Joseph G. Duffy

255 Ninth Street, Brooklyn, NY


Honorable Claire T. Pearce

Passed away on June 12, 2019

Hon. Claire Thomas Pearce, retired family court judge and children’s rights advocate, died peacefully at her home on June 12, 2019. She was 86.

Judge Pearce was an active member of the Park Slope community where she resided and was elected Chairman of the District 13 School Board twice in 1974 and 1975.

Later, following in the footsteps of her father James A. Thomas, who was the first African American Warden at Riker’s Island prison, Judge Pearce became a probation officer.

After earning a law degree from New York University, she joined the Juvenile Rights division of the Legal Aid Society where she advocated on behalf of children in the custody of various social service agencies.

In 1979, she was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Social Services, Special Services for Children by Mayor Koch. In this position, Judge Pearce often departed from traditional methods and championed novel approaches. For example, she instituted a program to highlight “hard to place” minority children with physical or emotional problems to increase their adoption rates.

In 1982, Mayor Koch appointed Judge Pearce to Family Court, where she presided as a Judge for 20 years first in Queens and then in Brooklyn until her retirement in 2002.

She is survived by her daughter Holly and her husband Neil; her son Michael and his wife Mercinth; and four grand children, Spencer, Dylan, James and Rhys.

Services will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn on June 22, 2019.


  • Visitation Saturday, June 22, 2019
  • Funeral Mass Saturday, June 22, 2019
  • Interment Saturday, June 22, 2019


Honorable Claire T. Pearce

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michele evans arrindell

June 18, 2019

woe to the unprepared or casually dressed attorney who appeared before Judge Pearce in the old brooklyn family court building in the 1990's because Judge Pearce was classy and dignified and maintained court room decorum every day. She was wise and fair and never had a hair out of place. Sometimes i would see her in park slope always put together but I shall never forget seeing her pump her own gas while wearing her mink coat and didn't spill a drop ! A fabulous jurist in every sense of the word. Rest in Peace.