Charles L. Brieant
Charles LaMonte Brieant, Jr., (March 13, 1923 – July 20, 2008) was a United States federal judge.
Early life, education, and career
Born 1923 in Ossining, New York, Brieant was in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, from 1943 to 1946, and then received a B.A. from Columbia University in 1947, and an LL.B. from Columbia Law School in 1949. He was in private practice in White Plains, New York, from 1949 to 1971. While practicing, Brieant served as Water Commissioner for Ossining from 1949 to 1951, at which point he was elected Town Justice. He went on to serve as Village Attorney for Briarcliff Manor (1958–1959), Special Assistant District Attorney for Westchester County (1958–1959) and a Town Supervisor of Ossining (1960–1963). He was elected to the Westchester County Legislature in 1970.
Federal judicial service
On June 24, 1971, President Richard Nixon nominated Brieant to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated by John F. McGohey. Brieant was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 29, 1971, and received his commission the same day. He served as Chief Judge for the Southern District from 1986 to 1993, replacing Constance Baker Motley, who assumed senior status. In the late 1980s, he was sent a box of chocolates anonymously. His wife ate several of the candies, and became violently ill. Investigation determined that the chocolates had been sent by John Buettner-Janusch, the former chairman of the New York University (NYU) Anthropology Department, who had been sentenced to prison by Judge Brieant after being convicted of making illegal drugs. Buettner-Janusch was convicted of attempted murder.
Brieant was known as "Charlie" by his close friends and colleagues. He was also renowned by members of the bar for his Rollie Fingers-style mustache. For many years, Brieant displayed in his judicial chambers a painted portrait of Judge Martin Manton, a former Chief Judge of the Second Circuit who was convicted and imprisoned for accepting bribes from litigants. When asked why he had rescued the portrait of the disgraced Manton from obscurity and given it a prominent place in his chambers, Brieant would tell visitors that the painting was a reminder of the fallibility of judges.
Brieant took senior status on May 31, 2007, serving in that capacity until his death. Judge Brieant died on July 20, 2008. The federal courthouse in White Plains, New York, where Brieant sat for the last several years of his judicial career, was thereafter renamed the Charles L. Brieant United States Courthouse in his honor.
- Benjamin Weiser, "Can He Hang? The Bad Judge and His Image", The New York Times, Jan. 28, 2009, p. A1, col. 1.
- Charles L. Brieant at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.