Photo Courtesy of DA Brown’s Office
In October 2018, Brown posed with the 25 new assistant district attorneys that he appointed.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Richard Brown, the borough’s longest-serving district attorney, announced on Wednesday that, “after careful thought and consideration,” he will finish out his current term and not seek re-election.
“It has been an honor and privilege to have served the people of Queens County – the most ethnically diverse county in the world – for these many years as district attorney. I am deeply appreciative and humbled to have had the trust and confidence that they have expressed by electing me to seven full terms in office,” the man affectionately known as “Judge Brown” wrote in a lengthy statement.
Born in Brooklyn in 1932, but raised in Queens, Brown received a bachelor’s degree from Hobart College in Upstate NY and graduated from New York University School of Law. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in October 1956.
Early in his career, Brown worked in legal positions for the New York State Senate Assembly Leadership and at the 1967 New York State Constitutional Convention. He also served as Gotham Mayor John Lindsay’s legislative representative in Albany from 1970 to 1973.
Appointed as a judge of the Criminal Court bench in September 1973, he served two years before becoming the Supervising Judge of the Brooklyn Criminal Court, assuming full operational and administrative responsibility for that court. Brown was designated an acting Supreme Court Justice in January 1976, and was elected the following year to a full term on the Queens County Supreme Court.
While on the Brooklyn bench in 1977, Brown presided over the arraignment of the “Son of Sam,” David Berkowitz.
After DA John Santucci abruptly retired, Brown was appointed interim Queens district attorney by former Gov. Mario Cuomo on June 1, 1991. He was elected to a full term in November 1991, and was re-elected in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. Brown ran unopposed in six of his seven campaigns.
Brown noted on Wednesday that from the day he was appointed, “one of my chief goals was to elevate the standards of professionalism in the office by hiring people on merit, not political connections. Without question, we have overwhelmingly achieved that goal. Whatever success I have attained over the years is due in large measure to the fact that from the very beginning I have surrounded myself with the most talented, capable and dedicated professionals imaginable – men and women of exceptional ability and commitment. Because of them, our office is among the best prosecutors’ offices in the state – indeed, the best in the country. I thank each of them for their loyalty and service to me and more importantly for their loyalty to the rule of law and service to the people of Queens County. Together with our law enforcement partners we have contributed greatly to the city’s historic reduction in serious crime and created safer neighborhoods for all our residents.”
Brown indicated that he’ll dedicate the final 12 months of a career in public service that has spanned nearly six decades to The World’s Borough’s 2.4 million residents.
“While it is difficult to say goodbye, I am comforted by the knowledge that I leave a legacy of accomplishment, excellence and government at its best, for which anyone can be proud,” he added. “On behalf of my entire family, I offer my best wishes and warmest thanks.”