John R. Dunne

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John R. Dunne
Member of the New York Senate
from the 6th district
In office
Preceded byNorman F. Lent
Succeeded byKemp Hannon
Assistant United States Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division
In office
PresidentGeorge H.W. Bush
Preceded byJames P. Turner
Succeeded byDeval Patrick
Personal details
Born (1930-01-28) January 28, 1930 (age 88)
Baldwin, New York
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Denise Dunne
ResidenceGarden City, New York, Columbia County, New York
Alma materGeorgetown University
Yale Law School
WebsiteWhiteman Osterman & Hanna

John Richard Dunne (born January 28, 1930 in Baldwin, New York) is a Republican politician and lawyer from Long Island, New York. Dunne was a major figure in New York Republican politics in the second half of the 20th century. He is best remembered for his twenty-three years in the State Senate and his involvement in the Attica prison riots.

Dunne attended Garden City High School. He graduated from Georgetown University in 1951, and received his law degree from Yale Law School in 1954. He married Denise in 1958 and has four children. Today, Dunne resides in Garden City and Columbia County. He is senior counsel at the Albany law firm of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna. He is also a director of several corporations.

In the State Senate[edit]

Dunne was a member of the New York State Senate from 1966 to 1989, sitting in the 176th, 177th, 178th, 179th, 180th, 181st, 182nd, 183rd, 184th, 185th, 186th, 187th and 188th New York State Legislatures.

Dunne served as Deputy Majority Leader, as well as chairman or ranking member of six committees. Numerous Republican public figures from Long Island served on Dunne's staff, including Michael Balboni.

Dunne was a major figure in the Attica prison riots of 1971. At the time, Dunne was chairman of the Senate Corrections Committee, which oversees the prison system. At one dramatic moment during the riot, Dunne entered the prison with New York Times editor Tom Wicker and Assemblyman Arthur Eve to negotiate with the prisoners. He strongly criticized Governor Nelson Rockefeller for the latter's actions, including a refusal to visit the prison, and argued that the prison standoff could have ended without bloodshed if state officials had acted differently.

Dunne was an original sponsor of the Rockefeller drug laws in 1973, but by the 2000s argued for major changes in New York drug laws. Dunne sponsored the New York law that protects the confidentiality of tests for HIV/AIDS.

He was regularly mentioned as a possible candidate for other offices, including statewide offices. In 1977, he sought the Republican nomination for Nassau County Executive, but lost the primary election.

He resigned his seat in September 1989.[1] Dunne's papers from his days in the Senate are archived at the New York State Modern Political Archive at the University at Albany.

George H. W. Bush administration and later legal career[edit]

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush nominated Dunne to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. His appointment was supported by members of both parties, including Mario Cuomo, Charles Rangel and Richard Thornburgh.

After serving at the Justice Department, Dunne became a partner in the firm of Rivkin Radler LLP, then known as Rivkin, Radler, Dunne & Bayh.

He was recognized several times for his contribution to the law in New York State, earning the New York State Bar Association's Gold Medal Award in 2006, among other awards. In 2003, the New York State Bar Foundation named its fund for legal services for indigent persons after Dunne.

In 2006, Dunne was appointed chairman of a task force charged with reforming the state probation system.

2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis[edit]

On June 20, 2009, Governor David Paterson asked Dunne and former Lieutenant Governor Stan Lundine to serve as special mediators to resolve the 2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Influential L.I. Senator Quits in the New York Times on August 10, 1989
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Seymour R. Thaler
New York State Senate
7th District

Succeeded by
Norman F. Lent
Preceded by
Norman F. Lent
New York State Senate
6th District

Succeeded by
Kemp Hannon