“John was as solid as they come,” said a close colleague of John R. Nuchereno. “He worked very hard to learn and understand the legal issues surrounding mental illness in so many of the cases he took on. And then he willingly shared his knowledge with other lawyers and law students. He focused on providing the best, most professional help for the client.”
It was near his life’s end that Nuchereno agreed to become the first leader of the Advocacy Institute’s Innocence and Justice Project, in which a select group of second- and third-year law students work to identify cases in which there is strong evidence of a miscarriage of justice and, as student attorneys, press the case for redress.
That important work continues under the leadership of Gary J. Muldoon ’76 and Jon P. Getz ’92. Following Nuchereno’s passing on Feb. 3, 2016, from complications of leukemia treatment, his admirers are making sure that his legacy will continue to build.
A newly established memorial fund is welcoming contributions that will help to support the work of the Innocence and Justice Project, covering expenses such as travel costs and filing fees for the students involved. The John R. Nuchereno Memorial Fund for the Innocence and Justice Project will also honor the memory of a practitioner well-known as a litigator in some of the most difficult cases in Western New York, and a teacher who as an adjunct professor was one of the School of Law’s most popular.
“John believed that good teachers can change lives,” said his spouse and law partner, Catherine Nagel ’98, in posthumously accepting for him the Ken Joyce Excellence in Teaching Award at this year’s Commencement ceremonies. “He knew what was right and he never backed down from a challenge, drawing a line in the sand before every opening argument and before every class.”
Born and raised in Buffalo, Nuchereno served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and later as the enlisted aide to the commanding general of the Green Berets. He earned his bachelor’s degree at UB and his law degree from Louisiana State University School of Law in 1977. He served as defense attorney in more than 50 jury homicide trials.