Brooklyn Federal Judge Killed in Hit-and-Run

Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein was sworn in by her mother, making them the first mother-daughter pair of judges in the United States.

Judge Annette Elstein of the Immigration Court in New York congratulates her daughter, Sandra J. Feuerstein, after swearing her in as Justice of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division. (Image courtesy of the Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, Columbia Law School, and Committee of the Historical Records of the New York County Clerk Inc.)

BROOKLYN (CN) — A woman calling herself Harry Potter has been arrested for a hit-and-run that killed a Brooklyn federal judge walking on the sidewalk in Boca Raton, Florida. 

U.S. District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein, 75, was nominated by President George W. Bush. She had been on the bench in the Eastern District of New York since 2003. Her family says she served as a strong female role model, and was a dedicated mom and legal professional, working to strike a balance between work and home life. 

Feuerstein’s mother, Judge Annette Elstein, was a federal immigration judge based on Long Island, who died last year. 

It was Elstein who swore Feuerstein’s in back in 1994, Newsday reported. The two are believed to be the first pair of mother-daughter judges in the United States. 

“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,” Mark J. Lesko, acting U.S. attorney for the district court where Feuerstein served, said in a statement. 

“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.” 

Before being appointed to the federal bench, Judge Feuerstein served in Nassau County state court. She was the first woman from the 10th Judicial District to serve in the state’s Appellate Division. 

Feuerstein earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont in 1966, then worked for five years as a New York City elementary school teacher. She took a break from work to raise her two sons, Adam and Seth, losing her teacher tenure in the process.

U.S. District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein of New York’s Eastern District. (Image courtesy of Cardozo School of Law via Courthouse News)

When she was ready to return to her career, Feuerstein chose a new path, graduating from Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 1979. 

“She turned that into an opportunity to go to law school and had a successful legal career culminating in her appointment and confirmation as a federal judge, where she continued to serve as a public role model for women,” Adam Feuerstein wrote in an email to Newsday, on behalf of himself and his brother.

The brothers said their mother was able to find the “mythical balance between work and family,” and Adam recalled a feeling of pride when friends would tell him how his mother was a role model and an inspiration. 

Feuerstein was pronounced dead at Delray Medical Center following Friday’s collision; a 6-year-old boy was seriously injured in the crash as well. 

Local authorities confirmed that Nastasia Snape, 23, was arrested after a second crash in Delray Beach. 

A police report says Snape was disoriented and aggressive, claiming she was Harry Potter. Police officers say they found bottles labeled “THC cannabis” and a synthetic drug called “T salts,” which can cause erratic, delirium-like behavior, the report says.

Police are testing blood samples to determine whether she was intoxicated at the time of the crash. Snape was charged with negligent vehicular manslaughter and two counts of hit-and-run, the Washington Post reported, and was brought to a nearby hospital for treatment following the collisions. 

Snape is being held on a $20,000 bond for each charge against her.

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