Thursday, March 28, 2024

The Honorable CRAIG D. HANNAH, was elevated to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department in March 2024 by Governor Kathy C. Hochul. He was appointed to the New York Supreme Court by Governor Hochul in June 2022. In November 2022, Justice Hannah was elected to a full 14-year term. He is the former Chief Judge of the Buffalo City Court and Supervising Judge of the 11 City Courts in the Eighth Judicial District encompassing Western New York. Justice Hannah has risen to national fame as the presiding judge of the first Opioid Intervention Court in the United States, established in May 2017. He has been featured in such major media publications as the New York Times, NBC News, MSNBC, Denver Post and HBO Vice News; and has lectured in Dublin, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C. and several other cities on treatment courts and breaking the shame and stigma of addiction. He proudly professes 23 years of clean time and tells participants that the only difference between them is [clean] “time”.

Justice Hannah began serving on the Bench in January 2006 upon being appointed by Mayor Byron Brown as a Buffalo City Court Judge. In November 2006, he was elected to this seat with close to 80% of the vote. He was appointed an Acting Erie County Court Judge in 2008 where he primarily handled juvenile matters. In November 2016, he was re-elected to a second 10-year term, followed by his appointment to preside over the Adolescent Diversion and Opiate Intervention Parts. He served as the Supervising Judge over the Lackawanna, Tonawanda, and North Tonawanda City Courts. This made him the first Supervising Judge of Color in the history of Western New York. In May 2019, Justice Hannah was appointed the Chief Judge of the Buffalo City Court and was elected to the seat in November 2019. He also became the Supervising Judge of the 11 City Courts in Western New York’s Eighth Judicial District. In addition, he was the co-instructor/lecturer for the City of Buffalo Youth Court.

Justice Hannah has served is an Adjunct Professor at the State University at Buffalo Law School where he lectured in Trial Advocacy and Procedure, as well as a former Adjunct Professor at Medaille College where he lectured in Criminal Justice and Criminal Procedure. He is a member of the prestigious Franklin H. Williams’ Judicial Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness.

A graduate of Canisius College and the University at Buffalo Law School, Justice Hannah began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Erie County District Attorney’s Office. As an ADA, he was assigned to the Buffalo City Court and the Grand Jury Bureaus. Further demonstrating his commitment to public service, he joined the City of Buffalo Law Department in 1999. For five years, he served with distinction as one of the City’s chief litigators in the Corporation Counsel’s Office and later served as legal counsel to then New York State Senator Byron Brown. Previously, he was an attorney in private practice with close to 10 years of experience as a trial lawyer in our City, State and Federal Courts. His practice was concentrated primarily in the areas of personal injury and criminal defense litigation.

Justice Hannah’s honors and achievements are numerous. He is active in several community organizations and was recognized in Business First’s Who’s Who in Law in 2002 and 2003. In 2004, he was elected to serve a Vice Chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee. He was bestowed with the honor of ‘Jurist of the Year’ by the Buffalo Special Police Benevolent Association in 2008 and the Community Service award by the Afro-American Police Association in 2013. In 2016, Justice Hannah was awarded the Legal Service/Lifetime Achievement Award from Medaille College and the Distinguished Alumni Award from City Honors School. In 2017, he was bestowed with the Community Service Award by the Westside Business & Taxpayers’ Association and the “Pay It Forward” Award by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo (C.G.L.I.). He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Hilbert College and was awarded its highest honor: The President’s Medal in 2018.

Justice Hannah is a past president of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York and the recipient of its Legal Service Award. He is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Committee of the University at Buffalo Law School and a former Vice President of its Alumni Association. In May 2018, he was the recipient of the Law School’s Distinguished Alumni Award and the Outstanding Jurist Award by the Bar Association of Erie County. Also, Justice Hannah was awarded the Outstanding Jurist Award by the New York State Bar Association, Criminal Division in 2018. In May 2019, he was awarded the Distinguished Jurist/Alumni Award by University at Buffalo Law Review. In January 2020, he was bestowed the Transformative Leadership Award by the City of Buffalo for his positive contribution to the community and enhancing the image of Buffalo.

Justice Hannah is the Chairman of nominating committee of the City of Buffalo Ethics Commission and a board member of Buffalo Prep, the Buffalo Police Athletic League and the Bar Association of Erie County’s Aid to Indigent Prisoners. He is also the President of the Board of Directors of the Community Action Organization of Western New York and serves on the National Judicial Opioid Task Force and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Justice Hannah is active is several civic and fraternal organizations; a proud life member of the Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc., the Sigma Pi Phi, Fraternity, Inc. (Alpha Kappa Boulé) and a subscribing Gold Life Member of the NAACP. Craig Hannah is the Co-Director of the City Kids at Camp Youth Initiative. Along with Businessman Chris Del Prince and several Buffalo Police Officers, City Kids at Camp takes several inner-city kids camping every summer. The purpose is to take these young people outside of their element to expose them to other ideas and cultures; and to teach them leadership and survival skills.

Justice Hannah is a native of Western New York, a proud graduate of City Honors High School, and he enjoys reading and traveling, with his wife Angela, in his spare time. They are proud parents of Taylor Marie Hannah who is a student at the University of Buffalo.

Media Inquiries

Please direct all media inquiries to the Clerk of the Court:​

Ann Dillon Flynn, Esq.
M. Dolores Denman Courthouse
50 East Avenue, Suite 200
Rochester, NY 14604

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The Supreme Court of the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department hears appeals from the state's trial courts located in the 22 Central and Western New York counties assigned to the Fifth, Seventh, and Eighth Judicial Districts. More »

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