Sad news from the front lines of the coronavirus. Retired Southern District of New York Judge Kevin Duffy passed away from COVID-19 yesterday. He was 87 years old.
Duffy, who served in S.D.N.Y. for 44 years, retired from the bench in 2016 and worked with his son, Kevin Duffy, Jr,. at the Greenwich, Connecticut, firm of Duffy & Staab. The former assistant U.S. attorney and the administrator of the New York regional office of the Securities and Exchange Commission was nominated to the federal bench in 1972 by President Richard Nixon.
At S.D.N.Y., Duffy oversaw a number of prominent trials. In the 1980s, he presided over a trial of several members of the Gambino organized crime family, as well as the federal trial of the infamous Brink’s armed car robbery. He was also the judge assigned the two trials related to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
One of his S.D.N.Y. colleagues, Judge P. Kevin Castel, told the New York Law Journal this about Duffy:
“He’s had some of the most important trials there are,” Castel said. “Yet despite all of this, in 44 years of service to the court, many of us know that at the heart of his greatness were small acts of care and concern for others, particularly at times when they were experiencing a bad period in their life. … John Sprizzo, who was a judge of this court, once said to me that with friends like Kevin Duffy, you don’t need many friends.”
Shawn Regan, a former Duffy clerk and now a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth, had similarly wonderful things to say about the judge:
“On the occasion of his 40th anniversary on the bench, he revealed to an audience the central element of his legendarily brutal law clerk interview process,” Regan said in an email. “He said: ‘It was quite simple, really. I was looking for people who I could have as my friends for the rest of my life.’”
And his son remembered him as “as good as [fathers] get,” saying, “He, quite frankly, was one of my best friends, if not my best friend.”
Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).
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