TOWN OF POUGHKEEPSIE: Gerald Hayes, a retired judge from Dutchess County Court, passed away on Saturday while holding hands with Sheila Hayes, his 56-year wife.
Throughout his illustrious judicial career, Judge Hayes was renowned for fighting injustice. Family members claim that for the last three years, he had battled lymphocytic leukemia with equal tenacity.
Judge Hayes enjoyed a high degree of respect in the Hudson Valley’s legal and political circles, particularly in his home county of Dutchess County. With the intention of becoming a priest, the 82-year-old Hayes completed his undergraduate studies at St. Anthony’s, a Capuchin Franciscan college and friary in New Hampshire. After graduating from college, he decided to pursue a legal career.
After graduating from Fordham Law School in 1968 with a Juris Doctor, he worked as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan for thirty years, serving under the renowned New York County DA Frank Hogan. Similar to Hogan, Hayes was regarded as a man of integrity and professionalism.
Albert Rosenblatt, the then-DA of Dutchess County, who later rose to the rank of judge on the New York State Appellate Court, recruited Hayes as an assistant district attorney in 1971. Hayes would frequently call Rosenblatt his mentor and buddy.
After entering private practice in 1980, Hayes focused mostly on criminal defense. However, he also took advantage of the chance to defend the rights of those in need and worked as a part-time assistant public defender in Dutchess County. For the following 20 years, he made a name for himself in those capacities.
Judge Hayes had an influence on Anthony Parisi, the newly elected Dutchess County DA, in the public defender’s office.When I first began practicing law, I had the honor of working with Jerry Hayes at the public defender’s office, Parisi said. After leaving to work as an associate district attorney, Parisi appeared before Hayes, who was named Dutchess County Court Judge by Governor George Pataki in May 2000. He was a brilliant legal mind who was dedicated to justice and public service. He possessed all the traits of a great judge, including fairness and respect for everybody. Both our community and the family he loved so much have suffered a great loss with this. We shall miss him terribly.
Judge Hayes was appointed by Pataki, and he went on to win the election and retain the position until he decided not to run for reelection in 2010. As Todd Bender of Mid-Hudson News put it, “If you spent more than five minutes with Judge Hayes, you knew that he enjoyed his time on the bench more than any other aspect of his amazing legal career.”
After he was elected legislature chairman, state senator Rob Rolison recalled that Judge Hayes had reached out to him and offered his help.Rolison said that Hayes was a friend and advisor to his late father, Senator Jay Rolison, and that he was fair and thorough in his decision-making as well as always available when you needed advise and counsel. Above all, Rolison said, he was my friend.
He remained an active member of the Dutchess County Bar Association, served on the Dutchess County Criminal Justice Council, and welcomed the chance to continue teaching other attorneys who came to him for advice when he retired at the end of 2010. Because of his commitment to giving back to the community, he was also appointed to the Dutchess County Board of Ethics in 2019.
Speaking about the demise of his former colleague, retired Dutchess County Court judicial Peter Forman referred to him as a “judge s judge.” In addition to having a sharp legal mind—particularly in the area of criminal law—the colleague county court judge noted that Hayes brought a modest manner to the bench throughout his ten years there. All of the people who stood before Judge Hayes respected him, and so did those of us who were fortunate enough to serve with him. Justice was always tempered by compassion from him. Jerry was a wonderful friend who cherished his marriage to Sheila and their family beyond all else. Michael Hayes, the current judge of the Dutchess County Surrogate Court, is one of the six children raised by Judge Hayes and his widow. Jerry Hayes and his spouse also relished the amusement of raising thirteen grandkids, which brought them much joy.
Hayes was well respected by Dutchess County Court Judge Edward McLoughlin.Judge Hayes possessed the ideal disposition for a judge. He was a man of strength on the bench, but he also had the guts to show mercy. The legal community has lost an exceptional thinker. McLoughlin has also chosen to become an adjunct professor, following in Judge Hayes’ footsteps. Hayes was a criminal law instructor at Marist; McLoughlin carries on the legacy. Hayes lectured on criminal law throughout the state and taught at SUNY Dutchess as well.
Lisa Hartley, a Poughkeepsie lawyer, was also a fan of Judge Hayes.To a great many of us in the legal profession, he was many things. Judge Hayes was a passionate advocate and a very intelligent legal scholar. In addition, he was incredibly generous, modest, and kind. He would gladly provide his vast experience and time to inexperienced lawyers or anyone else who wanted to ask him questions. After assuming the bench, he remained the same and was always the first to offer a kind hello and a wide smile to a colleague.
Calling hours will take place at the William G. Miller & Son Funeral Home in Poughkeepsie on Friday, February 2 from 4 to 8 p.m. On Saturday, February 3 at 10 a.m., there will be a funeral liturgy at St. Martin de Porres Church in Poughkeepsie. Following the mass, there will be an immediate burial in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery.