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Millard Midonick, 90; N.Y. judge

NEW YORK — Millard L. Midonick, a former Manhattan Family Court judge and surrogate who decided numerous celebrated estate cases, including those of the poet W.H. Auden and the painter Mark Rothko, died Jan. 18 in Manhattan. He was 99.

Millard Midonick was a lifelong progressive who in 1953, in the aftermath of Adlai Stevenson’s first failed presidential campaign, helped found the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club, which supports reform-minded political candidates.

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A lawyer who handled labor arbitrations and estates cases, he became a Family Court judge in 1962, and in 1971 was elected to the Surrogate’s Court.

In Family Court, Judge Midonick looked out for the rights of children, even those on the verge of adulthood.

In one well-publicized case in 1970 in which he was reversed on appeal, he ordered the father of a college student to continue supporting her financially after he stopped paying her bills because her grades had fallen and, against his wishes, she had moved out of her dorm.

In one of his final acts on the Family Court bench, Judge Midonick joined feminist critics of a statute that limited the ability to prosecute violent sex crimes. (In 1969 there were 1,085 rape arrests in New York City, with 18 convictions.)

He also pressed for the establishment of an Office of Public Guardian to represent infants and children.

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