Justice John B. Johnston was born on July 10, 1882 in Glasgow, Scotland. His family immigrated to Brooklyn in 1886. He attended Brooklyn Commercial High School and New York Law School, graduating in 1911. Johnston practiced law with W. Bourke Cockran and future United States Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Martin T. Manton. From 1919 until 1921 he served on the Sixty-sixth Congress as a Democrat and in 1920 and 1924 he was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions.
Johnston was nominated to the Second District of the New York Supreme Court in 1927. He was named to the Appellate Division, Second Department in 1935 by Governor Herbert H. Lehman, and re-designated twice by Governor Thomas E. Dewey. Justice Johnston retired from the bench in 1952. From 1953 until 1955 he served as an official referee of the Supreme Court, and thereafter as State Administrator of the Judicial Conference.
He was a member of the American, New York City, and Brooklyn Bar Associations, the New York County Lawyers' Association and several clubs.
He married Helen Connolly and following her death in 1947, married Ann K. Ottens Ebinger in 1952. He had a son and four grandchildren. He died on January 11, 1960 in Brooklyn at the age of 77.
"Democrats Name Scudder for Bench." New York Times (1923-Current file): 2. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2007). Oct 02 1927. Web. 2 Feb. 2012.
"Former Justice John Johnston of State Supreme Court Dies." New York Times (1923-Current file): 47. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2007). Jan 13 1960. Web. 2 Feb. 2012.
"Johnston, John Brown - Biographical Information." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Web. 3 Feb. 2012. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=J000190
"Mrs. Ann Ebinger Wed." New York Times (1923-Current file): 27. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2007). Jun 20 1952. Web. 2 Feb. 2012.