John Boyd Avis

John Boyd Avis

Title: District Court
Appointed by: Herbert C. Hoover
Judicial Tenure: 1929 - 1944
Born: July 11, 1875
Birth Place: Deerfield, NJ
Died: January 21, 1944

Avis was born in Deerfield, New Jersey, the son of a New Jersey assemblyman, and the great-great grandson of a Revolutionary War soldier who had fought at Valley Forge. He read law from 1890 to 1894 with John S. Mitchell and from 1897 to 1898 with David O. Watkins in Woodbury, New Jersey.

In 1900, he became a partner of Watkins, and the partnership lasted until 1907, whereupon Avis practiced alone until his appointment to the bench in 1929.

Avis was a Republican member of the New Jersey General Assembly from 1902 to 1905, serving as the Speaker from 1904 to 1905. He was a New Jersey state senator from 1906 to 1908. In 1912, he attended the Republican National Convention, where he was a delegate for Theodore Roosevelt.

Avis was a federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Avis was nominated by President Herbert Hoover on September 9, 1929, Among his most famous cases was the sentencing of Skinny D'Amato's guilty plea, and ruling on the authorship of the 'Old 97' ballad, a decision eventually reversed by the Third Circuit. Avis served in the courthouse in Camden, New Jersey until his death on January 21, 1944, after an illness of two months.

Professional Career

  • Private practice, Woodbury, New Jersey, 1898-1929
  • State assemblyman, New Jersey, 1902-1905
  • speaker, 1904-1905
  • State senator, New Jersey, 1906-1908


  • Read law, 1897

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