Justice Townsend Scudder was born on July 26, 1865 in Northport, Long Island, a descendant of Captain John Dickinson of the Mayflower. Following an education that spanned England, Germany, France and Italy, he graduated from Columbia Law School in 1888. He was admitted to the bar in 1889 and began practicing law. Scudder then held the position of corporation counsel for Queens County from 1893 until 1899. He was elected to the Fifty-sixth Congress (1899-1901) and the Fifty-eighth Congress (1903-1905).
Scudder served on the State Supreme Court for the Second Judicial District from 1907 until 1920. After an unsuccessful run for the Court of Appeals, he returned to the practice of law. He was State Park Commissioner and Vice President of the Long Island State Park Commission from 1924 until 1927, when Governor Alfred E. Smith appointed him to the Appellate Division, Second Department. That same year, Justice Scudder presided over the notorious Snyder-Gray murder trial, which resulted in death sentences for both defendants. Despite this, he was opposed to capital punishment and often avoided criminal cases by trading with other judges. In 1928, Governor Smith appointed Justice Scudder to investigate sewer contracts in Queens. He retired from the bench in 1936, upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Over his lifetime, he earned more than 1,000 prizes in dog shows. Following a noise complaint from his neighbors in 1939, Scudder had to attain an injunction from the Connecticut Supreme Court allowing him to keep 27 cocker spaniels.
He was married first to Mary Dannat Thayer, with whom he had three children; following her death in 1924, he married Alice McCutcheon Scudder. He died on February 22, 1960 in Greenwich, Connecticut at the age of 95.
"Justice Scudder Quietly Married." New York Times (1923-Current file): 25. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008). Jan 19 1928. Web. 19 June 2012. "Scudder, Townsend (1865-1960)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Web. 19 June 2012. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=S000202.
"Townsend Scudder Dies at 95; Ex-State Supreme Court Justice." New York Times (1923-Current file): 31. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008). Feb 23 1960. Web. 19 June 2012.