Korman, Edward R.

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KORMAN, EDWARD R. (1942– ), U.S. District Court judge. Born in New York City, Korman received a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College in 1963, an LL.B. degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1966, and an LL.M. from New York University in 1971. He served as law clerk to Judge Kenneth B. Keating of the New York Court of Appeals from 1966 to 1968 and was an associate in the firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison from 1968 to 1970. Korman served as assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York from 1970 to 1972 and as assistant to the solicitor general of the United States from 1972 to 1974. He returned to the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District, serving as chief assistant U.S. attorney from 1974 to 1978 and as U.S. attorney from 1978 to 1982. He joined the law firm of Stroock and Stroock and Lavan as partner from 1982 to 1984 and as counsel from 1984 to 1985.

A professor of law at Brooklyn Law School from 1984 to 1985, Korman also served as a member of the Temporary Commission of Investigation of the State of New York and was chairman of the Mayor's Committee on New York City Marshals from 1983 to 1985. In 1985 he was appointed U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York.

Judge Korman authored several significant opinions. In 1989 he ordered the extradition of a member of the Abu Nidal organization to Israel to stand trial for a terrorist attack on a bus traveling between the West Bank and Tel Aviv, rejecting the argument that "any atrocity, if politically motivated," falls under the political offense exception to extradition. He ruled in 1996 that the New York State Republican Party's presidential primary election ballot access rules imposed an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, ordering that the party put Steve Forbes and other candidates on the primary presidential ballot statewide.

Perhaps the most noteworthy case to come before him was the class-action lawsuit on behalf of more than half a million plaintiffs against Swiss banks. The suit was filed by Holocaust victims who had deposited money in Swiss banks but were unable to claim it after the war. The plaintiffs claimed that, among other obstacles, some bankers demanded the death certificates of people who had been killed in Nazi concentration camps – obviously impossible to obtain. Korman approved a $1.25 billion settlement between the banks and the plaintiffs in 2000, and later approved a distribution plan for the settlement. Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, praised Korman's ruling as a "belated victory" that achieved a measure of justice "for the victims of the greatest crime of the century." Though the distribution plan, which placed emphasis on compensating needy Holocaust victims in the former Soviet Union, was challenged, Judge Jose Cabranes of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Korman's decision, stating that Korman approached every step of the litigation with "thoughtful analysis and scrupulous fairness."

[Dorothy Bauhoff (2nd ed.)]