David Homer, Class of 1965, Inducted in 2004
Actors Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton might never have made the successful movie The Falcon and the Snowman in 1985 if it wasn’t for the work of David Homer. While working for the Justice Department in the 1970s, David’s efforts led to the prosecution and conviction in Los Angeles of two men selling government secrets to the Russians at its embassy in Mexico. That case is the basis for the movie.
As a prosecutor and a judge, he is noteworthy for his many success in trying significant espionage, public corruption, fraud, kidnaping and narcotics cases. As a judge, he has also tried and decided a variety of cases involving claims of employment discrimination, violations of civil rights, personal injuries and commercial disputes.
David graduated from Brown University in 1969 with a degree in Political Science. Facing the Vietnam war draft with a low lottery number, and feeling the need to serve his country, David spent the following year with VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America).
He worked in St. Croix, teaching pre-school to underprivileged children and helping out in a legal services office. After returning home, David pursued a career as a social worker, both in Syracuse and Los Angeles, before attending the Syracuse University College of Law.
“A law degree offered independence,” he explained. “It was something I thought I could do under many different circumstances and in different places. The practice of law also offered an outlet for my competitive instinct and an intellectual challenge.”
After graduating, he worked in Washington, D.C. from 1975-1979 for the Justice Department, before feeling the need to relocate to a smaller town. The Prosecutor’s office in Albany offered a position in their office as an Assistant United States Attorney. He also served as Attorney-in-Charge, and as Chief in the Criminal Division before becoming a United States Magistrate Judge in 1995.
His law career was greatly influenced by his junior English class at F-M High School, and his teacher, Jim Ace. “He excited my intellectual curiosity,” David said. And this is a key to a successful career in law. Any discipline that requires analysis and reasoning is good training, such as philosophy or engineering. Practice analyzing causes and looking for patterns is also good preparation.”
He also adds that training in drama is worthwhile too, particularly if you’re advocating for a client’s position, which he feels is a big part of an attorney’s job.
David is also greatly involved in the Youth Courts of the Capital District, which created a system of community-based courts for youths charged with criminal offenses, where other young people act as prosecutors, defenders, judges and juries. This system serves as an alternative to Family Court proceedings.
In his free time, David enjoys sports of all kinds, including golf, baseball, basketball and football. He lives in the Albany area with his wife Clare. He has three children. One is a college freshman, one is a high school sophomore and the third is a professional baseball player with the Colorado Rockies organization.