James J. Lanzetta

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James J. Lanzetta, Congressman and Judge from New York

James Joseph Lanzetta (IPA: [länˈt̪͡s̪et̪ːä]) (December 21, 1894 – October 27, 1956) was an engineer, an attorney and a politician, a member of the United States House of Representatives from New York (1933-1935) and 1937-1939), and a justice in city court. He was appointed as Regional Commissioner of Puerto Rico in Washington, DC. After that he served as a city magistrate in New York, and in 1947 was appointed as a justice to the Domestic Relations Court, where he served until his death.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in New York City, he attended its public schools. He graduated from the Columbia University School of Engineering in 1917. He later enrolled in Fordham University School of Law, where he graduated in 1924.

Military service[edit]

Lanzetta joined the United States Army for World War I as a private in Company C, 302nd Engineers, and he was later a sergeant first class in the 1st Air Service Mechanics Regiment. Lanzetta served overseas from February 1918 to July 1919.

Career[edit]

He worked as an engineer and salesman in New York City from 1919 to 1922, and as an assistant supervisor in the city's Department of Markets from 1922 to 1925. He was admitted to the bar in 1925 and commenced practice in New York City.

Political career[edit]

Active in politics as a Democrat, he served on the Board of Aldermen from January 1932 to March 1933.

With the help of the Tammany Hall boss Jimmy Hines,[1] Lanzetta was elected as a Democrat to the 73rd Congress. He defeated the incumbent Congressman Fiorello H. La Guardia.

He represented the 20th district (then East Harlem) and served from March 4, 1933 to January 3, 1935. In 1934, in a close race with Vito Marcantonio, he lost his bid for re-election to the 74th Congress. In 1936, he won back his seat in the 75th Congress (causing Marcantonio to suffer his first defeat in what became a long Congressional career), serving from January 3, 1937 to January 3, 1939. He ran again in 1938 and 1940, losing both times to Marcantonio, who by then had switched to the American Labor Party.

After Lanzetta's 1938 defeat for re-election, he was appointed as legislative representative (Regional Commissioner) of Puerto Rico in Washington, D.C. Although he had never visited the island, he proved popular with its political leaders of all parties and with the residents of Puerto Rico.

Lanzetta later resumed the practice of law. On July 2, 1947, Mayor William O'Dwyer appointed him as city magistrate of New York City to fill a vacancy; later that month he was appointed to a full ten-year term. As the result of a one-day shortage of magistrates in March 1948, Lanzetta attracted notice by presiding in five courts in five hours and disposing of 500 cases, 400 of which were in the Downtown Traffic Court.

He served as city magistrate until May 26, 1948, when Mayor O'Dwyer appointed him to a ten-year term as a justice of the city Domestic Relations Court. He served in this capacity until his death in New York City in 1956.

He died on the night of October 27, 1956 while visiting the Greystone Hotel on Broadway. He was survived by his widow, Ethel, three brothers, Patsy, Dr. Louis, and John; and two sisters, Angelina and Regina. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx, New York.[2]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Stolberg, Mary M. Fighting Organised Crime: Politics, Justice, and the Legacy of Thomas E. Dewey (1995) pg. 229
  2. ^ James J. Lanzetta at Find a Grave
Sources
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Fiorello H. La Guardia
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th congressional district

1933–1935
Succeeded by
Vito Marcantonio
Preceded by
Vito Marcantonio
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th congressional district

1937–1939
Succeeded by
Vito Marcantonio