Nov. 02, 2020

Remembering John R. Dunne 1930 - 2020

Remembering John R. Dunne 1930 - 2020

Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP sadly announces the passing of John R. Dunne, Senior Counsel.  For more than 25 years, John was our colleague, our mentor and our friend who added to the integrity and the culture of our Firm.

Throughout his legal and political career, John was the consummate professional, filled with both a love of the law and compassion for those who were most affected by its application.  He brought the best out in all of us and humbly served as an inspiration for any woman or man lucky enough to find themself in his orbit.

Prior to joining the Firm, John had a long and distinguished career in a variety of federal, State, and local government positions.   For 23 years, John was a member of the New York State Senate (1966 to 1989), where he served as Deputy Majority Leader (1987-1988), Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Chair of the Insurance Committee, and Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Crime and Corrections.  During his tenure he was an advocate for the merit selection of judges and court restructuring, and he sponsored legislation that resulted in amending the State Constitution to create an appointive system for Court of Appeals judges and establish the Commission on Judicial Conduct.  From 1990 until 1993, John was the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under President George H. W. Bush, where he was in charge of the enforcement of all federal civil rights laws.  As a private citizen, John served as Chair of the New York State Capital Defender Office, Chair of the Task Force on the Future of Probation; a member of the Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense Services; a director of Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York; and a director of the State Office of Indigent Legal Services.  John was instrumental in addressing prisoner reform issues, particularly after his involvement in the Attica prison riots in 1971.

Throughout his long career, John received numerous awards, most notably, in 2006, he received the New York State Bar Association’s Gold Medal Award, the Association’s highest recognition for service to the Bar and the community. In 2010, he was awarded the Fund for Modern Courts’ Career Public Service Award and the U.S. Department of Justice created the John R. Dunne Award, recognizing professionals who have furthered the cause of civil rights through non-litigation activities.

Our Firm was very fortunate that John chose to spend the last portion of a very meaningful career among us. His grace and intelligence were profound, leaving imprints here and in the world around him.