Gustin L. Reichbach papers
Scope and Contents
This collection is comprised of the personal and professional papers of Justice Gustin L. Reichbach. The papers span from 1946 to 2014. The bulk of the records date from 1968 to 2012.
The personal papers best document Reichbach's post-secondary and postgraduate education, but include some items from Reichbach's childhood. Materials include address and appointment books, articles, clippings, correspondence, diplomas, judicial applications, photographs, speeches and transcripts. The professional papers are a product of Reichbach's career as a private attorney (1972-1990) and his career as a justice of the Civil Court of the City of New York (1991-1998), the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Kings County (1999-2012), and as an international judge for the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (2003-2004). Records include administrative material, bench books, clippings, correspondence, court transcripts, decisions and orders, election documentation and subject files.
Reichbach's lifelong interest in social change, law and activism are reflected throughout these papers. Of note are records about his involvement in the student protests at Columbia University and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1968. Details from the Columbia Law School Disciplinary Tribunal are also well documented. Materials associated with Reichbach's appearances before the Committee on Character and Fitness as part of his admittance to the New York State Bar will be of interest to researchers. His working papers, including bench books, correspondence and draft opinions provide context to the official records of published opinions and court transcripts. For example, clippings and correspondence document the controversial HIV testing and counseling program that he initiated during his brief time on the criminal night court. Correspondence from jurors provides a rare view into the experience of those who participated in trials administered by Justice Reichbach. In sum, these papers are a unique record of the life and career of a lawyer and judge and are a record of his deliberations on the judicial process.
- Majority of material found within 1970-2012
- Reichbach, Gustin L. (Lewis) (Person)
Language of Materials
Terms of Access
Gustin L. Reichbach papers, 1946-2014 are open for research.
Access to portions of the collection are restricted as follows: A portion of files in Series I. folders 14.1-14.4, 76+ are restricted until 2062; Series II. folders 19.5, 19.8-24.10, 30.1-30.7 are restricted for seventy-five years from the closure of the case; Series IV. folders 50.15, 51.1-51.2 are restricted; Series VII. folder 61.9 is restricted.
Original clippings and newspapers may not be available due to fragility. Reference copies are available for researcher use.
Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and University Archives before requesting photocopies and/or publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Once permission is obtained, most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.
Gustin Lewis Reichbach was born in Brooklyn, New York on October 9, 1946. His mother, Lee Reichbach, was a retired public school secretary. His father, Herman Reichbach, was a machinist. Justice Reichbach married Ellen Meyers on October 24, 1984. They had one child together, a daughter named Hope I. Reichbach, who was born in 1988. Hope Reichbach passed away in 2011.
Reichbach attended Junior High School 240 in Brooklyn, class of 1960, and Midwood High School, class of 1963. As an undergraduate he attended The State University of New York at Buffalo, graduating in 1967. He was president of Alpha Epsilon Pi and graduated with a B.A. in political science, magna cum laude, Phi Betta Kappa.
After traveling to Israel in the summer of 1967 he enrolled at Columbia University School of Law. Reichbach completed his J.D. in 1970. While at Columbia University he was active with the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), where he organized protests and occupations on campus in 1968. During one protest Reichbach was arrested for disorderly conduct, placed on probation, and eventually acquitted after a raucous trial on campus. His involvement with SDS and with the subsequent co-authorship of a book titled "The Bust Book: What to Do Till the Lawyer Comes" which was published in 1970, significantly delayed Reichbach's admittance to the New York State Bar Association because of interest shown in these issues by the Committee on Character and Fitness and testimonies against his character submitted by law school faculty.
Reichbach passed the New York State bar exam in 1970 but it took fourteen month before he was admitted in 1972. He was later admitted to the State Bar of California, the United States Supreme Court, and various United States District Courts including the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York. As a lawyer he specialized in landlord tenant and real estate law, criminal defense law, entertainment and publishing law and labor law.
While at Columbia University Law School, Reichbach worked as a law clerk at Lefcourt, Cohen, Garfinkel and Lefcourt. Between graduation and admittance to the bar, Reichbach continued to work with Lefcourt and the New York Law Commune; a collective of activist lawyers, where he represented the New York Black Panthers, Abbie Hoffman and anti-war demonstrators. After his admittance to the New York State Bar Reichbach established his private law practice and remained in New York until he moved to California to serve as Counsel to the California Agricultural Labor Board for two years beginning in September 1976. While in California he also maintained a private law practice.
Reichbach returned to New York in December 1976 and reestablished his practice. He won significant cases in landlord and tenant law including one that legalized residential loft life in SoHo and TriBeCa.
Reichbach was elected to The Civil Court of the City of New York in January 1991 after running against the established party. During his short tenure on the criminal night court he created a controversial HIV testing and counseling program that was made available to defendants. This program earned him the nickname "The Condom Judge" by the New York Post. Reichbach was soon transferred to civil court but his testing and counseling program was eventually restored.
Reichbach was elected to the New York State Supreme Court (Kings County) in 1998. During his tenure on the bench Reichbach presided over various capital murder trials, a significant Medicaid fraud case, and the well-publicized bench trial of FBI agent Roy Lindley DeVecchio.
Reichbach also served as an International Judge for the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (U.N.M.I.K.) and for the Kosovo Supreme Court in 2003 and 2004, respectively. During his time in Kosovo he presided over war crime trials and appeals.
Upon his return from Kosovo Reichbach resumed service on the New York State Supreme Court and remained in this capacity until his death from cancer in 2012.
In 2013 the Kings County Criminal Defense Bar named their annual judicial recognition award the Gustin L. Reichbach Judicial Recognition Award.
43.9 Linear Feet (65 manuscript boxes, 11 oversize boxes, 1 miniature box)
The papers of Justice Gustin L. Reichbach (1946-2014). Includes personal materials and professional records from his private legal practice and judicial chambers. The collection contains personal papers, correspondence, news clippings, photographs, and legal files.
The Gustin L. Reichbach papers are arranged in seven series: Personal, Private Practice, The Civil Court of the City of New York, The Supreme Court of the State of New York, United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in Kosovo, Professional Activities, Subject Files.
The Gustin L. Reichbach papers were donated to the University Archives by Gustin Reichbach's wife, Ellen Meyers, in August, 2013. Three additional folders of materials were added by Ellen Meyers in January 2016.
Additional materials were donated to the University Archives by Gustin Reichbach's wife, Ellen Meyers, December 2021 as accession #2021-025.
No further accruals are expected to this collection.
Processed by Sarah Pinard, September 2014. Finding aid encoded by Sarah Pinard, September 2014. Additional materials processed and finding aid updated by Jessica Hollister, May 2023.
- Columbia University
- Court administration -- New York (State) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Court records Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Courtroom illustrations Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- DeVecchio, Lin
- Diplomas Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Judge (government ser.) Subject Source: Dictionary Of Occupational Titles
- Judges -- New York (State) Subject Source: Local sources
- Lawyer (profess. & kin.) Subject Source: Dictionary Of Occupational Titles
- Mafia -- United States Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- New York (State). Civil Court (New York)
- New York (State). Supreme Court
- Organized Crime -- New York (State) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Plaques (flat objects) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Reichbach, Gustin L. (Lewis)
- Scrapbooks Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Student movements Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
- United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo
- Finding Aid for the Gustin L. Reichbach papers
- Finding aid prepared by Sarah Pinard
- 08 January 2014
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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- Language of description note
- May 2023: Series IV. Box 50.15 title revised to reflect contemporary language conventions for groups of individuals. For more information about what was amended, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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