James Thomas Foley

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James Thomas Foley (July 9, 1910 – August 17, 1990) was a United States federal judge.

Born in Troy, New York, Foley graduated from Fordham College with an A.B. in 1931 and Albany Law School with an LL.B. in 1934. He was in private practice in Troy from 1935 to 1942. He was a Secretary to the Hon. William H. Murray of the New York State Supreme Court from 1939 to 1942, and again from 1946 to 1949. He was an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II, from 1942 to 1945.

Nomination[edit]

Judge Foley's father was a good friend of Albany Political Boss Dan O'Connell. O'Connell was an avid fan of cockfighting, and raised chickens on his property throughout his lifetime for that purpose. Foley's Bar in Troy regularly held cockfights, and O'Connell and the elder Foley became friends as a result.

In 1948, President Harry Truman's prospects of re-election seemed dim. Although Truman ultimately won the election, he lost New York to Thomas Dewey, who had served as the State's governor. However, Truman defeated Dewey overwhelmingly in Albany and the surrounding area. Dewey had specifically referenced the O'Connell Machine as an example of corruption that he would fix as Governor. Dewey failed in every attempt to destroy the Machine, and incurred the wrath of voters sympathetic to O'Connell, especially politically minded Irish Catholics. Truman, being fully aware of these facts, was extremely grateful that the O'Connell machine had delivered such a substantial margin of victory in Governor Dewey's own Capital, contacted O'Connell after his victory, and as an expression of gratitude, offered a favor to O'Connell. O'Connell suggested that Truman appoint James T. Foley, his friend's son, who had briefly served as an attorney and then served as an officer during World War II as a Federal Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. Truman agreed, and on February 13, 1949, Foley was nominated by Truman to a seat on that court vacated by Edward S. Kampf. Foley was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 31, 1949, and received his commission on February 2, 1949. He served as chief judge from 1963 to 1980. He assumed senior status on June 30, 1980, and served in that capacity until his death, in 1990, in Albany, New York. Foley became one of the youngest-appointed, and longest-serving Federal Judges in United States history.

Sources[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Edward S. Kampf
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York
1949–1980
Succeeded by
Roger Miner