Frederic Block

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Frederic Block
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Assumed office
September 1, 2005
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
In office
September 29, 1994 – September 1, 2005
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by Eugene H. Nickerson
Succeeded by Brian Cogan
Personal details
Born (1934-06-06) June 6, 1934 (age 82)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Indiana University (A.B.)
Cornell Law School (LL.B.)

Frederic Block (born June 6, 1934)[1] is a Senior United States District Judge.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Block received an Artium Baccalaureus from Indiana University in 1956 and a Bachelor of Laws from Cornell Law School in 1959.[2] After law school, he was a clerk to the New York Supreme Court, appellate division, from 1959 to 1961. He was in private practice of law in Patchogue from 1961 to 1962, then in Port Jefferson, Centereach, and Smithtown, moving back and forth between these locations from 1962 to 1994. During this time, he became an adjunct professor at Touro Law School, beginning in 1992.[2] During his time in private practice, Judge Block handled both civil and criminal cases, and trial and appellate work--even arguing a case before the Supreme Court of the United States.[3]

On July 22, 1994, Block was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York vacated by Eugene H. Nickerson. Block was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 28, 1994, and received his commission the next day. He assumed senior status on September 1, 2005, and was succeeded by Judge Brian Cogan.[2]

In 2005, Block complained that working as a judge in Brooklyn rather than Manhattan was like being a denizen of Fallujah rather than the Green Zone.[4]

Notable cases[edit]

On April 15, 2004, Judge Block sentenced Gambino crime family boss Peter Gotti to 9 years and 4 months in prison for money laundering and racketeering charges.[5] Gotti had a subsequent conviction in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for plotting to murder informant and former Gambino underboss Sammy Gravano.[6]

In 2008, Judge Block ruled that the United States government could not use ethnicity as a factor in deciding to detain two Egyptian-born men on a plane. Farag v. United States, 587 F.Supp. 2d 436, 443 (E.D.N.Y 2008). The Judge stated that it was the first case post-September 11 attacks to address whether ethnicity may be used to establish criminal propensity under the Fourth Amendment.[7] Judge Block has stated that this is the matter he is most proud of.[3]

On September 30, 2015, a portion of a “seemingly never-ending dispute” over the printing of the Rebbe’s Sichos came to an end when Judge Block dismissed a major part of a lawsuit involving members of the Orthodox Jewish Chabad group. Judge Block dismissed claims of copyright infringement and unfair competition brought by Vaad L’Hafotzas Sichos and Zalman Chanin against Merkos and Agudas Chasidei Chabad.[8]

On May 24, 2016, Judge Block ordered a sentence of one year of probation (rather than the guideline 33-41 month imprisonment) for a defendant who was convicted by a jury of importation and possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. USA v. Nesbeth (E.D.N.Y. 2016). Text In a 44-page opinion, Judge Block described that the "collateral consequences" facing convicted felons are punishment enough. Judge Block's opinion and call for reform appears to be one of the most detailed examinations of collateral consequences and sentencing.[9]


On July 17, 2012, Judge Block released his first book named Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge.[10] The book was written for a behind the bench look at some of the most controversial cases in the past 20 years.[11] The book covers Judge Block's approach to sentencing such as the death penalty, racketeering, gun laws, drug laws, discrimination laws, race riots, terrorism, and restitution of looted property to victims of the Holocaust.[12]


  1. ^ "Questionnaire for judicial nominees", Confirmation hearings on federal appointments: hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session on confirmations of appointees to the federal judiciary, Part 5, US GPO, p. 773, 1995 
  2. ^ a b c "Block, Frederic". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved January 20, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Lat, David (26 March 2013). "An Afternoon with Judge Frederic Block, Author of 'Disrobed'". Above the Law. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  4. ^ Wolff, Eric. "Furor in the Court". New York (April 18, 2005). Retrieved May 21, 2015. 
  5. ^ Newman, Andy (April 16, 2004). "Gambino Crime Boss or Not, Peter Gotti Gets 9-Year Term". The New York Times. Retrieved January 20, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Mafia boss Peter Gotti sentenced to 25 years". Mail & Guardian. Agence France-Presse. July 28, 2005. Retrieved January 20, 2011. 
  7. ^ Robbins, Liz (24 November 2008). "Judge Rules That Suspects Cannot Be Detained Because of Ethnicity". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  8. ^ "Judge Dismisses Majority of Vaad's Claim Against Kehot". 1 October 2015. 
  9. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (25 May 2016). "U.S. Judge's Striking Move in Felony Drug Case: Probation, Not Prison". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  10. ^ Pierson, Brendan (July 26, 2012). "'Disrobed' offers look at life on the bench". Daily Report Online. 
  11. ^ Block, Frederic (July 12, 2012). "When Every Day Is Judgment Day". Bloomberg. 
  12. ^ Tallmer, Jerry (July 19, 2012). "Judge's book gives an insider's view of life on the bench". The Villager. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
Eugene H. Nickerson
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Succeeded by
Brian Cogan