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John Joseph Francis Edit Profile

jurist , politician , President

John Joseph Francis, American lawyer. Recipient award meritorious services Rutgers Law Alumni Association; Distinguished Judicial Service award New Jersey Supreme Court, 1978. Member American, New Jersey, Essex County (president 1942-1943) bar associations, Rutgers Law Alumni Association; Club: Bay Head (New Jersey) Yacht, Morristown.


Francis, John Joseph was born on June 19, 1903 in Orange, New Jersey, United States. Son of Theodore Thomas and Mary (Moran) Francis.


Bachelor of Laws, Rutgers University, 1925, Doctor of Laws, 1959. Master of Laws, New York University, 1947. Honorary Doctor of Laws, Seton Hall U., 1979.


He received a law degree from Rutgers University Law School in 1925 and a master's degree in law from New York University Law School in 1947. He was admitted to the bar in 1926. He served as President of the Essex County Bar Association from 1942 to 1943, and as an Associate Editor of The New Jersey Law Journal from 1944 until 1947 and again from 1973 until his death in 1984.

In 1940, Francis became a candidate for the New Jersey General Assembly. Francis was the top vote getter among the Democratic candidates, receiving 136,241 votes. One of his running mates in the 1940 legislative contest was Peter W. Rodino, who would go on to serve 40 years in Congress, 14 of them as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Francis was elected Village Trustee (Councilman) in South Orange, New Jersey in 1942. In 1944, Francis became a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in New Jersey's 11th congressional district. Incumbent Republican Frank L. Sundstrom defeated him by 6,210 votes, 58,586 (5173%) to 52,376 (4625%).

Francis was appointed to serve as an Advisory Master of the Court of Chancery by Chancellor A. Dayton Oliphant in 1947. In 1948, Governor Alfred Driscoll, a Republican, nominated Francis to serve as a Judge of the Essex County Court of Common Pleas. He was elevated to the Appellate Division in 1952.

In 1957, Governor Robert B. Meyner nominated him to serve as an Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. In 1960, Francis wrote a unanimous opinion in Henningsen v. Bloomfield Motors, Inc., where the court ruled that automobile dealers and manufacturers were liable for defective cars despite a standard warranty intended to absolve them.

This was considered a landmark decision in the expansion of product liability manufacturer's liabilities for defective products. He was also the author of a unanimous 1966 decision that the state could not seek the death penalty in the retrial of a convicted murderer who had already received a sentence of life in prison. Among Francis' law clerks was Degnan, who would later serve as Attorney General of New Jersey.

Francis retired in 1972, a year before he turned 70, the mandatory retirement age for Judges in New Jersey. He served as Of Counsel to the law firm of Francis & Berry. Governor Richard J. Hughes appointed him to serve as Chairman of a special State Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct in 1974.

The panel sought to insure the public of the state judicial system's "probity, objectivity and freedom from outside pressure of any kind." He also became an Associate Editor of The New Jersey Law Journal, a job he held in the 1940s. He also served on the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation (SCI). New Jersey General Assembly (1940) 12 Seats Elected At-Large from Essex County.


  • Other Work

    • Associate editor New Jersey Law Jours., 1943-1947, 72-84. Contributor articles professional journals.


Member American, New Jersey, Essex County (president 1942-1943) bar associations, Rutgers Law Alumni Association. Club: Bay Head (New Jersey) Yacht, Morristown.


Married Penelope Connolly, December 26, 1933. Children: John Jay, Cynthia, Hugh.

Theodore Thomas Francis

Mary (Moran) Francis

Penelope Connolly

John Jay Francis

Cynthia Francis

Hugh Francis