About Jerome L Wilson

Jerome Wilson’s career has been a mix of politics, journalism and the law, as well as a sometime author of poetry and the author of local news artivcles.

After serving as a lieutenant in the United States Air Force, where he received the Commendation Ribbon “for meritorious service” for his work as an Information Services officer in postwar Germany, Mr. Wilson settled in New York City in 1957.

Since 1999 he and his wife, Ulla, have been in living in Essex, Connecticut.

Born in Washington, D.C. on July 16, 1931, Mr. Wilson is a graduate of Colgate University and New York University School of Law.

Discharged from the Air Force in 1957, Mr. Wilson worked briefly in the Public Relations Department of a major American oil company. He resigned this position to become Assistant Public Relations Director of the National Urban League, an organization dedicated to equal rights for all Americans. While at the Urban League, he edited a 50-year commemorative supplement in the New York Times, which featured articles by prominent authors and photographers on race relations in America.

Mr. Wilson got his start in politics by becoming active in the Democratic reform movement founded by Eleanor Roosevelt and other leading Democrats. He served as President of the Yorkville Democratic Club, a local reform club, and became Chairman of the “Eastside Citizens for Kennedy” in the 1960 presidential campaign.

Mr. Wilson was next appointed, Assistant to Manhattan Borough President Edward R. Dudley, serving as press secretary. Two years later, in 1962, at the age of 30, he was elected to the New York State Senate in a district  covering Yorkville, East Harlem and parts of Harlem.  He served in Albany for three terms, and in all of his Senate races he was rated as “Highly Qualified and Preferred” by the nonpartisan Citizens Union.

Mr. Wilson’s most notable accomplishment in the state legislature was leading the fight to change New York’s 179-year-old divorce law. At the time the state’s law permitted only one ground for divorce, which was adultery. This caused many New Yorkers seeking divorces to go out of state, or to manufacture elaborate and false scenarios to satisfy the law’s one ground requirement. Through Mr. Wilson’s efforts, the state enacted new grounds for divorce, the most important of which were a ground for physical and emotional cruelty and a “living apart” ground that permitted divorces without having to prove fault by either party.

The Roman Catholic Bishops of New York State vigoriously opposed the effort to reform the state’s divorce law. At one point the bishops came around to sanctioning an additional ground for divorce for “repeated acts of cruelty.” A member of a divorce reform commission created by Senator Wilson, Professor Henry Foster of the New York University School of Law said reegarding the bishops’ proposed ground, “What they want is more than one blow of the ax.”

After two years of effort in 1965 and 1966 by Senator Wilson, the front page of the New York Times on April 28, 1966 was able to report the passage of the divorce reform law under a two column headline, which read, “Divorce Reforms First in 179 Years Enacted by State.” Accompanging the article was a photo of then Senator Wilson.

In 1966 Mr. Wilson lost his State Senate seat through reapportionment. Wishing to remain in public service, he became the Democratic-Liberal candidate for Congress in the 17th Congressional District, the so-called “silk stocking” district, located on Manhattan’s east side. In the campaign, Mr. Wilson vigorously opposed the Vietnam War during the campaign, and harshly attacked President Johnson for failing to end the conflict. In the middle of his efforts to defeat a Republican incumbent Congressman, Mr. Wilson had to suspend his campaign, because rather suspiciously the IRS chose to audit his tax returns.

Mr. Wilson’s candidacy for Congress was warmly endorsed by the New York Times which wrote in an editorial, dated June 30, 1966, “The Reform Democrats gained additional luster through the nomination of State Senator Jerome L. Wilson for Representative in the 17th Congressional District.”

Also, his candidacy was widely supported by peace groups in the district, and by anti-war leader Bella Abzug, who later became a member of Congress in her own right. Mr. Wilson, however, lost his election to Congress by a thousand votes to the incumbent Republican. At the time, Mr. Wilson was living in a crowded railroad flat on East 82nd Street with a wife and four children. The total expenditure of his campaign for Congress in 1966 was $35,000.

