Jack B. Weinstein

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Jack B. Weinstein
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Assumed office
March 1, 1993
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
In office
Preceded byJacob Mishler
Succeeded byThomas Collier Platt Jr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
In office
April 15, 1967 – March 1, 1993
Appointed byLyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byLeo F. Rayfiel
Succeeded byJohn Gleeson
Personal details
Jack Bertrand Weinstein

(1921-08-10) August 10, 1921 (age 99)
Wichita, Kansas
EducationBrooklyn College (B.A.)
Columbia Law School (LL.B.)

Jack Bertrand Weinstein (born August 10, 1921) is an inactive Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Until his retirement into inactive senior status on February 10, 2020, he maintained a full docket of cases.

Early life, education and military service[edit]

Weinstein was born on August 10, 1921,[1] into a Jewish family living temporarily in Wichita, Kansas, and was raised partly in Brooklyn, New York.[2] He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. He graduated from Brooklyn College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1943.[3] During World War II he served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946. His duties included serving as deck officer on board the submarine USS Jallao, where he also ran the radar equipment.[4] He graduated from Columbia Law School with a Bachelor of Laws in 1948.[3]


After law school he worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, was a member of the litigation team for Brown v. Board of Education, and worked on the "one man, one vote" litigation of the 1960s. His colleagues included future Columbia Law colleagues such as Charles Black and Jack Greenberg. He was a law clerk for Justice Stanley Fuld of the New York State Court of Appeals, from 1949 to 1950. He also worked for Republican State Senator Seymour Halpern.[2] He was county attorney of Nassau County, New York from 1955 to 1957.

Federal judicial service[edit]

On January 16, 1967, he was nominated as a federal judge to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, to a seat vacated by Judge Leo F. Rayfiel. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 14, 1967, and received his commission on April 15, 1967. He served as Chief Judge from 1980 to 1988. As a federal judge, he has worked with a number of mass tort cases including cases relating to Agent Orange, asbestos, tobacco, breast implants, diethylstilbestrol, Zyprexa, and handguns. He has been known to take on large numbers of cases from other judges, and on one occasion collected most of the unresolved habeas corpus petitions in the Eastern District to bring finality to the claims of many prisoners.[5] Weinstein took senior status on March 1, 1993, but had maintained a full docket of cases since then and continued to do so until he retired into inactive senior status on February 10, 2020. His change to inactive senior status means that while he remains a federal judge, he no longer hears cases or participates in the business of the court.[6]

Academic service[edit]

Weinstein was also a professor at Columbia Law School from 1952 to 1998, continuing to hold his job as a federal judge. Since 1987 he has been an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School. Weinstein's former law clerks include a number of judges and law professors, including Judge Denise Cote of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Dean Joan Wexler of Brooklyn Law School, Professor Anita Bernstein of Brooklyn Law School, Professor Marty Lederman of Georgetown University Law Center, Professor Elizabeth Nowicki of Tulane Law School, Professor John C.P. Goldberg of Harvard Law School, Professors Samuel Buell and Jonathan B. Wiener of Duke University School of Law, Professor Michael J. Perry of Emory University School of Law and Professor Adam S. Zimmerman of Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.


The Second Circuit Appeals court reversed Weinstein's ruling in favor of the City of New York (Mayor Michael Bloomberg) against a group of gun manufacturers. The Second Circuit found the suit to be barred under Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). From the decision of April 30, 2008; "We conclude that the City's claim, predicated on New York Penal Law § 240.45, does not fall within an exception to the claim restricting provisions of the Act because that statute does not fall within the contours of the Act's predicate exception. We also hold that the PLCAA is a valid exercise of the powers granted to Congress pursuant to the Commerce Clause and that the PLCAA does not violate the doctrine of separation of powers or otherwise offend the Constitution in any manner alleged by the City." ([1]):

Weinstein presided over a controversial wiki case in 2006-2007 (EFF article):

At today's hearing, federal district Judge Jack B. Weinstein refused to change his order blocking publication of material that would "facilitate dissemination" of the Lilly documents. A further hearing on the issue is set for Tuesday, January 16.
Fred von Lohmann files a preliminary motion to lift, or at least clarify, the injunction against this wiki. The Honorable Judge Weinstein will not consider changing the language of the order until the hearing scheduled for 16 January.

Eli Lilly moved to censor the links to the documents one journalist posted on the free wiki site.

