Justice Frank D. O’Connor was born on December 20, 1909 in Manhattan to an Irish immigrant family and grew up in Queens. He worked as a lifeguard to pay his way at Niagara University, graduating in 1932, then graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1934. In 1948 and again in 1954, he was elected to the State Senate. In 1953, O’Connor defended the wrongly accused Christopher Emanuel Balestrero in a case that formed the basis for Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Wrong Man. In 1957, he was elected Queens District Attorney, a position he held until 1966. As a prosecutor he remained “defense-conscious” (Hevesi). In 1966 he won election as President of the City Council and in that same year ran for governor against Nelson A. Rockefeller.
In 1968, O’Connor left politics to accept a nomination for the State Supreme Court in Queens. He won, and went on to be named an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department by Governor Carey in 1976. In 1977, Justice O’Connor served as chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Preservation of an Elected Judiciary, in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would have State Court of Appeals judges named by the governor rather than elected. He retired in 1986.
Additionally, he served as a lieutenant in the Coast Guard during World War II.
He was married to Mary and had three sons. He died on December 2, 1992 in Flushing, Queens at the age of 82.
Goldstein, Tom. “Proposal to Name Judges is Opposed.” New York Times (1923-Current file): 35. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008). Nov 03 1977. Web. 11 June 2012.
Hevesi, Dennis. “Frank D. OConnor, 82, is Dead; Retired New York Appellate Judge.” New York Times (1923-Current file): D21. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008). Dec 03 1992. Web. 11 June 2012.