During his 30-year legal career, David Zuckerman has seen the criminal courts from three vantage points. He’s been a big city prosecutor, a criminal defense attorney, and for the past four and a half years, one of New Castle’s two town justices.
In November, Zuckerman hopes his experience will help land him on the bench as a Westchester County Court judge.
Last week, the county’s Democratic Committee unanimously endorsed Zuckerman, 54, as its candidate to fill the seat formerly held by Judge Robert DiBella, who was elected last year to state Supreme Court. He has also been endorsed by the Independence Party.
Zuckerman doesn’t expect a primary challenge and is uncertain at this point whether the Republicans will run an opponent in the fall.
Of all the work that Zuckerman has done, being a judge has been the most satisfying during his distinguished career, even if it’s only been a part-time job since becoming New Castle town justice on Jan. 1, 2008.
“If you ask my clerks they’ll tell you the days that I’m on the bench they have to hold me back, I can’t wait to start,” Zuckerman said last Wednesday, the day after the Democrats announced his endorsement. “It’s a job I’ve just fallen in love with and that’s why I want to be a county judge because that’s a full-time job.”
In a statement released last week, Westchester Democratic Party Chairman Reginald Lafayette recounted Zuckerman’s qualifications that made him the choice among party leaders. In addition to serving in New Castle, Zuckerman has been called upon to be an acting justice in local courts in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, White Plains, Peekskill and Yorktown.
“I have known Judge Zuckerman since 2000. He is a man of great integrity and a superior judge,” Lafayette said.
Since he was seven years old, Zuckerman dreamed of becoming an attorney. The son of a lawyer, he went through Syosset High School, near where he grew up in Woodbury, L.I., then SUNY Binghamton expecting to pursue a legal career. After graduating from Boston University School of Law, he started as a prosecutor in the Bronx district attorney’s office in the early 1980s.
In 1986, Zuckerman opened his own law practice in the Bronx, before adding a White Plains office in 1992. He still has the Bronx location but more recently moved the Westchester office to Mount Kisco.
Zuckerman, a 24-year Chappaqua resident with his wife, Melissa, and their two children, said he chose criminal law because he didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk at a big corporate law firm. He wanted to go to court, where the action is, even though he has dabbled in representing developers and other clients.
“It’s the gravity of it as well as the human drama that gets played out,” Zuckerman said of his attraction to criminal law. “I always wanted to be a part of that.”
Prior to running for judge for the first time in 2007–he was re-elected last November–Zuckerman also served 15 years as New Castle’s town prosecutor. He said that over the years he has developed a strong desire for public service in order to give back to his community. His volunteer work includes serving as chairman of the New Castle Drug Abuse Prevention Council, as a first responder EMT with the Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corps and as a member of New Castle C.A.R.E.S.
Even if he doesn’t have an opponent in the fall, Zuckerman said he will make sure to get out and meet constituents because the public should know who their public servants are.
It’s that sense of public service that drives him to make an even bigger impact in people’s lives.
“It’s the ability to do the right thing for people,” Zuckerman said. “I don’t know why we’re here on this planet but I think that’s one of the reasons.”
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/