According to a New York Times article published on December 17, 2006,[7] Eli Lilly has engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa, its best-selling medication for schizophrenia, according to hundreds of internal Lilly documents and e-mail messages among top company managers. Eli Lilly got a temporary restraining order from a US District Court signed on January 4, 2007 to stop the dissemination or downloading of Eli Lilly documents about Zyprexa, and this allowed them to get a few US-based websites to remove them; on January 8, 2007, Weinstein refused the Electronic Frontier Foundation's motion to stay his order.[8] The documents can now only be downloaded from public Internet sites outside the US.[9] These health risks include an increased risk for diabetes through Zyprexa's links to obesity and its tendency to raise blood sugar. Zyprexa is Lilly's top-selling drug, with sales of $4.2 billion last year.[citation needed][when?]

In March 2005, Weinstein dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against producers of chemicals defoliants/herbicides,[10] denying millions to those poisoned by the rainbow defoliants, on the ground that use of the herbicide in warfare had been legal under the international law of the time. According to a May 2010 New York Times article, Weinstein entered the national debate regarding child pornography laws by issuing a "series of rulings that directly attack the mandatory five-year prison sentence faced by defendants charged with receiving child pornography."[11]

In August 2017, Weinstein amended his rule sheet to encourage junior female lawyers to take a speaking role in his courtroom.[12] In October 2017, Weinstein threatened to hold a dedicated hearing on police perjury after allowing allegations to go to trial that police officers had falsely arrested a cashier simply to claim overtime.[13] In December 2017, Weinstein sentenced three gang members to up to eight years in prison for robbing at gunpoint a family and their five young children inside their home. In his statement of reasons for the sentence, however, Weinstein criticized mandatory sentencing for unjustly punishing the perpetrators as "society's unredeemables".[14] On June 11, 2018, Weinstein explicitly criticized recent Supreme Court precedent when he refused to grant qualified immunity to police officers who had allegedly beat a resident when he tried to stop them from entering his home without a warrant.[15]


Weinstein has been criticized for being sympathetic towards plaintiffs in litigation against the tobacco and firearm industries.[16] An investigation by the New York Sun found that big lawsuits with billions of dollars at stake tend to get assigned to Weinstein.[17] According to the newspaper, some plaintiffs, particularly in tobacco and firearms cases state at filing time that their cases are related to other cases that are or have been before Weinstein. This results in their cases being assigned to him as well. Weinstein has been criticized for this practice by other judges including Judge George Pratt and Judge José Cabranes of the 2nd Circuit.[17] Defense attorneys for the firearm and tobacco industries have alleged judge shopping and have long tried to get their cases reassigned away from Judge Weinstein's courtroom, with mixed results.

The Second Amendment Foundation, a gun rights organization has called upon Weinstein to step down from the bench or step aside from hearing any further gun industry lawsuit cases, arguing that the judge has become known more for activism than judicial neutrality.[18]

In June 2008, in the case of Adventure Outdoors, a Georgia gun dealer sued by the City of New York, Weinstein was accused of having "already made up his mind about the case, making any trial 'a mere formality.'" Weinstein had decided to seat an advisory jury, which caused the gun dealer to withdraw from the trial in order to move more quickly to an appellate court.[19] The Second Amendment Foundation echoed concerns that the dealer could not get a fair trial before Judge Weinstein and called for Weinstein to recuse himself from firearms industry cases.[20]


Weinstein's publications include leading treatises on evidence and New York practice. He has also written a number of law review articles (not included below) and several books.

Individual Justice in Mass Tort Litigation: The Effect of Class Actions, Consolidations, and Other Multiparty Devices (1995)[21]

Mass Torts:Cases and Materials (with Kenneth Feinberg) (1992)[22]

Chapter VIII - Rulemaking by the Courts: The Judicial Administration Division Handbook, A.B.A. (6th ed., 1981)

Reform of the Court Rulemaking Procedures, The Institute of Comparative Law in Japan (Japanese ed., 1981)

Reform of the Federal Rulemaking Process (Ohio State Univ. Press, 1977)

Basic Problems of State and Federal Evidence (by Edward R. Morgan), 5th ed. Weinstein Rev., (1976)

Weinstein's Evidence (with Prof. Margaret Berger), 7 Volumes, 1975–1979, With Annual Supplements, One Volume, 1987, With Annual Supplements

Cases and Materials on Evidence (with Morgan and Maguire) 1957, (with Maguire, Chadbourn & Mansfield, 1964, 1970, 1973) (with Mansfeld, Berger & Abrams, 1981, 1988)

