Nassau County Supreme Court Justice and longtime Long Beach resident Joel Asarch, who spent 12 years overseeing guardianship cases and advocating for those who could not help themselves, died on March 3 of a heart attack. He was 60.
Asarch became a District Court judge in 2001 and was appointed an acting Supreme Court judge in 2004, handling Article 81 guardianship cases focusing on those who were deemed incapacitated.
“My desire is to continue helping people who, through incapacity, can no longer manage their property or personal needs,” Asarch said in a 2006 campaign biography, “applying to each situation what I have learned as judge, court examiner and teacher.”
Asarch, a Democrat, was elected a Supreme Court judge in the county’s 10th Judicial District in 2007, with a term that was set to expire in seven years.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Judge Asarch,” Nassau County Administrative Judge Thomas A. Adams said in a statement. “His extraordinary accomplishments, fairness and integrity have left an indelible mark on the Nassau County courts. We offer our deepest condolences to his family.”
Hundreds turned out for Asarch’s funeral at Gutterman’s Memorial Chapel in Rockville Centre on Monday, including many of those he helped in guardianship cases. “There was so much love in the room,” said his wife, Malky.
During Asarch’s campaign, his wife came up with a slogan that began as a joke, “Keep a mensch on the bench,” the Yiddish term for a person of integrity and honor. Asarch did his best to make sure that people who were not able to stand up for their own rights were protected.
“He was one of the guys who would come down off the bench to meet people who were incapacitated and spend time with them,” his wife recalled. “He was able to reach out to them.”
Joel K. Asarch was born in Brooklyn in 1952. His family moved to Baldwin when he was a child, and he graduated from Baldwin High School. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania in 1974 and 1975, and graduated from the New York University School of Law in 1978. The following year, he began a career in private practice with his father at the Lynbrook-based Asarch & Asarch, where he worked until 1995.