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Guide to the
Justice Stephen G. Crane Papers
on the Bernhard Goetz Trial and Other Cases
 MS 3152

New-York Historical Society
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New-York Historical Society

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This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on November 30, 2020
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Biographical / Historical

Cornell Law School graduate Stephen G. Crane (J.D., 1963) practiced law in New York City from 1963 until 1981, when he became a Judge for the Criminal Court of the City of New York. Crane was appointed Acting State Supreme Court Justice in 1984, and served in that position through 1989, during which time he presided over the controversial trial of so-called "Subway Vigilante" Bernhard H. Goetz. Crane became a Supreme Court Justice in 1990, and served as Administrative Judge of Supreme Court, Civil Branch for New York County from 1996 until 2001. That year, he was designated an Additional Justice for the Appellate Division, Second Department, and in 2005 was officially designated as an Associate Justice for that Court. He was promoted to Senior Associate Justice for the Appellate Division, Second Department in 2008, the year he retired.

On December 22, 1984, Bernhard Goetz, a white, 37-year-old electronics engineer riding the No. 2 subway, shot four African American youths—Barry Allen, Troy Canty, Darrell Cabey, and James Ramseur—who asked him for money. Goetz was indicted for attempted murder, and his subsequent trial brought intense debate to the subjects of self-defense and public safety. Some members of the public painted the shooter as a hero fighting the dangers of urban crime. Others viewed him as a depraved vigilante whose excessive force was racially motivated. Although Darrell Cabey was left paralyzed and brain-damaged by the shooting, Goetz was acquitted of attempted murder, and found guilty only of illegal possession of a handgun. He was sentenced to a year in prison (he served eight months at Riker's Island) and five years' probation.


This note is adapted from Justice Stephen G. Crane's biography on the website of the Historical Society of the New York Courts ( and Robert Sanger Steel's entry on "Bernhard Hugo Goetz" in  The Encyclopedia of New York City, 2nd ed. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2010), 514. For a chronology of the Goetz shooting and trial, see the Wikipedia article 1984 New York City Subway shooting.