Rules and Statute Supplement (with Mansfield, Abrams & Berger, 1981, 1982, 1987)

Elements of Civil Procedure (with Rosenberg, 1962) (with Rosenberg & Smith, 1970) (1982 Supplement 3d ed. (with Rosenberg, Smith & Korn))

New York Civil Procedure (with Korn & Miller) 7 Volumes (1976)

Manual of New York Civil Procedure (with Korn & Miller) (1967)

Essays on the New York Constitution (1966)

A New York Constitution Meeting Today's Needs and Tomorrow's Challenges, March (1967)

Various New York Practice Annual Publications (Editor) (1960)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Weinstein, Jack Bertrand".
  2. ^ a b "Jack B. Weinstein: Judicial Entrepreneur".
  3. ^ a b Judges of the United States. 1983.
  4. ^ "WWII Profile: Jack B. Weinstein," United States Courts, June 16, 2014.
  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-08-07. Retrieved 2008-06-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Goldberg, Noah. "After legendary 53-year career, Brooklyn Federal Judge Jack Weinstein hangs up his robe at age 98". nydailynews.com.
  7. ^ Berenson, Alex (2006-12-17). "Eli Lilly Said to Play Down Risk of Top Pill". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Press Releases: January, 2007 | Electronic Frontier Foundation". Archived from the original on October 12, 2008.
  9. ^ "ZyprexaKills: Download the documents and memos". Archived from the original on 2007-01-24. Retrieved 2007-01-13.
  10. ^ Crook, John R. (2005). "U.S. District Court Dismisses Agent Orange Litigation, Finding International Law as of 1975 Did Not Bar Military Use of Herbicides". American Journal of International Law. 99 (3): 710–712. doi:10.2307/1602315. JSTOR 1602315.
  11. ^ Sulzberger, A.G. (May 21, 2010). "Judge Weinstein Takes On Child Pornography Laws". New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  12. ^ Feuer, Alan (23 August 2017). "A Judge Wants a Bigger Role for Female Lawyers. So He Made a Rule". The New York Times. p. A16. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  13. ^ Goldstein, Joseph (17 October 2017). "Brooklyn Judge Seeks to Examine Prevalence of Police Lying". The New York Times. p. A23. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  14. ^ Feuer, Alan (8 December 2017). "This Judge Defends 'Unredeemables' Even as He Sends Them to Prison". The New York Times. p. A20. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  15. ^ Feuer, Alan (14 June 2018). "The 96-Year-Old Brooklyn Judge Standing Up to the Supreme Court". The New York Times. p. A18. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  16. ^ "Lucky?". New York Sun. 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2007-12-04.
  17. ^ a b Goldstein, Joseph (2007-12-03). "Judge Lands at Center of a New York Legal Mystery". New York Sun. Retrieved 2007-12-04.
  18. ^ "SAF calls on Judge Weinstein to step down". Second Amendment Foundation. 2007-12-04. Archived from the original on 2007-12-08. Retrieved 2007-12-04. And now the New York Sun is paying considerable attention to the way cases have been steered to Judge Weinstein," Gottlieb stated. "There is enough doubt about his impartiality that we believe it is time for him to retire his gavel, or at the very least, step aside from hearing any further gun industry lawsuit cases. In my opinion, no case involving the firearms industry or gun rights can get a fair hearing in his courtroom.
  19. ^ Feuer, Alan (2008-06-03). "Bloomberg Claims Victory as Georgia Gun Dealer Withdraws From Trial". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-03.
  20. ^ "GA gun dealer made right move in quest for fair trial, says SAF". Second Amendment Foundation. 2008-06-03. Archived from the original on 2008-06-09. Retrieved 2008-06-03. SAF founder Alan Gottlieb concurred with Wallace's attorney, John Renzulli, that "There was no chance for a fair trial here." ... With a bias like that, Judge Weinstein should recuse himself from hearing cases related to the firearms industry
  21. ^ Weinstein, Jack B. (1995). Individual justice in mass tort litigation : the effect of class actions, consolidations, and other multiparty devices. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern Univ. Press. ISBN 0-8101-1188-8. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  22. ^ Jack B. Weinstein (1993). Mass Tort Litigation: Cases And Materials. Retrieved 18 September 2017.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Leo F. Rayfiel
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Succeeded by
John Gleeson
Preceded by
Jacob Mishler
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Succeeded by
Thomas Collier Platt Jr.