You are here

Remembering a Judicial Icon -- Judge John T. Curtin

Judge John T. Curtin
Federal District Judge of the United States District Court
for the Western District of New York
August 24, 1921 - April 14, 2017

~ ~ ~

Nominated:  November 28, 1967

Confirmed & Commissioned:  December 14, 1967

Senior Status:  July 1, 1989

Inactive Senior Status:  April 12, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Friday, April 14, 2017
BUFFALO, NEW YORK -- Today the Western District of New York of the United States District Court saw the passing of one of the giants of the Court, Federal District Judge John T. Curtin at the age of 95.
Born John Thomas Curtin on August 24, 1921, in Buffalo, New York, Judge Curtin graduated from Canisius College in 1946 and earned an L.L.B. from the University of Buffalo Law School in 1949. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from 1952-1954. Following several years in private practice, he was then appointed United States Attorney for the WDNY. At the recommendation of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated him to a new seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. Judge Curtin was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 14, 1967, and received his commission the same day. Judge Curtin served as chief judge from 1974 to 1989, and assumed senior status on July 1, 1989.
Judge Curtin’s contributions to the Western District of New York were innumerable and significant throughout his 49-year career. In 1976, Judge Curtin ruled on the case Arthur v. Nyquist, which involved the integration of the Buffalo Public School District. Judge Curtin’s ruled that schools were “deliberately segregated” and that they would need to begin desegregation efforts immediately. In addition, Judge Curtin presided over The Buffalo Five trial involving the arrest of five individuals arrested for their break in to Buffalo’s Old Post Office in an attempt in 1971 to burn draft records. He also presided over the historic Love Canal Trial.
During his tenure on the federal bench, Judge Curtin served as the District’s Second Circuit Representative to the Judicial Conference of the United States. He was also a member of the Second Circuit Task Force on Gender, Racial & Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. Judge Curtin has been the recipient of many distinguished awards during his judicial tenure.
Judge Curtin continued with a busy case load from 1989 until he assumed inactive senior status almost 27 years later on April 12, 2016 at the age of 94. His commitment to his work made a significant difference to the WDNY as he worked to reduce the volume of social security cases and other cases that may have been delayed in the system due to the case load of the district.
Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr., Chief Judge of the Western District of New York, stated, “Judge Curtin was an extraordinary jurist, having dedicated his life to the federal district court and the Buffalo community. He was respected by attorneys, litigants and judicial colleagues, for his discernment of the constitution, his knowledge of the law, and his judicial temperament. On behalf of the entire Court family, we pay tribute to Judge Curtin, a true icon in our judicial community and we extend our sympathies to Judge Curtin’s wife, Jane, and their entire family.”
For additional information, contact:  Mary C. Loewenguth, Clerk of Court at 716-449-6302 or by email at