Judge Robert Hanophy of New York’s Queens borough is considered dean of the city’s murder cases, reports the New York Daily News. Hanophy, 70, has earned a reputation as, simply, the toughest judge in town. “Hang ’em Hanophy,” as some courthouse people call him, has sentenced 232 people for murder, manslaughter or homicide since computers started recording city criminal cases in 1987. An elected trial judge, he is widely believed to have imprisoned more murderers than any sitting judge in the nation. “I don’t have anything else but homicides,” Hanophy told the News. “That’s all I try. I like what I do. I love it.” Hanophy has sentenced killers to prison for a cumulative 5,700 years minimum, with 74 of them given maximum life terms.
He always offers a defendant a plea bargain, and continues to be surprised when they opt for a trial. “I can’t offer them anything but a life sentence,” he said. “Look, if you’re convicted of a homicide, you’re not going to get two to four.” Hanophy was censured in 1997 for a “vituperative” speech from the bench to British parents of a mentally ill woman who had killed her newborn child. The speech triggered an angry reaction in the House of Commons. Hanophy let the woman serve probation in Britain and expedited the case. Still, her parents complained it was taking too long to send their daughter home. “I said, hell, you’re coming from the most liberal criminal justice system in the world,” the judge said.