Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes has died from complications of coronavirus, according to the state court system.
Baynes, 64, passed away March 26 from pneumonia due to the coronavirus.
“He was a long-standing, well-liked judge then justice,” Lucian Chalfen, spokesman for the Office of Court Administration, said in a statement. “He will be missed by his all his colleagues both judicial and non-judicial.”
Baynes was elected in 2011 to a 14-year term of the Kings County Supreme Court in the Second Judicial District. He presided over civil court.
He was previously elected in the fall of 2004 to the New York City Civil Court and was assigned to Queens County. He also served as an acting justice for the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term. He got his start on the bench in 1993 as a housing court judge in Brooklyn.
“He was a great man, he was great to work for,” Judge Jill Epstein, who served as Justice Baynes’ law clerk for nine years, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “He pushed me, supported me and he was just the most gentle bear and lovely person. When people came into his courtroom, he wanted them to leave knowing they were treated with dignity and respect whether they were from a big firm or just some unrepresented pro se litigant. He tried to treat everybody fairly.”
Baynes began his career as a staff attorney for the New York City Housing Authority in their Housing Litigation Unit. He also worked for District Council 37, Municipal Employees Legal Services Plan, and the law firm of Rappaport, Krimko & Hertz.
He was a graduate of Howard University School of Law and Fordham University.
Chalfen said 15 judges in New York have tested positive for COVID-19.