Following his State Senate career and his defeat for Congress, Mr. Wilson became an on-air, news correspondent for WCBS-TV, the CBS television station covering the Greater New York Metropolitan area. On television Mr. Wilson appeared regularly on the nightly news and on election night broadcasts. He became the station’s Political Editor and covered state and local  politics. Frequently, he appeared on air with Jim Jensen, the station’s principal anchorman, on the Six O’Clock News.

While he was serving as a State Senator and later working as a television journalist, Mr. Wilson attended night school classes at the New York University School of Law. At the completion of his studies, he received a JD degree and was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York in 1971.

Soon after earning his lawy degreee, Mr. Wilson left CBS to become a full-time attorney at the international law firm of Rogers & Wells. The name partner of the firm was former United States Secretary of State William P. Rogers.

Mr. Wilson worked at the law firm for over two decades, holding the position of Counsel. At the firm he represented a wide variety of clients, including Pan American World Airways, Avis, Edison Parking, and Apollo Real Estate Advisors. He also represented a number of media organizations, including Newsday, The Associated Press, a coalition of NBC, ABC, and CBS networks that was working to amend the New York’s Shield Law, and on an on-going basis the New York Newspaper Publishers Association. The association is make up of the New York State’s daily newspapers, from the New York Times to the Bufalo News.

In addition to his work on the Shield Law, Mr. Wilson successfully lobbied on behalf of Court TV for two legislative experiments in permitting news camera coverage of New York court proceedings.

Also, while at the firm, Mr. Wilson wrote over 50 articles on legal topics, which appeared in the  American Bar Association Journal, the New York Law Journal, the National Law Journal and the Legal Times. His articles discused interpretations of the First Amendment, as well as cases reflecting the competing powers of the federal government and states governments under the Tenth and Eleventh Amendments. In addition, he wrote articles for Editor and Publisher concerning the rights of the press under the First Amendent.

While representing one of the firm’s clients, Landmark Partners, LLC, Mr. Wilson became part of a federal investigation of the client’s dealings with the State Treasurer of Connecticut.  Although the U.S. Attorney’s office in Hardford, after an extensive investigation initiated no action against Mr. Wilson, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that in representing Landmark Mr. Wilson had violated the Securities Laws. To settle these allegations, “without admitting or denying” them, Mr. Wilson paid $50,000 to the SEC.  Mr. Wilson’s status as a member in good standing of the New York State bar was not affected by this settlement, although in its settlement papers the SEC erroneously refered to Mr. Wilson as a “former attorney.”

Leaving Rogers & Wells in 1999, Mr. Wilson next became Counsel to the New York Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade association of the daily newspapers in New York. Working with Association’s President Diane Kennedy, Mr. Wilson worked on legislation to strengthen the state’s Freedom of Information Law, so that news reporters could gain access to state records without unwarranted delay. He also waged a successful effort in the New York State legislature to pass a bill that permitted successful litigants in Freedom of Information Law cases, both the public and the press, to recover their legal fees from the state.

However, even though he enlisted supporting editorials from virtually every daily newspaper in New York State, Mr. Wilson was unsuccessful in convincing the state legislature to pass a bill to permit electronic news coverage of courtroom proceedings on a permanent basis in New York State.

Until his retirement from the active practice of law in 2008, Mr. Wilson served as a member of both the Media Law Committee of the New York State Bar Association and the Communications Law Committee of the Bar Association of the City of New York.

Since moving to Essex on a permanent basis 1999, Mr. Wilson, has been an active  member of the Essex Library Association, serving for a period on the board and arranging an annual “Essex and the Sea” series, which was devoted to nautical topics. Mr. Wilson also on occaion selections of his own poems at the library.

Most recently in 2012 at the Essex Library Mr. Wilson presented a program entitled “Reporting the News, Then and Now.” Featureing a photograph with Eleanor Roosevelt and himself, Mr. Wison related his experiences as as a CBS reporter and his present day articles for a local news webside called, ValleyNewsNow.com.

