Spotlight: Judge Jerome B. Simandle

A PRINCETON MAN WHO ROSE RAPIDLY IN THE FEDERAL SYSTEM, WAS AN EARLY NAIDER’S RAIDER

by John Charlton

(Sept. 28, 2009) — Judge Jerome B. Simandle’s court is currently hearing the case of Kerchner et al. vs. Obama et al.. The Post & Email will from time to time publish Spotlight reports on public officials in the news, to highlight their background and personal history, available from public sources and those who have known them in life.

Jerome B. Simandle was born in Binghamton, NY, in 1949. He graduated in 1967 from Binghamton North High School.  As a youth he went by the name “Jerry”.  He applied and was admitted to Princeton University in the same year.

A Raider at Princeton & Beyond

At Princeton  Simandle was one of the early “Nader’s raiders,” and a famous one, at that.

In the summer of 1970, while still an undergraduate at Princeton, he co-authored a paper for the Center for Study of Responsive Law, with Reuben Robertson, demanding the FAA release “Systemworthiness Analysis Program” reports (SWAP reports) in accord with the  FOIA law.

The success of the report led to Reuben Robertson’s appointment to a Citizens’ committee to advise the Civil Aeronautics Board later that same year, according to a report in the Nov. 5th, 1970, issue of The Machinist, a union publication.

Simandle was the Raider who broke the story on FAA collusoin with the airline industry, after he walked into the FAA offices in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 4, 1970, and asked for  summary data on airline safety (as reported by Jack Anderson in The Free-Lance Star, Aug. 5, 1970, p. 3).  James Daugherty, Assistant Chief of the FAA’s Maintenance Division refused to hand it over, without permission of the airline industry lobbying group the ATA.  There was an immediate political reaction against the FAA and industry involvement in their activities.

The Center for Study of Responsive Law was founded by Ralph Nader in the summer of 1969 as a platform for activist students.  More than 30,000 students applied to join in his effort to demand corporate responsibility. The students working at the Center were popularly known as Naider’s Raiders.

Such a massive response to Nader’s call for student activits to assist him fight corporate America might have been fostered by the 400,000 strong Students for a Democratic Society, which was heavily represented at the elite universities of the Nation at that time.

The organization had a very active chapter at Princeton, and in the years 1968-1970 organized several protests and a draft resistence group, and its anti-war protest strategy was followed at numerous campuses.  Indeed Fred M. Hechinger wrote in The New York Times on May 5, 1968, that the chapter as in the “vanguard of revolt everywhere.”  The chapter’s faculty advisor was a history professor, Martin Duberman, who afterwards became a homosexual activist.

At Princeton, Simandle, according to his own admission, was a student and admirer of the social-activist Professor Steve M. Slaby, who promoted reconstruction in Vietnam and African Studies and who was a member of the U.S. Committee for Scientific Cooperation With Vietnam. Slaby had been a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Oslo, Norway.  Slaby was, more significantly an anti-war protester, who organized students and faculty against the war in close connection with, if not a faculty co-advisor for, Students for a Democratic Society. Slaby was described as the “house radical” in a later Chronical of Higher Education article, which was recently scrubbed from the net.

Readers of The Post & Email can view some of Simandle’s Princeton classmates at their 2006 reunion page.

Simandle graduated from Princeton with Bachelor of Science in Engineering, in  1971.

Simandle avoided being drafted during the Vietnam War, even though the draft ended on Jan. 27, 1973.

After Princeton he went on to studey in Sweden — perhaps on the advice of Slaby — earning a Diploma in Social Sciences, at the University of Stockholm, in 1975; then in apparently one year of study, he earned a Juris Doctor, University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1976.

In 1976, while a student intern at the University of Pennsylvania, he again collaborated with Reuben Robertson in an complaint filed on April 20, with the FAA, against smoking in the cockpit of planes; this complaint was issued by  Robertson as director of the Public Citizen Litigation Group, Washington, D.C.. (The linked PDF of this complaint omits the page containing the names of the petitioners).

Simandle’s Career takes off

After graduation from Pennsylvania University Simandle immediately was taken on as a clerk by another Princeton man, the Hon. John F. Gerry, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, 1976-1978.  Simandle became licensed to practice law in NJ in 1978.

After just two years of clerking he was appointed an assistant Attorney General, District of New Jersey, 1978-1983 under Jimmy Carter; then after 4 years the Attorney in charge of Trenton office, 1982-1983.  He then served as a Magistrate Judge at Camden for 9 years.

According to a New York Times report, published in 1992, he was recommended to the Federal Bench by more than 70 colleges, earning the highest regard of the American Bar Association’s standing committee on the Federal judiciary.

Finally, he became a judge, U. S. District Court, District of New Jersey, nominated by George H.W. Bush on April 1, 1992, to a new seat created by 104 Stat. 5089; and according to the Library of Congress, was confirmed by the unanimous consent of U.S. Senate on May 21, 1992, after a very favorable committee report given verbally, without a printed report, by the then Senator Joseph Biden; Simandle received his commission as Federal Judge on May 26, 1992.

The docket of the Court shows over 1,800 cases that have been filed before his bench.

In 2006-7, he was treasurer of the national Federal Judges’ Association; since at least 2007 he has been a member of the editorial board for their publication “In Camera” and the Chair on their Board of Directors, Judicial Conference Liason.

Financial Filings

Judicial Watch publishes Judge Simandle’s recent financial disclosure statements for 2005, 2006, and 2007.

According to these public disclosures, Judge Simandle received compensation for the following speeches:

Federal Judges Association, Board of Directors Meeting, Arlington, VA, May 14-15, 2005 (for food, transportation, and lodging).

Commission for Environmental Cooperation (Governments of United States, Mexico & Canada), as a Faculty Speaker at Environmental Law Symposium for Judges, held at Mexico City, Mexico, on Nov. 28-30, 2005 (or food, transportation, and lodging).

Federal Judges Association, Board of Directors Meeting, Arlington, VA, May 5-9, 2006 (for food, transportation, and lodging).

Federal Judges Association, Board of Directors Meeting, Arlington, VA, May 3-5, 2003 (for food, transportation, and lodging). — This item reported on 2007 disclosure, so may be a typo for year.

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UPDATED 09/30/2009: with additional information regarding Simandle’s breaking of the FAA story, his membership and offices in the Federal Judges’ Association, and on Prof. Slaby and the SDS chapter at Princeton.