Weinfeld, Edward

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WEINFELD, EDWARD (1901–1988), U.S. federal judge. Born in New York City and raised on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Weinfeld attended law school at night while working at various jobs. He received his LL.B. degree in 1921 and his LL.M. in 1922, both from New York University. Entering private practice in New York, he was active in the Democratic Party. In 1935, he served as chief counsel for the New York State Legislative Committee Investigating Bondholders Commission. In 1939, Governor Herbert *Lehman named Weinfeld as New York State's first housing commissioner, a post he held until 1942. He served as vice president and director of Citizens Housing and Planning Council for New York State from 1943 until 1950, when President Harry Truman appointed him as a judge in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

Weinfeld gained a reputation as a dedicated jurist whose decisions were rarely reversed. His long career saw many notable cases, including the bribery trial of James Marcus, a former New York City Water Commissioner, and the Quentin Reynolds-Westbrook Pegler libel trial. In another prominent case, he ruled that Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's Committee on Government Operations lacked the authority to investigate author Corliss Lamont. Yet Weinfeld maintained that "every case is important"; he was known for his extensive research and precisely written decisions.

A member of the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association, Weinfeld received numerous awards and honors, including the American Law Institute's Henry Friendly Medal in 1987 for outstanding contributions to the law, and New York's LaGuardia Medal in 1988. Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., of the U.S. Supreme Court, stated that "there is no better judge on any court." Weinfeld's biographer William Nelson, who holds the position of Edward Weinfeld Chair at New York University Law School, has described him as the "preeminent trial judge in twentieth-century America." Though many had hoped that Weinfeld would be named to the Supreme Court, he expressed pride in serving on the district court. At the time of his death in 1988 at age 86, he was the oldest active federal district judge in the United States.

[Dorothy Bauhoff (2nd ed.)]