A Long Island-based federal judge was struck and killed Friday morning on a Florida sidewalk by a hit-and-run driver — a woman who police say was carrying drugs and acting erratically and who has been arrested on charges including vehicular homicide.
Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein, who was assigned to the federal courthouse in Central Islip and lived in Suffolk County, was walking along Ocean Boulevard in Boca Raton when she was struck, according to Eugene Corcoran, the executive of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, which covers Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens.
After striking and killing Feuerstein around 10 a.m., the driver, Nastasia Andranie Snape, 23, struck a 6-year-old boy crossing the boulevard, then drove away and crashed in Delray Beach, according to a probable-cause affidavit in court records. The boy survived, according to Officer Jessica Desir, a Boca Raton police spokeswoman.
Later, after police arrived, the document says, Snape began screaming and fighting with medics, saying that she is "Harry Potter"; she was given an anesthetic to calm her. In her possession were containers labeled "THC Cannabis" and "T" salts, which the document says causes "erratic excited delirium."
Snape is charged with vehicular homicide and committing a hit-and-run involving death, the document says. She is represented by a public defender, according to court records, which does not list an attorney.
At the time of her death, Feuerstein was one of five judges assigned to Central Islip, with the other 23 assigned to the Eastern District's courthouse in Brooklyn, Corcoran said.
She had taken senior judge status, which creates a vacancy on the court but allows a judge to carry a reduced caseload if she chooses to do so. That vacancy was filled in 2019 by Gary Brown, who was nominated by then-President Donald Trump.
"Judge Feuerstein was a treasured member of our Eastern District Bench. Her eccentric style and warm personality lit up the courtroom. She will be missed by her colleagues and litigants alike," a news release from Corcoran said.
Recently, Feuerstein was the judge in the case of Valerie Cincinelli, an NYPD officer accused of plotting to kill her estranged husband and her boyfriend's teenage daughter. She had handled hundreds of other cases — rejecting an animal-rights group's lawsuit challenging the Fire Island National Seashore's plan for hunters to cull the barrier island's population of white-tailed deer; denying bail to an alleged Gambino crime family associate; and presiding in litigation over the dumping of tons of hazardous waste material into an Islip park.
When her decisions were appealed, Feuerstein was affirmed 76% of the time, overturned 8% of the time, with a mixed result 7% and some other outcome 9%, according to the Westlaw database. Fewer than 9% of appeals result in reversal of lower courts, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts website.
Feuerstein was born in 1946 and nominated to the bench in 2003 by then-President George W. Bush, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate 92-0. She had taught for five years in the New York City public schools, and she served as a Nassau County District Court judge beginning in 1987 and justice of the state trial and appellate courts after that, according to the news release from Corcoran. She was a 1979 graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, in its first graduating class, the release said.
Upon becoming a state trial court judge in 1994, Feuerstein was sworn in by her mother, Annette Elstein, an immigration court judge in New York. Corcoran's release said the two are believed to be America's first mother-daughter judges.
"Our Office extends condolences and prayers to the Eastern District of New York Court community and the family of U.S. District Court Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein. As we mourn her tragic death, we also remember Judge Feuerstein’s unwavering commitment to justice and service to the people of our district and our nation," stated Mark J. Lesko, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Joshua Glick, who clerked for Feuerstein from 2006 to 2007, described a jurist who, although having "the title of ‘Judge’ she did not have the ego that could easily accompany the title."
"She viewed a judge’s role as interpreting and not creating law. She was focused on writing clear and concise opinions that were easily understood," he wrote in an email. "She was occasionally tough on litigants who she felt were not being fully candid with her, but she was always fair."
Glick, now a lawyer for JPMorgan Chase, described how he also developed a post-clerkship friendship with Feuerstein; the two often attended Broadway shows together.
He wrote: "I always said the Judge was ‘my second Jewish mother.’ "
With Robert E. Kessler