Cover photo for The Honorable Barnett Elihu Hoffman's Obituary
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The Honorable Barnett Elihu Hoffman

December 10, 1940 — April 21, 2024

New Brunswick, NJ

Honorable Barnett E. Hoffman


Honorable Barnett E. Hoffman, a man of tremendous integrity and wit, a gifted story and joke-teller and a beloved member of his community, passed away at home on Sunday, April 21, surrounded by his loved ones. 


Hoffman was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on December 10, 1940. He is a graduate of New Brunswick High School class of 1958. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1962 and from Rutgers Law School in Newark in 1965. 


After serving as a legal assistant in the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, Hoffman entered the United States Army and was stationed in Seattle, Washington until March 1968 when he was honorably discharged as a Captain.


Upon returning to New Jersey from military service, he became a part-time assistant prosecutor in the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. After leaving the Prosecutor's Office, he was in private practice in Highland Park, returning full-time, in 1978, to the prosecutor's office as First Assistant Prosecutor.  In 1981, Governor Brendan Byrne nominated him to the Middlesex County District Court and he was appointed to the Superior Court and renominated by Governor Thomas Kean. In 1983, he was assigned to the criminal division where he remained until his retirement in 2002. At the time of his retirement, he was the presiding criminal judge and was the longest sitting criminal judge in the state. He presided over more than three hundred and twenty five criminal trials, which included an excess of fifty first degree homicide cases. He tried eleven capital murder cases, more than any other judge in the state and became a noted expert in presiding over sex crime cases.


Judge Hoffman was a regular instructor at the annual Judicial College and at "Baby Judges" school for newly appointed members of the bench. He also taught at the National Judicial College in Reno, NV; the Vermont Judicial College and the Florida Judicial College.


Judge Hoffman used his position on the bench to administer justice with respect, fairness and compassion. He always considered the people on both sides of his courtroom as human beings deserving of consideration.


In pursuit of these goals, Judge Hoffman was the founder of the Middlesex County Adult Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) at the Middlesex County Jail. He recognized that sentencing substance addicted individuals to jail without treatment was a recipe for recidivism. This innovative program began in October 2001 and is the first of its kind in New Jersey. To date, the program has helped its over one thousand graduates start a substance free and productive life.   Friends of ASAP, a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded to support this mission. 


After retirement, Judge Hoffman served on the faculty of Rutgers University, in the Department of Criminal Justice, teaching “Sex Crimes & Justice” as well as other courses.   He was the co-author of the definitive law manual Sex Crimes in New Jersey Understanding the Process and the Law.  Judge Hoffman was Of Counsel to the North Brunswick law firm of Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman and Stahl, and Lomurro Law in Freehold Township.  He continued his love of teaching for the last several years at OLLI-RU, which showcased his judicial expertise.


Judge Hoffman remained active with his alma mater as president of the Alumni Association and served on the Board of Trustees from 1981-1987. He was named a Loyal Son of Rutgers and was a lifelong supporter of Rutgers athletics. In fact, he rarely missed a Scarlet Knights Football or basketball game, traveling the country to enjoy his favorite college team.


Judge Hoffman was the president of the Jewish Social Service Committee and a member of the Highland Park Conservative Temple and Center.  In addition he has been inducted to the Hall of Distinguished Alumni of New Brunswick High School.  He also served on the Saint Peter’s Hospital Board of Trustees.


In the final months of his life, Judge Hoffman was privileged to be named executor of the estate of Leonard Kushner, a retired Highland Park police officer. Together with the attorney Jeff Hyman and colleague Lee Livingston, they awarded four million dollars to worthy 501(c)(3) charities primarily in Highland Park.


He was predeceased by his parents Clara Kenarik Hoffman and Samuel D. Hoffman and his sister Elaine Hoffman Greene. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Diane Brod Hoffman, his children and their spouses, Sam Hoffman (Andrea Crane),  Eva Hoffman (Ken Cornick) and Patty Hoffman Brahe (Chris Brahe), and his seven grandchildren: Jack and Juliet Hoffman, Clara, Theo and Archie Cornick and Tyler and Owen Brahe. 

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make donations to the two charities that were most important to Judge Hoffman:

  Jewish Social Service
 c/o Lee Livingston
 850 Carolier Lane
 North Brunswick, NJ 08902
 Adult Substance Abuse Protection Program (ASAP)
 P.O. Box 1481
 Highland Park, NJ 08904

Funeral services will be held at the Highland Park Conservative Temple - Congregation Anshe Emeth on Thursday, April 25 at 11 AM. Burial to follow at Elmwood Cemetery in New Brunswick, NJ. The arrangements are entrusted to Crabiel Parkwest Funeral Chapel in New Brunswick, NJ.


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Service Schedule

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Funeral Service

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Highland Park Conservative Temple – Congregation Anshe Emeth

81 Harrison Ave
Highland Park, NJ 08904

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make donations to the two charities that were most important to Judge Hoffman: Jewish Social Service c/o Lee Livingston 850 Carolier Lane North Brunswick, NJ 08902 Adult Substance Abuse Protection Program (ASAP) P.O. Box 1481 Highland Park, NJ 08904

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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Starts at 1:30 pm (Eastern time)

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*Standard text messaging rates apply.


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