over Courtroom 756 in Kings County Supreme Court. Justice Dear invited the Park Slope Courier to his chambers, where we asked him about his road to 360 Adams St.
James Harney: You’ve come far since your days as a young councilman representing Flatbush and Borough Park. How was that journey?
Noach Dear: Part of [being a district leader] is to help judges go through the elective process, and I was involved in that. My colleagues and others around me were attorneys. And when I would do constituent work, the question ‘Are you an attorney?’ would always come up. I realized that knowing the law is one thing, but practicing it would be an interesting addition to my position. So I went to Brooklyn Law School at night and during the summer while serving on the City Council.
JH: How did becoming an attorney change your career?
ND: I eventually left City Council and became Taxi and Limousine Commissioner for a couple of years. That allowed me to use my legal skills, because the commission is like an appellate court in that after a driver’s license is revoked, he has the right to appeal to the commission. Then an opportunity to run for civil court judge came, and I was encouraged to by a lot of different people who felt I could make a difference on the bench. So I ran and got elected.
JH: How did you gain your reputation as a backlog-buster who moves a lot of cases?
ND: When I was on the Brooklyn Civil Court bench, I did some backup work in Brooklyn Criminal Court and Staten Island Criminal Court. There was a tremendous backlog. I saw the problem: We had multiple agencies — the police department, the DA’s office, the correction department — [involved], on top of the court system itself. So I zeroed in on that. And if there was a lull I would find out why.
JH: It’s been more than a year since you overtook the Supreme Court’s foreclosure cases. How has that gone?
ND: There were doubters, but I said, ‘Give it a chance.’ In January 2016, the number [of backlogged cases] was between 11,000 and 12,000. Since then, my court alone has handled 7,000 or 8,000, and received dispositions in about 4,000. So we’re close to 50 percent. But it’s not a numbers game, we’re here to make sure justice is served.
JH: Can you tell me a little about your family life?
ND: I have four daughters who are all married to very successful men. I’ve got grandchildren, too, and my girls are all successful themselves. They’re full-time moms, and one is very active in her community’s schools. She takes after her dad. I could see her or some of her sisters running for office if they were inclined.
JH: What does the future hold for Noach Dear?
ND: I’ve been here for almost 10 years. If you would have asked me 10-and-a-half years ago what I would be doing now, I never would have said being a judge. I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I always tell everyone, I don’t want to be known as good, I want to be known as fair. A judge known for doing the right thing.” — James Harney
©2017 Community News Group
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