By David Brand
State Supreme Court Justice Jeremy Weinstein, the administrative judge in the Queens County Civil term, has accomplished a tremendous amount in his nearly 25 years on the bench.
Weinstein created a dedicated Matrimonial Part to address issues related to child support, visitation and related financial issues. He oversaw the development of a Foreclosure Part and a free Uncontested Matrimonial Clinic, where people receive assistant in uncontested divorces with no property, support or custody issues.
He even got the city to repair the civil courthouse’s broken elevator system that had long forced staff and litigants to climb several flights of stairs just to have their day in court.
But to Weinstein, no single achievement stands out. Each innovation and accomplishment reflects the pride he said he takes in “making things work.”
“I have a general sense of pride that we are doing things well on a day-to-day basis,” Weinstein said. “I take pride in keeping things going and making this courthouse effective and hopefully giving people a sense of justice.”
That effort does not go unnoticed.
In February, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore specifically recognized Weinstein during her annual State of the Judiciary Address.
“ln Queens, a county with 2.3 million residents, when we separate our foreclosure
docket. only 6 percent of the cases are over Standards and Goals,” DiFiore said, referring to the measure of the lifetime of a case and the speed in which it is resolved. “That is among the very best in the state, and proof positive that high case volume and court efficiency are not exclusive terms. Kudos to Judge Weinstein and the judges and their staffs in Queens County.”
Weinstein, a Queens native, grew up in Kew Gardens Hills and attended Jamaica High School. His father Moses Weinstein was a lawyer who served as speaker of the state assembly.
After graduating from York College and earning his law degree from Brooklyn School of Law, , Weinstein followed in his father’s footsteps. He entered politics, serving as deputy assistant attorney general and counsel to the state assembly speaker. In 1978, Weinstein was elected to the State Senate, where he served from 1979 until 1992.
“When people ask me how I decided on this career, I tell them I just went into my father’s business,” he said. “[And] the position of Yankees shortstop was taken.”
The family business was certainly strong. Weinstein’s brother also serves as a judge in Florida.
After his time as a state senator, Weinstein was elected to a judgeship in Queens County Civil Court in 1994. In 1997, he was appointed acting justice of the Supreme Court, Civil Term by administrative judge Jonathan Lippman. He was elected to a full term in 1999 and re-elected in 2014. He even served as administrative judge in criminal court for a stint from 2008 to 2009.
Weinstein said his time in the senate prepared him for a career on the bench because it enabled him to meet with and understand the concerns of Queens residents of diverse races, ethnicities, backgrounds and income levels.
“When you’re meeting with people on a daily basis, you meet all kinds of people from all kinds of worlds and all socioeconomic situations,” Weinstein said. “I learned to respect everyone and you take that onto the bench. People know when they come seeking justice that’s what they’ll get.”
Over the past quarter century, trends in the types of cases that appear in civil court have changed, but that commitment to ensuring litigants feel a sense of justice persists.
It’s a commitment that starts at the top and trickles down to the rest of the staff.
“I’m blessed by the personnel around me, by the court personnel in Queens County,” Weinstein said. “They are truly dedicated public servants. They love their jobs and they love to do them well and I’m very proud of them.”