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James Thomas Foley (b. July 9, 1910, in Troy, NY, d. August 17, 1990, in Albany, NY) was a federal judge for the U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York. Judge Foley graduated from Fordham College with an A.B. in 1931 and Albany Law School with an LL.B. in 1934. He was nominated to the court by Harry S Truman on February 13, 1949, to a seat vacated by Edward S. Kampf, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 31, 1949, and received his commission on February 2, 1949. He served as chief judge from 1963 to 1980. He assumed senior status on June 30, 1980 and his service terminated on August 17, 1990, due to death.

Nomination

Judge Foley's father was a good friend of Albany, NY Political Boss Dan O'Connell. O'Connell was an avid fan of cockfighting, and raised chickens on his property throughout his lifetime for that purpose. Foley's Bar in Troy regularly held cockfights, and O'Connell and the elder Foley became friends as a result.

In 1948, President Harry Truman's prospects of re-election seemed dim. Although Truman ultimately won the election, he lost New York to Thomas Dewey, who had served as the State's governor. However, Truman defeated Dewey overwhelmingly in Albany and the surrounding area. Dewey had specifically referenced the O'Connell Machine as an example of corruption that he would fix as Governor. Dewey failed in every attempt to destroy the Machine, and incurred the wrath of voters sympathetic to O'Connell, especially politically-minded Irish Catholics. Truman, being fully aware of these facts, was extremely grateful that the O'Connell machine had delivered such a substantial margin of victory in Governor Dewey's own Capital, contacted O'Connell after his victory, and as an expression of gratitude, offered a favor to O'Connell. O'Connell suggested that Truman appoint James T. Foley, his friend's son, who had briefly served as an attorney and then served as an officer during World War II as a Federal Judge for the Northern District of New York. Truman agreed, and Foley became one of the youngest-appointed, and longest serving Federal Judges in United States history.

Sources

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