Irving Lehman

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Irving Lehman
Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
In office
Preceded by Frederick E. Crane
Succeeded by John T. Loughran
Personal details
Born (1876-01-28)January 28, 1876
New York City, New York
Died September 22, 1945(1945-09-22) (aged 69)
Port Chester, New York

Irving Lehman (January 28, 1876 – September 22, 1945) was an American lawyer and Jewish politician from New York. He was Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals from 1940 until his death in 1945.[1]


He was born on January 28, 1876 in New York City to Mayer Lehman (d. 1897) and Babette Newgass. Herbert H. Lehman was his brother. He graduated with an LL.B. from Columbia University Law School in 1897.[1]

He was a justice of the New York Supreme Court from 1909 to 1923, elected in 1908 on the Democratic ticket, and re-elected in 1922 on the Democratic and Republican tickets.[2]

In 1923, he was elected on the Democratic and Republican tickets to a 14-year term on the New York Court of Appeals, and re-elected in 1937. In 1939, he was elected Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals on the Democratic, Republican and American Labor tickets, and remained on the bench until his death in office.[1]

In 1942 the New York Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions of the notorious Louis Buchalter and his two associates Emanuel Weiss and Louis Capone under a sharply divided decision of the judges, who filed four opinions. The death sentences were upheld by a vote of 4-3. (People v. Buchalter, 289 N.Y. 181) However, Judge Lehman, who was also affirming the conviction of the three, expressed some doubts in the verdict and stated that the errors and defects in the case were in fact numerous.[3] In 1943 the United States Supreme Court granted Buchalter's petition to review the case and in a full opinion affirmed the conviction, 7-0, with two justices abstaining. (319 U.S. 427 (1943)) Finally, Judge Lehman signed a show cause order in 1944 because the counsel for the trio had appeared before Governor Thomas E. Dewey in a clemency plea, and Lehman eventually delayed the execution of the condemned men.[4] Even so, the clemency plea was denied by Governor Dewey. On March 4, 1944 Emanuel Weiss thanked Chief Judge Lehman in his final words before being electrocuted in Sing Sing.

Personal life and death[edit]

On June 26, 1901, he married Sissie Straus, the daughter of Nathan Straus.[1] The couple was childless.[5] Lehman died of a heart ailment on September 22, 1945 at his home on Ridge Street in Port Chester, New York.[1] Services were held at Temple Emanu El in Manhattan.[5] He was buried at the Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Irving Lehman, 69, Noted Jurist, Dies. Chief of the Court of Appeals, Brother of Ex-Governor. Made Liberal Decision". New York Times. September 23, 1945. Retrieved 2011-02-22. Chief Judge Irving Lehman of the New York State Court of Appeals died here of a heart ailment at 1:30 o'clock this morning at his home in Ridge Street. He had been a member of the State's judiciary for thirty-seven years. His age was 69.
  2. ^ "First District Nominates Supreme Court Justices Lehman, McGoldrick and Marsh". New York Times. October 3, 1922. Retrieved 2011-02-22. Two Democrats and one Republican were nominated for Justices of the Supreme Court at the Republican Judicial Convention for the First Judicial District, which was held last night at Bryant Hall, Sixth Avenue and Forty second Street.
  3. ^ "Boro killers plead for life thursday" (PDF). Brooklyn NY Daily Eagle. November 29, 1942. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  4. ^ "Lepke's execution delayed by judge". Spokane Daily Chronicle. February 4, 1944. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  5. ^ a b HISTORICAL SOCIETY of the NEW YORK COURTS: "IRVING LEHMAN (1876-1945) - Court of Appeals: 1924-1945" by Henry M. Greenberg retrieved October 28, 2015

External links[edit]

  • [1] Nominated to Supreme Court, with short bio, in NYT on October 19, 1908
  • [2] Listing of Court of Appeals judges, with portrait (gives erroneously death date as September 21, all other sources give September 22)
Legal offices
Preceded by
Frederick E. Crane
Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
Succeeded by
John T. Loughran