News Release

In DISROBED: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge, Judge Frederic Block provides a rare and revealing look at the career, cases and wisdom of a federal court judge

Washington, DC (July 17, 2012) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ NACDL Press and Thomson Reuters Westlaw today announce the release of the first book of their joint publishing venture. Providing a view into the private world of a sitting judge on one of the nation’s most influential benches, and in one of the world's most famous cities, a new book by Judge Frederic Block gives a personal account of his experiences with controversial legal topics such as the death penalty, racketeering, terrorism, discrimination and foreign affairs. In DISROBED: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge (July 17, 2012; Thomson Reuters Westlaw and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; $29.95), Judge Block illuminates this sometimes mysterious branch of government, sharing a behind-the-scenes look into his life and some of the trials of a federal court judge.

The federal bench is presided over by men and women who adhere to the traditional standard of judicial lock-jaw where nearly all of the communication outside of their courtroom is through formal written opinions and scholarly journals. Judge Block breaks that mold by taking readers on his own personal journey to the bench, a journey riddled with political potholes, and bares some of the most intimate details surrounding several landmark cases of our time.

DISROBED is an autobiographical account that begins miles from the federal bench with a small-town attorney in Suffolk County making headlines extending the "one man, one vote" policy. Early in his career, Judge Block served as defense counsel on a key manslaughter appeal case that resulted in the establishment of the Clayton Hearings, where a defendant can be acquitted of criminal charges based upon the "interests of justice" – a doctrine that remains an integral part of the New York criminal justice system to this day.

Appointed to the federal bench in 1994 by President Bill Clinton, Judge Block provides commentary throughout DISROBED on some of the most prominent and sensational cases that he has presided over during his nearly 20 years as a federal judge, including the Crown Heights Riots and the trials of mafia boss Peter Gotti and nightclub magnate Peter Gatien.

DISROBED takes you into the courtroom and chambers of a federal judge, offering a rare and real look at some of the least-talked-about aspects of the bench, including the difficulties of sentencing and the mental toll it takes knowing you have the power to drastically alter someone's life and liberty. The prevalence of death threats and the risks that judges and their families have to face to serve and uphold the justice system also is discussed.

Praise for DISROBED 

    • “Judge Block gives the reader an engaging, often humorous account of his life, as always, and a compelling introduction to the world of a federal judge whose decisions are subject to plenty of public scrutiny but whose decision-making process remains a mystery for most Americans.” – President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd president of the United States 
    • “A pleasure cruise, first class all the way, with a superb navigator. Judge Block tells a story the public needs to read and appreciate about its great justice system. And he tells it simply and compellingly as he lived it, with facts, figures and even more, with extraordinary humor and humanity.” – Judith S. Kaye, former chief judge of the state of New York 
    • DISROBED is a lot like its author: honest, smart, interesting, provocative and deeply humane. It is not often we are permitted into the private world of the robed men and women who have the awesome responsibility of judging others.” – Ben Brafman, criminal defense attorney, New York 
    • DISROBED is a fascinating look at the real world of federal judges – and a revealing story about how the law works, and doesn’t, in America.” – Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Oath: The Obama White House vs. the Supreme Court 

The book is available for purchase here.

A link to NACDL’s July 16, 2012, podcast featuring Judge Frederic Block is available here.

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About the Author 

Judge Frederic Block was appointed United States district judge for the Eastern District of New York by President Bill Clinton on September 29, 1994, and entered duty on October 31, 1994. He assumed senior status on September 1, 2005. He received a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in 1956, and an LL.B. degree from Cornell Law School in 1959. During his 17-year tenure on the bench, Judge Block has presided over a number of high-profile criminal trials, including, most recently, a securities fraud prosecution against former Bears Stearns hedge fund managers Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin. He also oversaw the trials of Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, Peter Gotti, Lemrick Nelson and nightclub magnate Peter Gatien. 

Contact: James Bergmann, Marketing Director, (202) 465-7629 or 

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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.