An innovative Buffalo jurist has been named to receive the 2021 Edwin F. Jaeckle Award, the highest honor bestowed by UB School of Law and the Law Alumni Association.
Hon. Hugh B. Scott ’74 will accept the award in the early part of 2021 at a virtual ceremony, with the exact date of the event to be determined.
The Jaeckle Award is given annually to a person who exemplifies the highest ideals of the School of Law and Law Alumni Association and who has made significant contributions to the school and the legal profession. It is named for Edwin F. Jaeckle, Class of 1915, a founding partner of the former Buffalo law firm Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel, and a major benefactor of the school.
Judge Scott has spent more than three decades on the bench, stepping down as an active U.S. magistrate judge in 2015. The first African American to serve as a federal judge in the Western District of New York, he continues in semi-retirement to hear a reduced caseload.
Judge Scott began his legal career as an assistant county attorney with the Erie County Law Department and later joined the Buffalo Law Department as an assistant corporation counsel. He then served as the first African American assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York.
In 1979, Judge Scott joined the state attorney general’s Buffalo Office as deputy assistant attorney general-in-charge of claims and litigation. He went on to become assistant attorney general-in-charge of the Buffalo regional office of the New York State Department of Law. He was the first African American to head the second largest regional office in the State of New York.
His judicial career began when he ran for Buffalo City Court judge in 1984 and was elected to a 10-year term, then re-elected in 1994. He left that position in 1995 to ascend to the federal bench.
A longtime champion of equal access to the justice system, Judge Scott created the U.S. District Court’s Re-entry Court, in which convicted defendants who have served their sentence receive job training, legal assistance, and other help to ease their transition back into society. The effort involves multiple stakeholders, including representatives from the federal Probation Service, the public defender’s office, Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Erie Community College.
Defendants who complete the program have the term of their supervised release reduced by one year. “It costs $50,000 a year to have them in prison, when you could be spending pennies to help them change their life,” he has said.
Judge Scott has served as a role model and mentor for countless law students and practitioners. He has held numerous leadership roles in Buffalo community organizations, including Niagara University, Canisius College, Buffalo Urban League, the New York State Judicial Task Force on Domestic Violence, Sisters of Charity Hospital, the National Federation for Just Communities of WNY, and many more.
He is an emeritus member of the Dean’s Advisory Council and has also served UB Law as an adjunct professor, teaching trial technique courses for both the J.D. program and the criminal law and general Master of Laws programs. He presided over the first federal court trial held in the law school's Francis M. Letro Courtroom.
“Judge Scott exemplifies what the Jaeckle Award represents – excellence, integrity and dedication to serving the profession and the community,” says Dean Aviva Abramovsky. “It is our honor to recognize his extraordinary career and contributions.”
Details regarding the awards presentation will be announced soon.