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UNH Recognizes John T. Downey for his Remarkable Public Service

Release Date:
7/29/2014 9:00 AM

July 29, 2014

John T. Downey, features John T. Downey

WEST HAVEN, CONN. -- The Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences at the University of New Haven has recognized Judge John T. Downey for his remarkable service to his country and his work with juveniles in New Haven.

“Judge Downey’s service to the New Haven community, the State of Connecticut and the nation is legendary,” said Mario Gaboury, dean of the Lee College. “John is truly an American hero and a role model both for our faculty and our students. He has often visited UNH to share his knowledge, and we deeply appreciate that.”

Downey, who retired in 2002 as the chief administrative judge for juvenile matters, graduated from Yale in 1952. The following November, while working for the Central Intelligence Agency, his plane was shot down over China.  He was held captive for 21 years and released in March 1973, a year after President Richard Nixon’s historic trip to China. Downey then attended Harvard Law School and became a judge.

Downey has been honored in a number of ways. The New Haven, Connecticut Juvenile Matters Courthouse and Detention Center was named for him following his retirement. He was also recognized by the Connecticut Bar Association, which awarded Downey its highest honor for a judge, the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award, for outstanding contributions to the judicial field in Connecticut. Downey was also recognized by the CIA.  In 1998, he was awarded the director’s medal, and in 2013, he was presented with the Distinguished Intelligence Cross.

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 the university enrolls approximately 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates.