Kimberly Greer was headed home to pack for her honeymoon on Thursday, Dec. 20, the day she was suddenly hit and killed by a bus rounding a corner in Lower Manhattan. She had worked another long day on research and opinion drafting as a judicial law clerk for U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine Parker of the Southern District of New York, the judge and others say.
The lengthy hours and hustle were nothing new for her. Greer, 28, was well-known to the judge, to her family and friends, to her co-clerk, to the dean of her former law school and to many others as endlessly energetic, talented, warm, effervescent and in love with the roles she kept piling on as a lawyer and young adult two years out of Fordham Law School.
Indeed, they said, she was a clerk who excelled, an adjunct professor in moot court at Fordham Law who sometimes stayed until 11 p.m. to help her students, an unofficial mentor to judicial interns and aspiring attorneys, a former Fordham Law student body president and national moot court team member, a newly married wife, and a dependable, open friend.
And so when news spread last week that a private charter bus had struck and killed Greer on the evening of Dec. 20, as she walked inside a crosswalk on Leonard Street, just blocks from the Southern District courthouse and soon after she’d left Judge Parker’s chambers, many who had been touched by her found it hard to grasp.
Said her friend and co-clerk, Danielle Tepper, in an interview Friday, “There was no reason for this. These are the types of things that honestly make me lose faith entirely.”
The charter bus driver, Xi Chen, 50, of Manhattan, has been criminally charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to use due care, the New York City Police have said.
Fordham Law Dean Matthew Diller noted in a separate interview on Friday that the entire New York bar had likely lost a future leader.
“I think the bar in New York has really lost a tremendous potential leader,” said Diller, who is also a New York City Bar Association vice president. “Someone who would have gone on to play a major role in whatever institutions and law offices she worked in.”
He continued, “She was always involved in activities beyond work—activities that centered on strengthening the community, doing good in the world. She was the type of person who would rise up and be interested in leadership positions.”
Parker, for her part, said that Greer was “gifted,” a “quick study,” and “committed to using the law to do good.”
“She was able to analyze facts and the law and explain it in a clear way,” said the judge, referring to both Greer’s writing and speaking abilities.
And one of her ambitions was to work inside the courtroom in her career, said Parker, who noted that Greer had recently told her that she may apply—after completing another already-secured federal clerkship in White Plains—to become a Southern District of New York federal prosecutor.
Her verbal advocacy was known widely as impressive and beyond her years as an attorney.
“She was well-spoken, and most importantly she was herself,” Parker explained. “She had her own voice, which is always the most important thing for an advocate.”
Diller recalled all of the prizes Greer won while on Fordham Law’s national moot court team, and he called her a moot court “superstar.”
Moreover, he said, Fordham Law moot court professor Maria Marcus had sought out Greer to help teach the subject as one of the youngest adjunct professors Fordham has had.
“I’m sure she was brought into the [moot court] role because the role involves working closely with students,” he explained, adding that recently, after her passing, he’d looked at her student evaluations and they were off the charts, as students raved about her.
“She was incredible in helping others, and listening, and nurturing people, so it was a great role for her,” he said of the moot court position.
Still, for all Greer’s early professional and law student accomplishments, which included winning first place in oral advocacy and best brief writer in moot court competition, being the associate editor of the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, and being a Ruth Whitehead Whaley Scholar and recipient of the Eugene J. Keefe Award, it seems that her open, infectious personality may be the quality people will remember most.
A number of her students flooded her funeral on Long Island on Sunday, Diller said, noting that hundreds of people were there, some “packing the aisles.” Her husband, Michael Eric Singer, had met her in their first year at Fordham Law and become a special friend to her before the romance ever began.
At Fordham, as head of the student body, Greer “was one of the few students who everyone knew—she could cut through,” Diller said, as “she had an incredibly welcoming personality, and when you met her you knew that she was really interested in whatever you were doing.”
Or, as Tepper, who also called her friend “brilliant” and recalled her drafting a judicial opinion as they spoke about the many issues before them in a complex habeas corpus case, said: “Very little time passed before I felt I could tell her anything, share anything with her.”
Fighting back tears, she also said that Greer may have wanted to become a professor later in her career, as well, and soon she quoted Greer’s cousin from the Jewish funeral, who’d told the hundreds gathered, “I wish I could tell you all something about Kimi that you didn’t already know,” but “Kimi treated everybody like family.”