Hon. Arthur Spatt ’49, Legendary Federal Judge, Dies at 94


Hon. Arthur D. Spatt ’49, Senior District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York, died June 12, 2020 at age 94, leaving a lasting mark on the legal community.

Spatt was known for his extraordinary work ethic, presiding in his chambers six days a week even after gaining senior status at the court in 2004. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, Spatt maintained a full case load while working from his home in Commack, N.Y.

“Beyond having a first-rate legal mind, Judge Spatt may be the most tireless and diligent worker Brooklyn Law School has ever produced,” said Dean Michael T. Cahill. “Not a single day of his long and admirable life was spent idly or in vain. He fully embodied the professionalism we hope to instill in all of our graduates.”

Spatt was born in Brooklyn. He joined the U.S. Navy at age 17, serving as a navigation petty officer in the Pacific during World War II. Upon his return, he used the GI Bill to attend Ohio State University and then Brooklyn Law School.

He spent the next 25 years in private practice before entering the New York State judiciary. After serving in various roles in the state and Nassau County justice systems, he was appointed to the federal bench in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush.

Spatt’s chambers were regularly staffed by students from the Law School, who he brought on as interns and clerks. In 1991, the Law School honored him as one of its Alumni of the Year.

In December, the atrium of Central Islip’s federal courthouse was dedicated in Spatt’s honor to commemorate his 40 years of service as a federal judge.

During his lifetime of service, Spatt was “uninhibited by ego,” according to Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in an email to his staff. “[He] would describe himself as ‘just a lucky kid from Brooklyn.’”

Spatt is predeceased by his wife Dorothy, and is survived by five daughters, 10 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Read the obituary at Law.com