On Monday, June 17, 2019, the City of Bayonne held a ceremony at a crowded Bayonne Municipal Court naming the courtroom in honor of the late John J. Hughes, who served as Bayonne’s Public Defender. In that capacity, he represented people in the court who could not afford their own attorneys. Mr. Hughes was also widely known in the community as the Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 25 for 47 years until his passing in 2017.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mayor Jimmy Davis called Mr. Hughes “a complete gentleman.” Mayor Davis also thanked the Hughes family for “sharing John” with the community.
City Law Director Jay Coffey described John Hughes as someone who “made a difference in a lot of people’s lives.” Director Coffey also said that Mr. Hughes “always had the right thing to say.” He read from a student essay written by future attorney Walter Schneider. In that essay, the young Schneider described Mr. Hughes as someone who was always “”helping, supplying, serving.”
Municipal Court Judge Frank Carpenter recalled meeting John J. Hughes at Camp Lewis, a Boy Scout camp originally established for Bayonne Scouts. Judge Carpenter recalled meeting regularly with Mr. Hughes before court sessions, when they talked about their families and the University of Notre Dame, of which Mr. Hughes was a proud graduate. Judge Carpenter said John J. Hughes was “everything you want your child to be.”
Bayonne attorney Steve Rose recalled having made a variety of verbal agreements with Mr. Hughes, and said that Mr. Hughes always kept his word.
Former Mayor Leonard P. Kiczek recalled that a brief chat with John J. Hughes grew into a series of organized community discussions about how Bayonne should plan for the twenty-first century. He called John J. Hughes “a moral compass,” “a supremely good attorney,” and “Bayonne’s best.”
Patrick O’Neill, a member of the Bayonne Police Pipes and Drums, played Amazing Grace on the bagpipe in honor of Mr. Hughes.
Then the members of the audience filed around the courtroom to look at the newly installed Hughes memorial plaque at the chamber’s entrance. The plaque includes an image of John Hughes and a description of his accomplishments.
Responding on behalf of Mr. Hughes’s family, his son, John C. Hughes, described the memorial as “a tremendous honor and a testament to his life.”
Director Coffey said that only John J. Hughes “could have filled the courtroom on a rainy Monday afternoon at four o’clock.”