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Laguardia Appoints Panken to Domestic Relations Court

December 11, 1934
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

ruddy face, and waxed enthusiastic over the opportunities for social good inherent in his new job.

"I am thankful to Mayor La-Guardia for an opportunity to be of real service to the community," he said. "This appointment opens the door for demonstrating a conviction I have always had, that the criminal is not always born so, but most often made so by economic and social conditions.

"Moreover, if the problem of crime is to be really tackled, then it is essential to rehabilitate the delinquent child. A misstep by a child, raised to the point of being termed a crime, and so treated, inevitably results in sending that child on the road to criminality.


"I intend to utilize my position in that court to raise and reclaim children, who through no fault of their own, have violated some law. I want to prevent the children appearing before me who have made a misstep from going on in the same direction, which creates in them an anti-social psychology.

"I will treat them, not as criminals, but as if they were my own children who had made a mistake rather than as children actuated by criminal propensities.

"I will also utilize my position to the nth degree to reconcile families who are often the victims of differences resulting from economic causes."

Of his past career the new justice had much to say, particularly of his life-long association with the Socialist movement and the cause of the working class.


"I was a Socialist long before I ever knew what Socialism was," Judge Panken declared. "It was the crisis of 1893 which made a Socialist of me. At that time farm products were fed to the cattle and rotted on the fields, while in the cities people starved. I failed to make any sense out of a crazy system of that sort and I concluded that that society must be reorganized.

"When I came to New York in 1895 from a Connecticut farm I began to read up on the subject and recognized myself for a Socialist. I joined the Social Demo###tic movement in 1897 and before I had attained my majority I was an official of the New York Trades and Labor Council.

"I organized the first women’s trade union in the United States in 1899, the Waist Makers Union, and I am particularly proud of the part I played in the organization of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union in 1914."


Judge Panken also called attention to the role he played in the organization of the American ORT and the People’s Relief Council.

In 1917 he received a ten-year appointment to the Municipal Court and served his full term.

In addition, he has been candidate of the Socialist Party for the offices of United States Senator, governor, Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals and many other offices. In his campaign for the United States Senate in 1920 he received the largest vote ever cast for a Socialist candidate.

He has represented his party at every international Socialist conference since 1922 and has lectured before Socialist audiences in every part of Europe. In 1929 he stumped England for the British Labor party and he recalled with a grin that in that year the Labor Party received the largest amount of votes it ever got in Whitechapel after he spoke there.

Judge Panken is also the representative of many powerful labor unions in New York City. In his youth he was a member of the Pocketbook Makers Union and to this day he is an honorary member of the union and carries his union card.

The new Domestic Relations Justice was born in Kolonowka, Russia, and came to the United States with his family in 1890. His father, he said, was one of the first Jewish farmers in the United States and was instrumental in the organization of a Jewish farm settlement at Chesterfield, Conn. The future judge spent his first sixteen years on farms and then came to New York City. He worked his way through New York University and was admitted to the bar in 1905.

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