Nassau County Supreme Court Justice George Peck, who during his stint as a prosecutor during a particularly violent era in the New York City metro area included a number of high-profile murder convictions, died on Wednesday. He was 75.
Born in New York City in 1942, Peck obtained his J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law in 1966; he earned an LL.M. from the New York University School of Law.
From there he spent a year working as a pension consultant for the Equitable Life Assurance Society, then moved on to the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, where he spent a cumulative total of 27 years, with a one-year break to clerk for Leo McGinity in 1976-77, when McGinity was a County Court judge.
As a prosecutor, Peck racked up a record number of homicide convictions, some of which were splashed across the headlines—he worked to put John MacKenzie away for the 1975 shooting death of Nassau County police officer Matthew Giglio during a botched burglary.
The MacKenzie case was Nassau County’s final death-penalty case.
Several years later, Peck worked on the prosecution of the men who shot and killed Leon Stern, a member of the defense team for “Son of Sam” David Berkowitz and himself a former Nassau County prosecutor.
Peck’s final case for the Nassau County DA was the prosecution of Colin Ferguson, who in 1993 boarded an eastbound Long Island Rail Road train with a firearm and opened fire on passengers, killing six and wounding 19.
“I’ve seen a lot of carnage and a lot of sorrow and I’ve talked to a lot of victims, but all my other cases pale compared to this one,” Peck said at Ferguson’s sentencing, The New York Times reported, where he successfully argued for Ferguson to receive a 200-year sentence.
Peck’s daughter, Barbara Peck, who followed in her father’s footsteps into the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, said her father had a passion for law and that he had a “theatrical” courtroom style that could captivate audiences in the galley.
Barbara Peck said that, when her father was working cases, a pressing matter for him was the “rights and dignity” of the victims of crime and their families.
“He simply loved the law,” Barbara Peck said. “He loved working. He never wanted to retire.”
In 1995, George Peck joined the judiciary as a Nassau County District Court judge and was appointed as a County Court judge in 2002, and later appointed as an acting state Supreme Court justice.
His judicial career was not without controversy, however. In 2014, amid reports that Peck’s principal law clerk made sexually inappropriate comments to female prosecutors, he was reassigned from handling criminal cases to a civil part.
In a written statement, Justice Thomas Adams, administrative judge for Nassau County courts, said Peck served the county with “pride and integrity.”
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Justice George Peck,” Adams said.
In addition to Barbara, Peck is survived by his wife, Patricia; another daughter, Rachel; and his son, William.