Justice Edward Spain, Class of 1966, recently retired from the Appellate Division, Third Department, hanging up his robes after a nearly 50-year legal career, including 36 years on the bench, and hundreds of written opinions. His time on the bench spanned six presidents and six state governors.
After graduating from Albany Law School, Justice Spain entered private practice with his father in his hometown of Troy, N.Y. Early in his career, he served as deputy clerk of Rensselaer County Surrogate's Court, assistant district attorney for Rensselaer County, and deputy counsel for the City of Troy. He also served in the U.S. Navy and Judge Advocate General's Corps.
"You can always tell a Spain decision because of its
length, and I mean that in a positive way. He explains everything. He
answers everything. You may not like it, but everything will be very
In 1977, Justice Spain was elected to the City of Troy Police Court, and in 1985 he was elected to Rensselaer County Family Court. He was elected to the state Supreme Court in 1991 and appointed administrative judge for the Third Judicial District in 1994.
Professor Michael Hutter, in a New York Law Journal story on Justice Spain’s retirement, said that the Third Department "loses a guy who has incredible breadth of experience, a judge who can put cases in perspective…. He just has a sense of the law and how it all fits together."
Professor Hutter added, "You can always tell a Spain decision because of its length, and I mean that in a positive way. He explains everything. He answers everything. You may not like it, but everything will be very well reasoned."
While at Albany Law School in the '60s, Justice Spain played semi-professional hockey with the nearby Averill Park Lancers. He also played hockey at his undergraduate institution, Boston College.