News Article

Connecticut observing Half Staff.

Return to Listings

Monday, November 17, 2014

(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy is directing U.S. and Connecticut flags to half-staff in memory of the Honorable John T. Downey, a Connecticut judge who passed away early this morning.

"Judge Downey was a remarkable man who not only served this state's judicial system with distinction, but also served his country with honor, risking his life and enduring two decades of hardship as a Cold War prisoner in China," Governor Malloy said. "He has a clear reputation in Connecticut as a caring and compassionate leader, who to this day continues to be a role model for so many in our state. He is leaving a lasting legacy in Connecticut. I join his family and friends, including his wife Audrey and his son Jack, and all those who served alongside him in celebrating his remarkable life and honoring his memory."

Judge Downey was appointed to the bench in 1987 by Governor William A. O'Neill, and he became Chief Administrative Judge for Juvenile Matters in 1990. He served in that capacity until 1997, when he elected to take senior status.

After graduating from Yale University in 1951, Judge Downey joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). While on a CIA mission over China in November 1952, his plane was shot down and he was captured. He subsequently spent the next 20 years in Chinese prisons as a Cold War prisoner, becoming the longest held captive in American history. Between the efforts of Judge Downey's mother, Mary Downey, and President Richard Nixon, Judge Downey was released and returned to the United States in 1973. Three years later, he graduated from Harvard Law School.

In 2013, Judge Downey received the CIA's Distinguished Intelligence Cross, the agency's highest honor of valor.

Flags will remain at half-staff until services for Judge Downey are held, the date of which has not yet been determined.