Former state Supreme Court Justice Lawrence J. Bracken, who as an appeals court judge played a key role in the 1983 Baby Jane Doe parental-rights case, has died.
Bracken, a longtime resident of Setauket and East Setauket, died Wednesday from complications of Parkinson’s disease at the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook, where he lived. He was 84.
Bracken served on the state Supreme Court from 1973 to 1981, when he was appointed to the Second Appellate Division in Brooklyn. He served on that court until 2001, when he stepped down at the mandatory state retirement age of 70.
In October 1983, Bracken temporarily blocked a lower court decision that had ordered surgery for a 10-day-old Long Island girl born with spina bifida, identified in court papers as Baby Jane Doe. The girl’s parents had opposed the surgery.
The full appellate court later ruled in the parents’ favor, and the surgery was not performed.
In a statement, Suffolk County Bar Association president Donna England called Bracken “a gifted and erudite justice” who served on the group’s Professional Ethics Committee.
Bracken had been a Suffolk County assistant district attorney in the 1960s and also worked in private practice with his late brother, Edward P. Bracken Jr.
Lawrence Bracken also was a volunteer firefighter and former Setauket Fire District commissioner. Bracken and his wife, Mary, who survives him, were married for 59 years.
Bracken’s daughter, Mary E. Hill of Pembroke, Massachusetts, said he took the family on history-oriented trips to Williamsburg, Virginia, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He also enjoyed bodysurfing at Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton Beach and taught his children to care for the underprivileged, she said.
“He was my first and best teacher,” Hill said. “He always taught us that no matter who you are in life, you should be treated with respect, and that’s the way he treated everybody.”
In addition to his wife and daughter, Mary E. Hill, Bracken is survived by three other daughters, Clare F. Boothe of Duluth, Georgia, Anne M. DeNicola of St. James, and Patricia E. Ostuni of Northport; three sons, Lawrence J. Bracken II of Alpharetta, Georgia, Christopher P. Bracken of Denver, and Michael LeStrange of Burlington, Vermont; a brother, Donald Bracken, of Southold; a sister, Patricia Kilton of Stratford, Connecticut; 15 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Visiting hours are 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at Bryant Funeral Home in East Setauket. A funeral Mass will be said at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday at St. James Roman Catholic Church in East Setauket, followed by burial at St. James Cemetery.