Queens DA Richard Brown to resign on June 1 for health reasons

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, pictured in 2017, will resign on June 1 due to health reasons. Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The city’s longest-serving district attorney has been battling Parkinson’s disease.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, pictured in 2017, will resign on June 1 due to health reasons.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, pictured in 2017, will resign on June 1 due to health reasons. Photo Credit: Ivan Pereira

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the longest-serving DA in the city, announced Thursday he will resign for health reasons on June 1.

Brown, 86, had previously announced he would not seek another term, sparking a crowded field of candidates vying for his seat in the upcoming June primary.

“It had been my hope that I would be able to finish out this term in office,” Brown said in a statement. “Unfortunately, that is not to be. Given the current state of my health and my ongoing health issues, it has become increasingly difficult to fully perform the powers and duties of my office in the manner in which I have done since 1991.”

Brown, often called Judge Brown for his time on the bench, has been battling Parkinson’s disease.

He said John Ryan, his chief assistant DA, will take over the day to day duties of the office.

“I will continue to work closely with my staff until my retirement to ensure an orderly transition for this office and for the residents of Queens County,” he said. “I thank the people of Queens for their much appreciated support over the years.”

Brown pointed out his resignation takes effect on the 28th anniversary of his first day in office.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, City Councilman Rory Lancman and former state Supreme Court Judge an Assistant District Attorney Greg Lasak are some of the candidates who are running for Brown’s seat.

“Nobody receives more joy from his work than Judge Brown, so it is especially sad that his health is preventing him from continuing to do what he loves,” Lasak tweeted on Thursday.

While Brown has been well-regarded by many, others have argued changes at his office are overdue. A new grassroots coalition “Queens for DA Accountability,” protested outside the Queens Criminal Courthouse earlier this year, arguing that reforms are needed.

“The office reflects the bygone tough-on-crime era and has not kept pace with progressive reforms that have characterized the new modern era of prosecution in the United States,” the group said on its website.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, Brown graduated from NYU School of Law and worked for the State Senate and Assembly before his long career on the bench which included a stint as supervising judge of the Brooklyn Criminal Court, a Supreme Court judge in Queens and a member of the Appellate Division.

In 1977, he handled the arraignment of “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz, who had terrorized the city with a series of murders, including in Brown’s Forest Hills neighborhood.

Brown was appointed Queens district attorney by Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1991 and elected later that year. He was re-elected six times.

Lisa L. Colangelo