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Choice Quotes from the Late Harold Baer

The Honorable Harold Baer, who passed away earlier this week, was one of the legendary judges deciding cases in federal court in Manhattan. A stalwart for civil liberties who landed in the middle of contentious political battles, he was also quick witted and plainspoken in court. Though I only appeared before him a few times, he left a lasting impression, not least by his cheeky comments placed on the public docket. Here are a few samples from our archive:

  • To a lawyer looking to correct a judgment: “The Bureau of Prisons makes these decisions. All I can do is recommend.”
  • In response to a request that a client be allowed to travel while on bail: “I don’t object either. So ordered.”
  • To a defendant asking for a reduced┬ásentence: “I’m impressed by the amount of work you did on the motion but unfortunately once the judgment is entered I lose jurisdiction.”
  • To an unresponsive lawyer: “Amongst lawyers I have dealt with your letter takes the chutzpah award hands down. Chambers has called you for a week without a response even though the trial is upon us. I called you Tuesday and Wednesday and even left you my home number (which I never do) and never heard a word. …And now you believe there is prejudice because you received a protective order I signed having no way to reach you, which provided you and your client with 3500 materials long in advance of the statutory requirement and the time to review it – unbelievable.”
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