Justice John P. Cohalan Jr., born in 1907, was raised in New York City and educated at LaSalle Military Academy in Oakdale, Manhattan College and Fordham University School of Law. He was admitted to the Bar in 1935. In 1940, Cohalan began working as an assistant State Attorney General. He served as Islip Town Attorney from 1952 until 1956, when he was appointed Islip Town Supervisor. In 1957, he was elected as Suffolk County District Attorney.
Cohalan joined the bench in 1962, winning election to the Suffolk County Court and then to the State Supreme Court in the following year. On January 9, 1974, Gov. Malcolm Wilson designated him to the Appellate Division, Second Department. In 1975, as a member of the State Court on the Judiciary, a special disciplinary court, he ruled on the case of State Supreme Court Justice Wilfred A. Waltemade, the first judge to face removal entirely on the basis of unjudicial courtroom conduct.
Following his retirement in 1983, he continued to write on legal topics and his poetry was published in a Sayville, Long Island newspaper.
Cohalan had a son, Peter F. Cohalan, who also became a justice of the State Supreme Court, a daughter, Sheila, and four grandchildren. He died on March 30, 1988 in Sayville at the age of 80.
"Court Asked Not to Take Waltemade from Bench." New York Times (1923-Current file): 33. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2007). Nov 01 1975. Web. 30 Sep. 2011 http://search.proquest.com/docview/120265951?accountid=8012.
"John P. Cohalan, 80, Ex-Justice and Suffolk County Official, Dies." New York Times (1923-Current file): 10. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2007). Apr 02 1988. Web. 24 Aug. 2011 http://search.proquest.com/docview/110555129?accountid=8012.
"John P. Cohalan Jr." Biographical information sheets. Appellate Division, Second Department Library, Brooklyn.