COVID-19 Takes the Life of Kevin Thomas Duffy, 87, Former Manhattan Federal Judge

On Wednesday a prominent former Manhattan federal judge, Kevin Thomas Duffy, died from COVID-19 at Greenwich Hospital.

He was 87 and was one of three Greenwich residents to lose their lives to the virus this week.

A 96-year-old man and a 101-year-old woman also died as a result of the virus, for a total of 7 patients according to the medical examiner’s office, although not all of the 7 were Greenwich residents.

“It’s a terrible way to go,” said Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo on Wednesday. “Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with the families of those three residents.”

Judge Duffy will be remembered for having presided over a number of well known cases.

He graduated from Fordham Law School in 1958 and worked as Assistant US Attorney in the Southern District from 1958 to 1961.

He was appointed in 1972 by Richard Nixon to a seat on the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, becoming the youngest member of the federal  judiciary at the time.

Early in his career he presided over a complex narcotics caseinvolving organized crime in United States v. Tramunti.

Carmine Tramunti and 30 others were charged with violating federal narcotics laws in a multi million dollar heroin and cocaine distribution ring. Mr. Tramunti, aka “Mr. Gribbs,” a New York mobster who was the reputed boss of the Lucchese crime family, was convicted along with 14 others, and sentenced in 1974 to 15 years in prison.

In 1983 Judge Duffy presided over a five-month trial involving a series of armored car robberies, three murders in Rockland County and the escape from prison of Joanne Chesimard, a leader of the Black Liberation Army. The robberies culminated in a shootout between police and Black Liberation Army members. Two Nyack police officers and a truck driver were killed. Eleven defendants were charged with RICO violations, bank robberies, murders and Chesimard’s escape.

Another high profile case Duffy presided over was the trial of Islamic militant terrorists following the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. That trial led to 13 convictions.

Judge Duffy’s career is detailed in an editorial by John Keenan on The Fordham Law Archive of Scholarship and History website.

When Duffy retired, one of his 65 clerks Shawn Regan shared some of the lessons Duffy had imparted over the years.

“He shares with us lessons he learned personally from mythic and beloved figures of the Mother Court and the Circuit — J. Edward Lumbard, Edward Weinfeld, Henry Werker, Learned Hand himself, and contemporary giants, like John Keenan and Loretta Preska. ‘Know your Judge.’ ‘Be Yourself.’ ‘Those Who Arrive Late, Don’t Care.’ ‘Respect and Learn from Everyone in the Courthouse.’ ‘A Judge is Only as Good as the Lawyers Who Appear Before Him or Her.’ and, my personal favorite, ‘Give Us the Facts, Give Us the Law, Put it in Mother Goose Language.'”