Login | January 22, 2019

Retired Youngstown muni court judge remembered

Pictured here from the left back row are Judge Lloyd Haynes, Judge Joseph P. O’Neill, Judge Michael Gerchak, Judge Fred Bailey, Judge Martin P. Joyce and Judge Louis P. Levy. The front row features (from left to right) Judge Nathaniel Jones, Judge Frank Kryzan, Judge Joseph Donofrio and Judge John P. Leskovyansky. Judge Levy passed away on March 15. (Photo courtesy of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge R. Scott Krichbaum).

Legal News Reporter

Published: April 5, 2018

He presided over the Youngstown Municipal Court for more than 10 years, earning a reputation as a fair and honest judge, who was always willing to listen to both sides of an argument, but on March 15 Judge Louis Koppel “Luke” Levy passed away in Key West, Florida at the age of 81.

“I loved my brother very much,” said Judge Levy’s sister Charlotte Schwartz. “We were five years apart and he was always there for me.

“He was a terrific uncle to my kids and very close with all of our cousins,” said Schwartz. “We were one big family.”

Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas Judge R. Scott Krichbaum described Judge Levy as a “good man,” who made decisions based on precedent and facts.

“I admired Judge Levy,” said Judge Krichbaum. “He was very certain of himself, and at times opinionated, but to his credit he never let his opinions get in the way of considering all the evidence.

“If an attorney could make a good case, he would certainly be willing to listen.”

Born in Youngstown on Aug. 28, 1936 to Jacob and Gertrude Polonsky Levy, he was the older of two children.

Judge Levy graduated from Boardman High School in 1954, where he served as class president for all four years and as manager of the basketball team.

He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1958, attended the University of Michigan and received his juris doctor from the school now known as the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

Judge Levy was a paralegal at the Cleveland firm founded by Abe Dudnik (now Nurenberg, Paris, Heller and McCarthy Co.) and later practiced with his father.

Sole practitioner James Gentile shared office space with Judge Levy around 1980.

“Luke’s father was a lawyer and when his father retired, Luke took over his practice,” said Gentile. “At the time, he handled a lot of probate work.

“Luke was a very kind man,” he said. “He was always calm. I never saw him get upset over anything.

“When he took the bench, I came before him many times,” said Gentile. “He was fair and he listened to both sides. He was well liked and respected by lawyers and judges alike.”

Judge Levy also served as an assistant police prosecutor in Youngstown and a traffic court referee at Mahoning County Juvenile Court.

J. Gerald Ingram, a sole practitioner in Youngstown, first met Judge Levy during the time he was a referee.

“Luke was an outgoing guy, with an engaging personality, who enjoyed verbal repartee,” said Ingram.

It was during Judge Levy’s time as a referee that Judge Krichbaum also got to know him.

“He was a very knowledgeable referee and I had a lot of respect for him,” said Judge Krichbaum. “I served on his campaign for judge and on his re-election campaign.”

Judge Levy took the Youngstown Municipal Court bench in 1985, serving until 1997 when he retired.

Ingram appeared in front of him on many occasions.

“He was a fine judge,” said Ingram. “He was fair-minded and even-keeled.

“I think the Youngstown Municipal Court missed him upon his retirement.”

Judge Krichbaum said he appeared before Judge Levy many times when he was a young lawyer.

“Judge Levy was always prepared, fair and judicious,” said Judge Krichbaum. “He was a lawyer’s judge. He was someone you could talk to who was always willing to listen.

“We were social friends and we attended many of the same professional events,” said Judge Krichbaum. “He had a great sense of humor and I do remember that he loved ice cream as much as I did.

“We often stopped at Handel’s on the way to an event and got some ice cream.”

Norma Marzano, who served as Judge Levy’s secretary during his tenure at the court, said he was “a sweetheart, who did not have a mean or prejudicial bone in his body.

“He pretended that he could be tough, but he was really like a big teddy bear.

“He cared about the people who came before him.”

A member of The Mahoning County Bar Association from 1965 to 1998, Judge Levy received the Supreme Court Superior Award for Excellence in 1986.

His longtime friend and bailiff James L. Miller said Judge Levy was a “dependable, honest person and a very fair judge.”

Miller first got to know Judge Levy when he was an assistant police prosecutor.

“I was a Youngstown police detective at the time,” said Miller. “When I retired I became his bailiff.

“We were friends for almost 50 years,” he said. “We went to Browns games together and he was close with my family.”

Miller said they only argued one time and it was over air conditioning.

“Luke hated air conditioners and he never wanted to turn them on when we were in court,” said Miller. “He never changed. The last time I spoke to him he was still against air conditioning.”

Judge Levy was a member of the Temple El Emeth in Youngstown.

His sister said he was a devoted golfer, an avid collector of art, stamps (mainly Canadian airplanes) and coins.

Services were held for Judge Levy on March 21 at Agrenovitz Chapel in Youngstown. He’s been interred at El Emeth Coitsville Cemetery.

Judge Levy is survived by his sister Charlotte Schwartz of Los Angeles, two nieces, many cousins and a great-nephew.