In the News

Brooklyn memories:
St. Patrick’s Day, 40 years ago

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The O’Hara chronicle — a look back at the weirdest prosecution in Brooklyn history
The Brooklyn Paper

Lawyer convicted of illegal votes revives bid for pardon
New York Law Journal

Susan B. Anthony revisited: former Judge Eileen Nadelson represents O'Hara in new pardon bid to Gov. Cuomo

Meet the New Boss: Man vs. Machine Politics in Brooklyn
Harper's Magazine (PDF)

In Brooklyn, Prosecutor's Race is a Grudge Match
New York Times

Pardon him, Governo
New York Daily News
Dec. 21, 2009

Rumble In Brooklyn: John O'Hara vs. Charles Hynes
(New York Press cover)

Begging Spitzer's Pardon
City Halll News
Dec. 10, 2007

Committee on Character and Fitness Final Report

O'Hara vs. Hynes: The Case Against the Lawless D.A.
New York Press

Harper's Report: Hynes Did Crime; O'Hara Did Time
The Brooklyn Papers

Governor Pardons Hip-Hop Pioneer
New York Times

Convicted of Voting Violation, O'Hara Appeals to Governor
New York Sun

Hope for Busted Voter
New York Daily News

Courting Trouble
New Zealand Herald

The Slave Auction and the End of the Kung-Fu Judge
Brooklyn Rail

Pol Pleads: Pardon Me – I Only Voted!
New York Daily News

New York Man Fights Illegal Voting Conviction
Boston Globe

Our Courts' Dirtly Little Secret
by John O'Hara
Room Eight
March 31, 2010


Brooklyn memories: St. Patrick’s Day,
40 years ago
Paul O’Dwyer, John O’Hara and NYC politics, back in the day

March 17, 2015

by Mary Frost
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

A photo taken during Brooklyn’s first St. Patrick’s Day Parade, 40 years ago in Park Slope, brings back a bundle of memories for Brooklyn attorney John O’Hara.

In the photo, O’Hara, left, immersed in politics even as a young teen, stands next to his mentor, storied Irish-American City Council President Paul O’Dwyer. The man in the background to the right is then-Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin.

O’Dwyer, president of the New York City Council and a celebrated progressive, successfully fought for controversial defendants and underdogs, including Jewish Americans prosecuted for smuggling arms to Israel, labor unions and black civil rights activists. He was born the youngest of 11 children in County Mayo, Ireland.

“I was 14 years old in this picture. It was 1975,” O’Hara told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday. “I knew O'Dwyer from his 1973 campaign for City Council President. Me and a bunch of other guys opened a campaign headquarters, which was a storefront in Sunset Park on 5th Avenue between 62nd and 63rd streets.

“It was a much simpler time. Storefronts were cheap and nobody heard of a campaign consultant,” O’Hara reminisced. “The campaign headquarters didn't even have a telephone. A bar across the street named Molloy's had a phone booth. A guy at Molloy's worked for the phone company and he rigged the payphone so you didn’t have to put a dime in it -- it was free calls. We thought we died and went to heaven.

“The free payphone was the best kept secret in the neighborhood,” he said. “It was where the poor Irish went to make their calls. Today you'd get life without parole for that,” he said.

“When I ran for City Council in 1991, I called Paul O'Dwyer to invite him to my fundraiser,” O’Hara said. “I hadn't spoken to him since his run for U.S. Senate in 1976. He picked up the phone and started talking to me like we had breakfast that day. He came to my fundraiser with his son Brian.”

O’Hara added, “Paul was a great man.”

Goldin, a former NYS senator, served as comptroller from 1974 to 1989. (He is currently a managing director of Goldin Associates.)

At first glance at the photo, Goldin appears to be talking on his cell phone.

“No, he was not on his cell phone,” O’Hara clarifies. “Back then nobody even heard of a fax machine.” Closer scrutiny appears to show a cigarette in his hand.