Also, earlier when he was a member of the church he also arranged a number of poetry readings at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. The readings focused on poems with single themes, such as love, war, faith and politics, as well as of the four seasons of the year. Mr. Wilson also served for many years as a member of the church’s Peace Community.

Mr. Wilson himself has written four volumes of his own sonnets, entitled “Sonnents after Shakespeare,” as well as two collections of free verse, entitled “Poetry of Current Events” and “Poetry for Adults.” In addition, he has translated a collection of poems by the German romantic poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, from German into English. Two of his Rilke translatins were featured in the “Stone Canoe” publication of Syracuse University.

Mr. Wilson has also been deeply engaged in helping Americans understand the European Union, and he has written a number of  newspaper articles about this 27-member nation organization. In 2008 he travelled to the capital of the European Union in Brussels on a personal fact finding tour. Over a two week period he met personally with ten ambassadors to the European Union from the member countries, as well four senior representatives. He also met with the President of the European Parliament, the senior diplomatic advisor to the President of the European Commission, the United States Envoy to the European Union, and other officials connected with the organization.

For a period Mr. Wilson was a regular contributor to the Shoreline Times, and he writes articles on local news for three online news websites covering communities in eastern Connecticut.

Mr. Wilson lives with his wife, Ulla, formerly Ursula Anna Thron. She was born in Germany is now an American citizen. She is also a lover of  opera and an avid tenis player.

Mr. Wilson has four daughters from a previous marriage. They are: Janet Wilson, a former reporter of the Los Angeles Times and now a Communications Officer at the University of California-Irvine; Sarah Wilson, a former U.S. Court of Claims judge and now a partner of the law firm of Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C.; Marion Wilson, a member of the faculty of Syracuse University for inner city projects, and Emma Wilson, the Director of Volunteers at the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Maine.

Mr. Wilson also has two stepsons, Christian and Dirk Johnson of Chester, Connecticut, and Hamden Sydney, Virginia, respectively. Mr. Wilson also has six grandchildren and four step-grandchildren.

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4 Responses

  1. Dear Senator Wilson,

    I very much appreciated you kind phone message recently in response to my piece in the Financial Times on the case for the UK joining the EMU. It is good to know that there is real interest in and understanding of these issues in the USA, which, despite my name (which is Dutch) is my second home (I live in the US for 19 years and became a US citizen in 1991).

    Warm regards,

    Willem Buiter

    Professor of European Political Economy,
    London School of Economics and Political Science

  2. Mr. Wilson,
    I very much enjoyed meeting with you to help craft your article about my store in Deep River, Anchor & Compass. The story turned out beautifully and you were right – that camera takes great pictures!!! I have received many nice comments about the article and it has made me proud indeed.
    After helping your “boss” pick out some layers for himself the other day, I was delighted to learn you used to serve on the senate in New York State. I enjoyed reading about your background and wonder if you ever crossed paths with my grandfather, Honorable Thomas P. Farley. He served as a justice on the NY Supreme Court from 1961-1966 and was a graduate of Fordham University.
    Wishing you and Ulla a wonderful winter season.
    Sage Novak
    Owner of Anchor & Compass and Deep River native

  3. Sage, Thanks for the compliments,much appreciated. Justice Farley sounds familiar,and his dates of public service are very close to mine. I wasin the Senate from 1963 to 1966.

    I shall try to drop by the store with my wife, Ulla, sometime. Maybe she will get the hint. Best wishes. Jerry JeromeL. Wilson, Esq. Contributor, ValleyNewsNow.com blog: jeromelwilson.wordpress.com

  4. There is an odd situation developing in Judge Lomme’s court that would ask you to take a closer look. It relates to your article outlining the conflict of interst of a sitting judge taking on private clients. I have not had any luck contacting you so am trying here. We are scheduled for a hearing before him next Tuesday at 2:00 Pm in Saybrook. I can be reached at 276 266 5193

    Thank you

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