John L. Phillips
Civil Court judge
Died: February 16, 2008 (Brooklyn, New York)
Best Known as: Civil Court judge in Brooklyn, New York
John L. Phillips was a Civil Court judge in Brooklyn, New York known as the kung fu judge because he earned a tenth-degree black belt in kung fu fighting. He owned theaters in Brooklyn that were renowned platforms for black activists in the 1980s including “The Slave Theater” and the “Black Lady Theater.” The Slave Theater in particular held many rallies and press conferences after racially charged killings in the 1980s. John L. Phillips also made a fortune of about $10 million by buying properties in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.