Judge Alan Honorof, a longtime member of Nassau County’s bench who was perhaps equally known for his love of sailing, has died, court officials said Thursday.
Honorof, 68, of Port Washington, died after a sudden illness, colleagues said.
Nassau Supervising Judge Christopher Quinn said he declared a mistrial in Honorof’s court Wednesday and dismissed jurors after his colleague was unable to come to work for three days while presiding over a criminal trial.
News of Honorof’s death shocked many of his co-workers in Nassau County Court Thursday, with several remembering him as a physically fit person who swam laps at Hofstra University every day.
State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Adams, the county’s administrative judge, said in a statement that Honorof’s legacy would be one of intelligence and compassion.
“He was a well-respected judge whose mission was to always ensure justice, fairness and equality. He treated litigants and attorneys with courtesy and respect, and was an extraordinary man who will be missed personally and professionally,” Adams added.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Howard Sturim, who worked closely with Honorof for a dozen years as his law secretary, said Thursday that his colleague was someone who always was concerned with doing the right thing when it came to handing down fair sentences.
He also recalled his friend’s love of sailing, and how he had the ability to communicate sometimes complicated legal instructions to jurors in a way that was easy for them to comprehend.
“People left understanding what he was telling them,” Sturim said.
He said Honorof was a divorced father of two grown children to whom he was devoted.
“Any time he got a call from his children, whether or not he was on the bench, he took that call,” Sturim said. “He would turn to the jury and say ‘It’s my kids.’”
Honorof was appointed to the bench as a Court of Claims judge and as an acting state Supreme Court justice.
He first became a judge in 1996 after practicing law as a solo practitioner for more than 15 years after leaving the Nassau district attorney’s office in 1979.
He worked as an assistant district attorney from 1974 to 1979 after graduating from Temple University School of Law and George Washington University, according to state records.
In 2011, a state ethics commission granted him permission to seek work as an excursion boat captain, making him the first Nassau judge to win approval to moonlight since court administration relaxed their rules on such issues months earlier.
“In my day job they call me judge, and at night they call me captain,” he told Newsday at the time.
Court administrators had decided to let more judges seek outside employment at that time since they hadn’t gotten raises since 1999.
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas issued a statement Thursday calling Honorof “a principled and fair jurist who led a life of service to his country and community,” and someone who “worked tirelessly to advance the cause of justice.”
Among court officers, Honorof was respected as a judge who ran an efficient courtroom and kept his trials moving along at a good pace, but gave jurors and employees regular breaks to take care of personal business amid a rigorous schedule of testimony.
Sturim said the proud Army veteran also kept a copy of the U.S. Constitution on the wall of his courtroom, and had a habit of referencing it.