John Boyd Avis

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John Boyd Avis (July 11, 1875 – January 21, 1944) was a United States federal judge.


Avis was born in Deerfield, New Jersey, the son of a New Jersey assemblyman, and the great-great grandson of a Revolutionary War soldier who had fought at Valley Forge.[1] He read law from 1890 to 1894 with John S. Mitchell and from 1897 to 1898 with David O. Watkins in Woodbury, New Jersey.[1][2][3] Avis married Minnie G. Anderson on September 27, 1899.[3] In 1900, he became a partner of Watkins, and the partnership lasted until 1907, whereupon Avis practiced alone until his appointment to the bench in 1929.[3]

Avis was a Republican[2] member of the New Jersey General Assembly from 1902 to 1905, serving as the Speaker from 1904 to 1905. He was a New Jersey state senator from 1906 to 1908. In 1912, he attended the Republican National Convention, where he was a delegate for Theodore Roosevelt.[1][3]

Avis was a federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Avis was nominated by President Herbert Hoover on September 9, 1929, to a seat vacated by Joseph L. Bodine, who had joined the New Jersey Supreme Court. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 2, 1929, and received his commission the same day. Avis served in the courthouse in Camden, New Jersey,[4] until his death on January 21, 1944, after an illness of two months. Among his most famous cases was the sentencing of Skinny D'Amato's guilty plea, and ruling on the authorship of the "Old 97" ballad, a decision eventually reversed by the Third Circuit.


  1. ^ a b c Sackett, William Edgar; John James Scannell (1917). Scannell's New Jersey first citizens. J.J. Scannell. pp. 20–21. 
  2. ^ a b Lundy, F.L.; Thomas F. Fitzgerald; Louis C. Gosson; Josephine A. Fitzgerald; John P. Dullard (1905). Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey. pp. 314–315. 
  3. ^ a b c d Keasbey, Edward Quinton (1912). The courts and lawyers of New Jersey 1661-1912. 3. Lewis Historical Pub. Co. 
  4. ^ Lender, Mark Edward (2006). "This honorable court": the United States District Court for the district of New Jersey, 1789-2000. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3804-1. 


Legal offices
Preceded by
Joseph Lamb Bodine
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
October 2, 1929 – January 21, 1944
Succeeded by
Thomas M. Madden