The Honorable John T. Downey, former Chief Administrative
Judge for Juvenile Matters, was honored Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2002, during a
ceremony to name the New Haven Juvenile Matters Courthouse and Detention
Center after him.
"Judge Downey devoted time, energy, and talent to improving
Connecticut's juvenile justice system,'' Chief Court Administrator Joseph H.
Pellegrino said. "So it is only fitting that this building bear his name."
The John T. Downey Courthouse is located at 239 Whalley Ave.
in New Haven. Because of space considerations, Wednesday's ceremony was held
in the Jury Assembly room at the New Haven Judicial District Courthouse at
235 Church St., New Haven.
Attorney Edward J. Dolan made welcoming remarks. Chief
Justice William A. Sullivan then officially renamed the Juvenile Courthouse
after Judge Downey. Also speaking were John A. Parese, President of the New
Haven Bar Association, the Honorable Jonathan E. Silbert, Administrative
Judge for the New Haven Judicial District, and Judge Pellegrino.
Judge Pellegrino read a proclamation from Governor John G.
Rowland that declared Sept. 25, 2002, as John T. Downey Day. Judge
Pellegrino also read a letter from Lieutenant Governor M. Jodi Rell.
"Judge Downey has been an exemplary role model for so many
people in our state'scourthouses,'' the Lieutenant Governor wrote. "He has
demonstrated leadership on the bench and beyond, and has proven to many
Connecticut youths that judges can be caring and compassionate. It is
appropriate then that the State of Connecticut adds his name to this
courthouse. The name of Judge John T. Downey will bring a level of trust, a
level of fairness, and a level of understanding to all who enter this
building. His name will continue to be synonymous with justice in
Former Governor William A. O'Neill appointed Judge Downey to
the bench in 1987, and he became Chief Administrative Judge for Juvenile
Matters in 1990. Judge Downey served in that capacity until 1997, when he
elected to take Senior status.
Among the accomplishments of which he is most proud is the
introduction of alternative dispute resolution into the juvenile justice
system. For that effort, Judge Downey in May 1995 received the Robert C.
Zampano Award for Excellence in Mediation.
He is a member of the New Haven County Bar Association and
the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. He is a former
member of the Legislative Task Force on Combating Drug Problems Among
Children and Juveniles, the Connecticut Bar Association Children and Law
Committee, as well as the Committee on Liaison with the State Courts. He
also has served as a member of the Rules Committee of the Superior Court and
was a member of the Advisory Committee to the Office of the Child Advocate.
In 2001, Children in Placement created the John T. Downey Award. The first
recipient of this award was Judge Downey.
Before his appointment to the bench, Judge Downey was in
private practice. He also served as Connecticut's Secretary of Business
Regulation and, for two terms, as Chairperson of the Public Utilities
After graduation from Yale University in 1951, Judge Downey
joined the Central Intelligence Agency. While on a CIA mission over China in
November 1952, his plane was shot down and he was captured. Judge Downey
then spent the next 20 years in Chinese prisons. Between the efforts of
Judge Downey's mother, Mary Downey, and President Richard Nixon, Judge
Downey was released and returned to the United States in 1973. Three years
later, he graduated from Harvard Law School.
In 1998 Judge Downey was awarded the CIA Director's Medal
for his service to his country.
For further information, please contact Rhonda Stearley-Hebert