The Brooklyn Law School community mourns the loss of an extraordinary and beloved colleague, teacher, trustee, former dean and great friend. The son of Solomon and Clara Trager, who emigrated from Vienna to the United States at the end of World War I, David was raised in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and was a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School.
As a young lawyer, David trained under the great trial lawyer, Emile Zola Berman, and then served successively as law clerk to New York State Court of Appeals Judge Kenneth Keating and Chief Judge Stanley Fuld. He then began a career that combined law school teaching and public service. From 1970 to 1972, he served as Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and Chief of the Appeals Division. In 1972, he joined the faculty of Brooklyn Law School, with which he was associated until his death. In 1974, was appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York by President Richard Nixon.
When David took office, he pledged to hire only “the most qualified lawyers that can be attracted,” selected solely on the basis of their ability, and he increased the hiring of women and minority assistants. He was the first U.S. Attorney in the country to create part-time positions for Assistant U.S. Attorneys. He also pledged to conduct business “in a completely independent and nonpolitical fashion,” and to “enforce the laws vigorously against all who violate them." He kept that pledge, a fact recognized by President Jimmy Carter who continued him in office.
In 1978, he returned to Brooklyn Law School, where he taught Constitutional Law and Conflict of Laws and, in 1983, was appointed Dean of the Law School. During his tenure as Dean, the School made great progress in virtually every area. He was instrumental in attracting nationally renowned and promising new scholars and made the School a magnet for visiting professors from around the world. Under his leadership, the School embarked on what was at the time the most ambitious capital expansion program in its history, including construction of an architecturally acclaimed addition to the School’s main building and the purchase of the School’s first residence halls.
David was a formidable multi-tasker; while serving as Dean, he also served as Chair of the State Commission of Investigation, as a member of the New York City Charter Revision Commission, as President of the Federal Bar Council, and as Chairman of Mayor Koch’s Committee on the Judiciary. In 1993, he was appointed United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, and continued his affiliation with Brooklyn Law School as a member of the Board of Trustees and as an Adjunct Professor. His role in raising the School to new heights was indispensable and his mark on Brooklyn Law School is indelible.
We extend our deepest sympathy to David’s wife, Roberta Weisbrod, their children, Mara (Isaac Koyfman), Josiah, and Naomi, grandchildren Nathaniel and Hannah, his brother, Arthur, and the entire family.
Chairman of the Board
Joan G. Wexler
Michael A. Gerber
Read remarks from Judge Trager's memorial service at BLS.