Philly.com Article 2-5-19
John J. Duffy Jr., 85, of West Chester, a Chester County criminal defense lawyer known as much for his courtroom manner as his efforts to help fellow alcoholics face down their addiction and go on to recovery, died Friday, Feb. 1, of pneumonia at St. Martha’s Manor in Downingtown.
In courtrooms throughout the Philadelphia area, Mr. Duffy was known as a skilled legal tactician and a gifted storyteller who deftly humanized his clients and mesmerized juries with his charm.
“John was a giant of a defense lawyer,” said attorney William H. Lamb of Lamb McErlane in West Chester. “He and I tried many cases against each other. No one had a better touch with juries than John. He leaves a legacy that will not be matched.”
“Gregarious by birthright, Mr. Duffy had a sort of roguish Irish charm to him,” Lamb recalled. “He had that gift of gab that endeared him to juries.”
On more than one occasion, after hearing Mr. Duffy’s opening argument, Lamb thought, “How do I match that?” Lamb would try to snap the jury out of his opponent’s spell by returning “to the facts.”
Mr. Duffy built a reputation as the defense counsel in a string of high-profile murder trials and remained sought after in homicide cases for a half-century ending in 2015. His license plate read “ACQUIT.”
Born in West Philadelphia to John J. Sr. and Jane Bowers Duffy, he was a member of a large Irish American family. He completed St. Thomas More High School, and was a 1959 graduate of La Salle University and a 1962 graduate of Villanova Law School.
In 1964, he went to Mississippi to work against suppression of African American votes at the call of then-U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. As he left Mississippi, Mr. Duffy met the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Click here to read the full Philly.com article.