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    09.28.17 Albert Tomei ‘64, Judge Who Helped End Executions in New York, Dies at 77
    Judge Albert Tomei ‘64

    Judge Albert Tomei ‘64, known as a pillar of the legal community who served as a judge in Brooklyn for 37 years, died on Sept. 22 at age 77. Tomei was best known for his rejection in 1997 of a murder defendant’s plea bargain that crippled New York State’s recently revived death penalty. Thanks in large part to his ruling, no inmate has been executed in New York since 1963.

    Tomei, a Brooklyn native, worked as a criminal defense attorney before being elected to the Civil Court bench in 1978. In 1994, he was elected to the New York State Supreme Court, where he served in the Criminal Term for 21 years. He also spent time as an interim Surrogate Court judge in 2005.

    Tomei’s career was long and noteworthy. He witnessed suicide and murder attempts in his courtroom, quoted Scripture to a priest convicted of child molestation and once penalized dawdling prosecutors by dismissing charges against a serial rapist.

    The uncle of the actress Marissa Tomei, he often joked that his niece took away some of his stature, as he became known as Marisa’s uncle, but he was a bit of an actor and a comedian himself. He was a member of a Brooklyn Heights theatre group and had roles in many productions. He is also remembered by his colleagues for his stand-up routines during an annual judges’ conference.

    “He was known for his sharp wit, so one year they invited him to do something like five or 10 minutes of standup comedy,” New York City Criminal Court Justice Barry Kamins, an adjunct professor at the Law School, told The Brooklyn Eagle. “He was very entertaining, cracking jokes related to the courts. It became an annual thing where he would do 20 minutes of stand-up every year. Judges looked forward to it.”

    Judge Tomei also became known around the community for his work performing civil wedding ceremonies. After retirement, he worked for Love Inc., a service where couples can hire judges for their ceremonies.

    “Judge Tomei was the total package,” said Michael Farkas ’94, a criminal defense attorney who honored the Judge at a ceremony at the Kings County Criminal Bar Association upon his retirement in 2015. “He was universally well regarded by prosecutors and defense attorneys alike. He was a serious judge but also a sharp wit who made everyone comfortable in every situation. They broke the mold with Al Tomei. A great judge and an even greater person.”

    The New York Times: Albert Tomei, Judge Who Doomed New York Executions, Dies at 77   

    Brooklyn Daily Eagle: Judge Tomei remembered for his sharp wit and ability to handle complex trials