Judge Raymond Harrington forged a no-nonsense reputation for ensuring that justice was served during a career that spanned nearly 40 years, including two decades as a Nassau County Criminal Court justice.
Harrington lived in East Rockaway, and when he wasn’t presiding over cases, he could often be found on the water pursuing a lifelong passion for sailing.
Harrington died of cardiopulmonary arrest on March 6 at Good Shepherd Hospice in Rockville Centre, his family said. He was 92.
“He loved the law. He loved being a judge,” said his daughter, Nassau County Judge Patricia Harrington, 67, of Westbury. “He read everything about it and he appreciated all the nuances in it. I think he believed that he was doing good.”
One of Harrington’s most famous rulings involved a 1982 Memorial Day weekend crime spree. Five men from Brooklyn pleaded guilty to a 817-count indictment charging them with several attempted murders, the robbery of more than 120 persons at two diners and a private home, and numerous assaults and rapes.
According to a Newsday report of the sentencing, Harrington called the crime "the most obscene in Nassau history" and sentenced each of the five men to either 3,797 or 4,054 years in prison. However, because of a state law that put a cap on years served in prison, Harrington told courtroom spectators and protesters that the men would be eligible for parole in 15 years and serve no more than 30 years. Patricia Harrington said her father “advocated for a greater sentencing structure after that case.”
Harrington was born on June 16, 1927, and grew up in Queens. He joined the Army in 1944, serving in Northern Italy. It was in Italy that Harrington’s love of sailing began.
“He became friendly with someone who had a sailboat and on his days off from his Army duties, the guy would let him borrow his sailboat and he’d go out on the lake, or whatever it was, sailing,” said son Raymond Harrington, 62, of Castleton, Vermont.
After his service, Harrington attended Adelphi College, received a bachelor of law degree from St. John’s University in 1950 and a master of law degree from New York University in 1961.
A partner at Shrank and Harrington, a general law practice, from 1953 to 1968, Harrington also served as associate general counsel to the New York State Labor Relations Board and director of labor relations for the Town of Hempstead. In 1968, he was nominated to run for a district court judgeship. Harrington won the seat and was placed on the bench in January 1969.
Two years later, he was appointed to Family Court by Nelson Rockefeller and, in 1974, was appointed to Nassau County Criminal Court, where Harrington served until his retirement in 1994.
“He was a true county court judge,” said Jerald S. Carter, 68, of Hempstead, a former senior judge of the county court. “He liked the day in and day out interaction with the attorneys and the litigates.” Carter, who was one of the defense attorneys in the 1982 diner case, added that Harrington was “a fair judge” with “a very strict code of principles.”
Harrington met his wife, Ann, while sailing from the Hewlett Point Yacht Club. The couple married in 1951.
“My mother was skippering her own boat in a race and he was skippering his,” Patricia said. “He called up to find out if she was the skipper of this particular boat, and they had their first date and that was that.”
Harrington was also an avid skier and an active parishioner of St. Raymond’s in East Rockaway.
Harrington is also survived by his wife, of East Rockaway; sons Brian, of West Rutland, Vermont, and Kevin, of East Rockaway. The funeral was held on March 14 and interment was at Holy Rood Cemetery, Westbury.