Walter Jay Skinner

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Walter Jay Skinner (September 12, 1927 – May 8, 2005) was a United States federal judge.

Born in Washington, D.C., Skinner received an A.B. from Harvard University in 1948 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1952. He was in private practice in Boston, Massachusetts from 1952 to 1957, and in Scituate, Massachusetts from 1957 to 1963, and was also Scituate's town counsel and an assistant district attorney of Plymouth County, Massachusetts from 1957 to 1963. He was an assistant attorney general/chief of the Massachusetts Criminal Division from 1963 to 1965, thereafter returning to private practice in Boston until 1973.

On October 10, 1973, Skinner was nominated by President Richard Nixon to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts vacated by Anthony Julian. Skinner was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 14, 1973, and received his commission on December 19, 1973.

Skinner is noted for his role in the groundwater contamination case out of Woburn, Massachusetts,[citation needed] which became the basis for the book A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for NonFiction, and the subsequent film of the same name starring John Travolta (in which Skinner was portrayed by John Lithgow). Skinner has been criticized[by whom?] for several controversial rulings he made during the trial, most notably sending questions to the jury that he and the lawyers themselves found too confusing.[citation needed]

He assumed senior status on September 14, 1992, serving in that capacity until his death, in Concord, Massachusetts.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Anthony Julian
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Patti B. Saris