Simandle said he considered Mr. Brotman a mentor who showed him, by example and through advice, how to be a judge. "He had a strong sense of right and wrong, of what was practical," Simandle said.
"You won't find long law review articles written by Judge Brotman," Simandle said. "Instead, you'll find many decisions, in many cases."
Lawyer Joel Rosen, now a partner at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP, knew Mr. Brotman as a fellow federal judge, but also appeared before him as a federal prosecutor.
"He cared about the impact the law was having on people," Rosen said. "He was a gentleman. He would speak his mind if he thought you were off-base, but he was the essence of what a judge should be."
One of the finest compliments paid to Mr. Brotman came from a member of the mob, Philip "Chicken Man" Testa, recalled Ronald Chance, a retired supervisor and special agent for the U.S. Department of Labor's Organized Labor Strike Force.
In the late 1980s, another organized crime defendant, now in witness protection, was willing to pay Mr. Brotman $350,000 to avoid a long prison term, Chance said. When the defendant sought Testa's advice on bribing Mr. Brotman, Testa told him to "save his money - the man cannot be reached."
In Camden, Mr. Brotman is known for sending mob boss Nicodemo Scarfo to jail, negotiating a $32.5 million settlement to clean up the GEMS landfill in Gloucester County, dethroning World Boxing Association champion Sean O'Grady when he failed to honor an agreement to fight a contender, and throwing the book at all the players in a huge mortgage fraud case against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that roiled Camden in the early 1980s.
In 1997, he was named to a seven-year term on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees government surveillance. He was serving on the court on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I knew what I was doing was really, really important because it affected the security of my country," Mr. Brotman said in an interview before he retired.
Mr. Brotman's son-in-law, Lee Braem, said the family had been receiving letters from many of Mr. Brotman's law clerks, who described him as a role model. "He loved being a lawyer," Braem said. "He loved being a judge."
An avid photographer, Mr. Brotman had been looking forward to organizing his work and spending time with his wife, Suzanne.
"We've been married 62 years, and we enjoy each other," Mr. Brotman said in the interview before retirement.
Mr. Brotman grew up in Brotmanville, a village near Vineland established by his grandfather, a Russian immigrant who moved his coat factory from Brooklyn to South Jersey, providing jobs for immigrants and helping them settle in a new land.
In 1942, a year after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Mr. Brotman, then 18, left Yale University to enlist in the military. He studied Burmese and the culture, politics, and economy of Southeast Asia and China. He was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services, a World War II military intelligence agency that evolved into the Central Intelligence Agency.
He earned a bachelor's in Eastern studies at Yale, graduating in 1947. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1951.
During the Korean conflict, he was recalled to active duty and handled intelligence assignments in Washington with the Armed Forces Security Agency, which later became the NSA, the National Security Agency.
In 1952, he and Samuel L. Shapiro opened a law firm in Vineland. He practiced law with the firm until President Gerald R. Ford appointed him to the federal bench in 1975.
Mr. Brotman is survived by his wife, son Richard, and daughter Alison Brotman.
A visitation is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at Beth Israel Synagogue, 1015 E. Park Ave., Vineland, N.J. 08360, before a 2 p.m. funeral service there, followed by a graveside service at Alliance Cemetery in Norma, Salem County.
Donations may be sent to the synagogue at the above address. Condolences may be offered to the family at www.ronefuneralservice.com.