President/Executive Board of CAO of WNY
The Honorable Craig D. Hannah is the Chief Judge of the Buffalo City Court and the Supervising Judge of the 11 City Courts in the Eighth Judicial District encompassing Western New York. Judge Hannah has risen to national fame as the presiding judge of the first Opioid Intervention Court in the United States, established in May 2017. He has been featured in such major media publications as the New York Times, NBC News, The Guardian, Denver Post, and HBO Vice News; and has lectured in Dublin, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C. and several other cities on treatment courts and breaking the shame and stigma of addiction. Craig proudly professes 22 years of clean time and tells participants that the only difference between them is [clean] “time”.
Judge Hannah has served on the City Court Bench since 2006 and has been appointed an Acting Erie County Court Judge since 2008 where he primarily handled juvenile matters. Also, he serves as an Adjunct Professor at the State University at Buffalo Law School where he lectures in Trial Advocacy and Procedure and is a member of the prestigious Franklin H. Williams’ Judicial Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness. In January 2017, Judge Hannah was appointed to preside over the Adolescent Diversion and Opiate Intervention Parts and served as the Supervising Judge over the Lackawanna, Tonawanda and North Tonawanda City Courts.
A graduate of Canisius College and the University at Buffalo Law School, Judge Hannah began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Erie County District Attorney’s Office. As an ADA, he was assigned to the Buffalo City Court and the Grand Jury Bureaus. Further demonstrating his commitment to public service, Craig joined the City of Buffalo Law Department in 1999. For five years, he served with distinction as one of the City’s chief litigators in the Corporation Counsel’s Office and later served as legal counsel to then New York State Senator Byron Brown.
In January 2006, Judge Hannah was appointed by Mayor Byron Brown as a Buffalo City Court Judge. In November 2006, Craig was elected to this seat with close to 80% of the vote. In November 2016, he was re-elected to a second 10-year term. In May 2019, Judge Hannah was appointed as Chief Judge of the Buffalo City Court and was elected to the seat in November 2019.
Previously, he was an attorney in private practice with close to 10 years of experience as a trial lawyer in our City, State, and Federal Courts. His practice was concentrated primarily in the areas of personal injury and criminal defense litigation. Also, Judge Hannah is a former Adjunct Professor at Medaille College where he lectured in Criminal Justice and Criminal Procedure. In addition, he was the co-instructor/lecturer for the City of Buffalo Youth Court.
Judge Hannah’s honors and achievements are numerous. Craig is active in several community organizations and was recognized in Business First’s Who’s Who in Law in 2002 and 2003. In 2004, he was elected to serve a Vice Chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee. He was bestowed with the honor of ‘Jurist of the Year’ by the Buffalo Special Police Benevolent Association in 2008 and the Community Service Award by the Afro-American Police Association in 2013. In 2016, Judge Hannah was awarded the Legal Service/Lifetime Achievement Award from Medaille College and the Distinguished Alumni Award from City Honors School. In 2017, Craig was bestowed with the Community Service Award by the Westside Business & Taxpayers’ Association and the “Pay It Forward” Award by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo (C.G.L.I.). He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Hilbert College and was awarded its highest honor: The President’s Medal in 2018. He is a past president of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York and the recipient of its Legal Service Award. Craig is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Committee of the University at Buffalo Law School and a former Vice President of its Alumni Association. In May 2018, he was the recipient of the Law School’s Distinguished Alumni Award and the Outstanding Jurist Award by the Bar Association of Erie County. Also, Judge Hannah was awarded the Outstanding Jurist Award by the New York State Bar Association, Criminal Division in 2018. In May 2019, Judge Hannah was awarded the Distinguished Jurist/Alumni Award by University at Buffalo Law Review. In January 2020, he was bestowed the Transformative Leadership Award by the City of Buffalo for his positive contribution to the community and enhancing the image of Buffalo.
In addition, Judge Hannah is the Chairman of the nominating committee of the City of Buffalo Ethics Commission and a board member of Buffalo Prep, the Buffalo Police Athletic League, and the Bar Association of Erie County’s Aid to Indigent Prisoners. Craig is also the President of the Board of Directors of the Community Action Organization of Western New York and serves on the National Judicial Opioid Task Force. Judge Hannah is active in several civic and fraternal organizations; a proud member of the Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc., the Sigma Pi Phi, Fraternity, Inc. (Alpha Kappa Boulé) and a subscribing Gold Life Member of the NAACP.
Also, Craig the Co-Director of the City Kids at Camp Youth Initiative. Along with Businessman Chris Del Prince and several Buffalo Police Officers, City Kids at Camp takes several inner-city kids camping every summer. The purpose is to take these young people outside of their element to expose them to other ideas and cultures, and to teach them leadership and survival skills.
Judge Hannah is a native of Western New York, a graduate of City Honors High School, and enjoys reading and traveling, with his wife Angela, in his spare time. They are proud parents of Taylor Marie Hannah.