David W. Peck: Writer, Judge (1902 - 1990) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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David W. Peck

David W. Peck

David W. Peck
The basics

Quick Facts

Was Writer Judge
Field Law Literature
Gender male
Birth 3 December 1902
Death 23 August 1990 (aged 87 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


David W. Peck (born 3 December 1902; died 23 August 1990 in New York City) was an American jurist. From 1947 to 1957 he was Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals of the Supreme Court in New York, and took in that time a leading role in the reform of judiciary of that state. In 1950 Peck in Germany lead the Advisory Board on Clemency on recommendations for the pardon of convicted war and Nazi criminals.

Life and Work

David Warner Peck was born in Crawfordsville in Indiana { Crawfordsville is the administrative head of Montgomery County and home to Wabash College, a private College.} Peck skipped the twelfth year {senior year} in high school and began at the age of 16 years to study in Wabash College where after three years {instead of the usual four} he graduated with honors. He then studied law at Harvard Law School. To finance his studies he worked as a Tutor.

After graduating and licensed to practice law in the New York state Bar, Peck joined the Sullivan and Cromwell where he remained connected throughout his life in 1934 He was 31 years as a partner with Sullivan and Cromwell and involved in Civil litigation. Peck was a Republican in the early 1930s and was with Thomas E. Dewey and Herbert Brownell of the so-called "Young Turks" of the Republican party in New York county.

1943 Peck was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court of New York. 1947 Peck was appointed Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the 1st District and was thus responsible for the districts of Manhattan und Bronx. Peck at his appointment was 44 years old thus was the youngest judge to date of this rank in the State of New York. In 1957 Peck returned to Sullivan and Cromwell where he remained until his retirement in 1980.

1955 Peck wrote The Greer Case about a 1946 case of deceased Mabel Seymour Greer, in which he himself was involved as a judge. Mrs. Greer admitted before her death to have given a son up for adoption after birth, but her entire substantial fortune of this otherwise childless woman was bequeathed to Harvard University. An alleged son contested the will. The book became a best seller, going through eight editions by Penguin and Reader's Digest Edition, and in 1957 was filmed as an episode of CBS-Series Playhouse 90 .

"Peck Panel"

US High Commissioner for Germany John McCloy convened in March 1950 as the Advisory Board on Clemency (dt: Advisory board for Pardon, named after its chairman the Peck Panel ) as an independent expert panel recommendations to prison of persons convicted by US Military tribunals as convicted war criminals. The Panel included in addition to Peck as Chairman, two other persons: Frederick A. Moran, Chairman of the New York Board of Parole and Brigadegeneral Conrad E. Snow, Legal Advisor of the US State Department. The legal status of Peck panel was not fully understood: neither should it be a court of appeal, because the judgments on the legal basis of Control Council Law No. 10 did not see any reviewing body, nor the mere exercise of the grace legislation was provided, which is more personal to. arrives circumstances of the convicted person. In practice, had the Peck Panel Properties of Cassation as of grace Committee. By the Peck panel subjected the mercy petitions of the convicts and the exculpatory briefs their defense lawyers into consideration, however, the prosecution did not hear again, a mitigation of the sentences was applied already structurally.

The Peck Panel was on the mercy petitions of 99 convicts, all were in prison for war criminals in Landsberg. The Peck panel was on August 28, 1950 gave its recommendations. In 77 of 99 cases, the panel recommended a reduction of the penalty; this should seven of the 15 death sentences be converted into imprisonment. The Peck Panel said, inter alia for the following convicted of the Subsequent Nuremberg processes recommends that:

  • For 20 convicted of the Einsatzgruppen-Prozess:
    • 7 x maintain the death penalty (Blobel, Braune, Klingelhöfer, Naumann, Ohlendorf, Ott, Sandberger)
    • 4 x conversion of the death penalty to 20 (Blume) or 15 years (Biberstein, Haensch, Steimle)
    • 2 x immediate release of persons sentenced to death (Schubert, Seibert)
    • 2 x conversion of a life sentence to 10 years (Jost, Nosske)
    • 1 x shortening of a prison sentence from 20 to 10 years (Schulz)
    • 4 x immediate release of a prison sentence of 20 (Radetzky, Six) and 10 years,(Fendler, Rühl)
  • For convicted of the Krupp-Prozess:
    • Release from 12 years' imprisonment Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, one of the most prominent cases.
    • Reducing the sentences of other defendants (inter alia Houdremont and Müller)
  • For convicts of the OKW-Prozess:
    • Reducing the sentences of other defendants (inter alia) Küchler, Reinecke, Warlimont
  • For convicts of the Geiselmord-Prozess:
    • Reducing the sentences of other defendants inter alia of Felmy, Lanz, Rendulic
  • For convicts of the Wilhelmstraßen-Prozess:
    • Reducing the sentences of other defendants inter alia of Lammers, Schwerin-Krosigk, Ernst von Weizsäcker

The US High Commissioner John McCloy, who had to make the final decision, disagreed with the recommendations of the Panel Peck in a number of cases. His legal adviser and closest confidant, Robert R. Bowie, advised particular to grant the convicted generals no preferential treatment. On January 31, 1951 McCloy finally announced his decision. This deviated in a number of cases of the recommendation of the Panel Peck, and turned out some strict and sometimes less severe. Only five death sentences from the NMT judgments should therefore be enforced.


  • The Greer Case, a true court drama. Simon and Schuster, New York 1955.
  • Decision at law. Dodd, Mead & Company, New York 1961.


  • Joan Cook: David W. Peck, 87, Former Justice And Court Reformer in New York. In: "New York Times" vom 24. August 1990. (Nachruf)
  • Hilary Earl: The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, 1945–1958: Atrocity, Law, and History. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2009, ISBN 978-0-521-45608-1.
  • Norbert Frei: Vergangenheitspolitik: die Anfänge der Bundesrepublik und die NS-Vergangenheit. Beck, München 1996, ISBN 3-406-41310-2.

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