Andrew Denney, New York Law Journal
May 4, 2016
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack, who attracted attention during his tenure for taking a hard line against banks seeking to evict New Yorkers from their homes through foreclosure, died on Monday after a lengthy battle with anemia. He was 71.
Schack was born and raised in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. He obtained a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College in 1966 and a master's degree from Indiana University in 1968.
For more than a decade after obtaining his master's, Schack worked as a high school social studies teacher in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn and was active with the United Federation of Teachers during that time.
In 1980, Schack obtained his J.D. from New York Law School and left teaching. From 1983 to 1998, he served as a member of Community Board 10. He was also active in Democratic politics.
"Artie was kind of a Renaissance man," said Joseph Bova, Democratic district leader for the 49th Assembly District and a member of the Stars and Stripes Democratic Club, of which Schack was a member before he became a judge.
An avid baseball fan, Schack worked as counsel to the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1982 to 1998. He was elected to the Brooklyn Civil Court in 1998 and to the Supreme Court in 2003.
Justice Lawrence Knipel, the administrative judge for civil matters in Brooklyn Supreme Court, said in an interview that, as a jurist, Schack could be relied upon to handle difficult cases.
"He never said no to an assignment and he was known for taking on some of the toughest cases," Knipel said.
Additionally, Knipel said, Schack was known for penning colorful opinions that "grabbed readers' attention" with alliteration or allusions to Shakespeare.
Schack made national news for his tough stance against banks and lenders in foreclosure proceedings, rejecting petitions with shoddy or incomplete paperwork. In 2011, he issued a ruling ordering HSBC Bank executive to appear for a sanctions hearing.
"He wasn't afraid to take a principled stand on anything," Knipel said, noting that some Schack's decisions in foreclosure cases were later reversed by the Appellate Division, Second Department.
Arthur Aidala, president of the Brooklyn Bar Association and a partner at Aidala Bertuna & Kamins who was a longtime friend of Schack's, said that Schack's decisions could be controversial, but that the judge was more concerned with doing what he felt was right rather than what he thought would be popular when weighing in on an issue.
"A practitioner like myself had the utmost respect for a judge who does what he or she thinks is right," Aidala said.
Schack is survived by his wife Dilia; his daughter Elaine, who is a court attorney in Brooklyn; and his son, Douglas.
A visitation will be held Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at Shermans Flatbush Memorial Chapel, 1283 Coney Island Ave., and a funeral will be held at noon.
Thereafter, interment will take place at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
The family will be sitting Shiva at 8903 Ridge Blvd., from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday; from 1 to 8 p.m. on Thursday; and from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday.