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Judge & Attorney Biographies

Aaronson, Lester H.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 233, page 917

The Honorable Lester H. Aaronson died on August 22, 1994. He was seventy-eight years old. Judge Aaronson was appointed to the Circuit Court in 1961 and elevated to the Superior Court in 1975. He retired in 1986 at the age of seventy.

Judge Aaronson's lengthy public service record included membership on the New Haven board of aldermen from 1942 to 1943, assistant clerk of the City Court of New Haven from 1949 to 1951 and a term as assistant prosecutor for the City Court of New Haven from 1955 to 1958. He served in the United States Judge Advocate General's Office from 1943 to 1946.

Judge Aaronson received his B.A. degree in 1937 from Wesleyan University in Middletown and his L.L.B. degree from Harvard Law School in 1940. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1941. Judge Aaronson was active in numerous religious and civic organizations, including the Congregation Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol, New Haven Hebrew Day School, the Connecticut Zionist Region, the New Haven Zionist District, the New Haven Jewish Community Center and the Woodbridge Country Club. He was married to the former Shirley L. Ledewitz and was the father of three sons.

Adorno, Joseph A.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 209, page 831

1912-1988

The Honorable Joseph A. Adorno, a retired Superior Court judge and a former state treasurer, died on December 30, 1988.

Born in Middletown, Judge Adorno graduated from Fordham University with a B.S. degree in 1933 and from Boston University Law School with an LL.D. and Doctor Jurisprudence degree in 1936.

Judge Adorno served three terms as state treasurer from 1947 to 1955. He was elected Probate Judge for the District of Middletown in 1953 and served as deputy state attorney general from 1955 to 1959.

In 1966, he was appointed a state Circuit Court judge. He was elevated to the Court of Common Pleas in 1975 and became a judge of the Superior Court in 1978. He remained on the bench until his retirement in 1982. He also served as a state trial referee in the Middletown area.

He served as president of both the Middlesex County and Middletown Bar Associations and was a charter member of the Connecticut Judges Association.

Judge Adorno is survived by his wife, Mary D'Apice Adorno; three daughters, Ann Marie Adorno, Mary Jane Adorno, and Joan Adorno; a sister, Constance Carolonza; and many nieces and nephews.

Alcorn, Howard W.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 223, page 929 

1901-1992

The Honorable Howard Wells Alcorn, of Suffield, who served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1970 to 1971, died on Monday, August 10, 1992, at the age of ninety-one.

Chief Justice Alcorn was born in Suffield on May 14, 1901, the eldest son of Hugh M. and Cora Wells Alcorn. He graduated from Suffield School (now Suffield Academy) in 1918 and earned his bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College in 1923. He attended law school at both Harvard University and Yale University and was admitted to the Connecticut Bar in 1926.

Chief Justice Alcorn represented Suffield in the state House of Representatives from 1927 to 1931, serving as Speaker of the House in 1931. He became a state senator in 1933, where he served as Minority Leader. He helped to establish the state's first local zoning commission and served as chair of the Suffield zoning commission from 1928 to 1943. He was actively involved in Republican politics and served on several local boards and commissions.

Chief Justice Alcorn's judicial career began as a judge of the Suffield Town Court from 1929 to 1943. In 1942, he served as executive secretary to Governor Raymond E. Baldwin. The following year, Governor Baldwin nominated him to be a judge of the Connecticut Superior Court. He served as a judge of that court for eighteen years, including two years as chief judge, until his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1961. He was nominated by Governor John N. Dempsey to be Chief Justice and assumed that office in 1970.

After his mandatory retirement on May 14, 1971, he continued to hear cases as a state trial referee until 1984. In the 1970s, Chief Justice Alcorn was chosen to serve as the grand juror to head the New Britain corruption probe which resulted in the convictions of several high-ranking city officials. In 1974, he presided over a case which paved the way for the eventual passage of Connecticut's Freedom of Information laws.

Chief Justice Alcorn was known as a learned jurist and a quiet gentleman of the greatest integrity who was not easily deterred by outside opinions. His legal scholarship was once termed "deep and penetrating" and his writings "reflect painstaking care in preparation, lucidity in expression and a sound analysis in dealing with the problem at hand." He was described by Chief Justice John P. Cotter as having "a great respect for the law and the position of being a judge. He is a diligent worker and . . . one of the most outstanding judges we've ever had."

Chief Justice Alcorn was married to Bertha E. Pinney, of Suffield. They were the parents of three daughters.

 

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 149, page iii

Appointed to Supreme Court April 4, 1961, to take effect October 7, 1961. 

 

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 159, page iii

Appointed Chief Justice May 31, 1969, to take effect April 21, 1970. 

 

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 161, page iii

Retired May 14, 1971, under constitutional limitation as to age. 

Ambler, Richard C.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 60, pages 608 - 609

RICHARD CHARLES AMBLER, a member of the Fairfield County bar, died at his residence in the town of Trumbull, on the 12th of September, 1891, in the thirty-ninth year of his age, he having been born in that town on the 31st day of August, 1853.

His death was a great shock to his professional brethren, for although they knew he was suffering from ill health - ill health brought about almost, if not entirely, by his devotion to his profession - he had been in his office all day attending to business.

The respect in which he was held by the community, the public, through the press and the resolutions of the various societies and organizations to which he belonged and the large concourse of people at his funeral, abundantly and truthfully testified.

It is to his character as a lawyer that this short notice appropriately finds its place in the Connecticut Reports.

His ancestors for years had been among the most prominent business men in this community; but as their business was almost exclusively with the Southern States, it was destroyed by the war. This necessarily interfered with his cherished educational plans. Determined not to be deprived wholly of these advantages, he set himself to work, as soon as he had acquired a thorough common school education, in a book store, where he devoted all his spare time to reading and storing his mind with useful information. The money he earned was saved that he might take a course of legal training at the Yale Law school. This he subsequently did, graduating from that institution in 1878.

While at Yale he earned, by his industry and courtesy, the high opinion of his instructors and the sincere respect of his classmates.

After gradating, he continued his studies in the law office of Seymour & Seymour, in Bridgeport, for two years, devoting his time to acquiring the details of practice. He then opened an office there for himself, in which he was gradually, but certainly, building up a good business, and acquiring a reputation for integrity, ability and learning.

The pervading characteristic of Mr. Ambler's professional, political, social and religious life was faithfulness. No client's interest was ever neglected. Indeed, so far did he carry the idea that he must accomplish all his client desired, that he as almost morbid in regard to it. His client's case was his case so fully that every failure, short of complete success, seemed a personal failure.

His professional life was not long enough to gain its first rank or reap its highest rewards; but what faithfulness, diligence, uprightness, and intelligence could do to carry him towards that end, was done. When that can truthfully be said of a lawyer, what matter when or where he falls. His eulogy is pronounced; his monument raised.

Mr. Ambler was a representative in the General Assembly from the town of Trumbull, in 1889, and as the only lawyer on the railroad committee, he exercised a dominating influence in its action through the memorable railroad fight of that years; and though stories of improper conduct were rife, no man dared to try improperly to influence his judgment of to impugn his integrity.

Fond of historical research, he was both an officer in and contributor to the Fairfield County Historical Society.

A devout member of the Episcopal Church, he not only represented his parish in the annual conventions of that body in this diocese, but maintained personally, as a lay reader, services in the parish church of which he was a member and vestryman.

He was married in 1879 to Miss Jennie Beardsley of Huntington, who, with a daughter, survives him.

His life left, as such a life could not fail to leave, among his professional brethren, a fragrant memory of kindly courtesy, that will not soon be forgotten.

*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by Morris W. Seymour, Esq., of the Fairfield County bar. 

Andrews, Charles B.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 75, pages 729 - 732

Though born in Sunderland, Mass., on November 4th, 1834, Charles Bartlett Andrews was of Connecticut ancestry, being descended from William Andrews, one of the original settlers of Hartford. He graduated with honor from Amherst College in 1858, and while teaching school began the study of the law and was admitted to the bar of Fairfield County in 1860. At first he settled in Kent, where his legal ability was acknowledged from the beginning. In 1863 he removed to Litchfield, and became the partner of the late John H. Hubbard, then in large practice; here he at once took a prominent position at the bar, advancing rapidly till he became its leader. At the next April term of the Supreme Court he prepared and argued six cases, including the famous soldier bounty case of Webster v. Harwinton, involving an exhaustive consideration of the original or inherent powers of towns and of those conferred by the legislature. It was in the preparation of this case that he laid the foundation of that intimate knowledge of our system of town government, as well as the general principles of law, which so characterized him through all his legal and political life and culminated in the Constitutional Convention of 1902. Judge Andrews was twice a member of our State Senate, in 1868 and again in 1869. In the latter year he was chairman of the judiciary committee, a position he also held when, as a member of the House in 1878, he became the leader of his party and made an enviable record. He was Governor of the State in 1879 and 1880, and in 1881 was appointed a judge of the Superior Court. In 1889 he was made Chief Justice, to which position he was again appointed in 1897, and continued to hold the same till his resignation in 1901. His last public office was that of president of the Constitutional Convention of 1902, to which he was sent as a delegate by the unanimous vote of his fellow townsmen.

Chief Justice Andrews was a man of untiring industry in his profession - a deep student and of wonderful memory; his knowledge was profound, extensive, accurate, and at his ready command. Though so profound a student, he was no recluse but one of the most genial of men, with an unfailing fund of anecdote, apt and well told. His knowledge of men and things was as complete as his knowledge of books, and this made him powerful as an advocate and acute as a judge. His law library was the most extensive and best selected of any in western Connecticut, and was as free to his fellow lawyers as was the wisdom of his well-stored mind.

Judge Andrews enjoyed the high places of power and honor which he so well filled, but he cared not for their pomp and show. He was happiest in the enjoyment of his quiet home in the town of his adoption, of whose past history he was proud and to which he contributed additional luster. In that peaceful home he passed away on the morning of September 12th, 1902, in the full vigor of his great mind.

Upon the opening of the October term, 1902, of the Supreme Court, the Hon. Charles Phelps of Rockville, Attorney-General of the State, addressed the court as follows:

Upon the occasion of the first sitting of the Supreme Court, before resuming its work for the year, it is most appropriate that attention be called to the recent death of the Honorable Charles B. Andrews, late Chief Justice of this court.

For a period of about twelve years he presided over this, the highest tribunal of the State, coming to that position from eight years of active work upon the Superior Court bench. Back of this record and preparatory to it, lay a wide experience at the bar, in the halls of legislation, and in the executive chamber. Within the proper domain of his chosen profession his activities covered an extensive field. His vigorous mind and his strong personality left their impress upon all of the great departments of the State, legislative, executive and judicial. It was his fortune to fill the position of governor, chief justice, and president of the second Constitutional Convention of Connecticut. These three positions embody the highest honors within the gift of the State; for them he was well equipped; to them he brought patient and unremitting labor.

Such a record would have been remarkable in the life of any man; but especially must it be regarded as remarkable in the life of him of whom we speak. His physical infirmities burdened him in the race of life, and deprived him of those outward excellencies which pass for much in the public gaze, and which help to grace exalted position. Here his intellectuality showed its supremacy; his mind became the dominant force, and men, attracted by his mental symmetry, lost sight of physical qualities less attractive. Rugged in his nature like the hills among which be dwelt, his character possessed many powerful attributes. Sincere and courageous, he condemned petty artifice and held to his work consistent with the motto, " It is better to be than to seem."

His life and his work are now interwoven with the history of Connecticut; he has helped to make a part of her history, and when we repeat the names of her distinguished sons, we shall dwell with peculiar emphasis upon the name of Charles Bartlett Andrews.

At the conclusion of Mr. Phelps' address, CHIEF JUSTICE TORRANCE said: -

The court is fully sensible of the distinguished services rendered to the State by Chief Justice Andrews, and expresses its obligation to the Attorney-General for the appropriate manner in which he has called the attention of the bench and bar to them, on this occasion.

The Practice Act was enacted with the warm approval of Governor Andrews, in 1879. Three years later, it became his duty, as a judge of the Superior Court, to aid in its administration, - a work which he continued on the bench of that and of this court for nearly twenty years. But the regulation of legal practice, however important, is but a small part of judicial labor. Chief Justice Andrews was an earnest student of law as a science, - of its fundamental principles, and philosophical development. Only such an one could have written such an opinion, for instance, as that from his pen, in the case of Wildman v. Wildman, 70 Conn. 700, in which he analyzes with so much clearness and precision the nature of a cause of action.

He was the seventeenth in the line of chief justices who presided in this court during the first hundred and seventeen years of its history, and of this number, only Judges Hosmer, Williams and Park held the office for as long a period.

In a review of a history of the courts of Connecticut on a public occasion, he once said this : "In every government of laws, the courts hold the most important place. The legislature may be nominally higher than the judiciary; but in the actual experience of life, the courts touch the citizen more frequently and more nearly than the law-making power." Acting under his conviction, he was deeply impressed by the responsibility which attaches to a judicial station. It was his ambition to discharge it with fidelity, and none of his associates on the bench failed to remark the earnestness of his convictions amid the force and perspicuity with which he was able to set them forth. On the pages of our reports they have become interwoven with the jurisprudence of the State, and of all the States.

This minute will he entered at length on the records of the court.

*Prepared by the Hon. George M. Woodruff of Litchfield, at the request of the Reporter. 

 

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 57, page iv

Appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the place of Chief Justice PARK, retired.

 

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 74, page iv

Resigned June 8th, to take effect Oct. 1st, 1901.

Andrews, James P.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 122, pages 671 - 672

James Parkhill Andrews died on September 10th, 1936. He was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, on October 23d, 1854, a son of the late Samuel James and Catherine Augusta (Day) Andrews. He graduated from Yale College in 1877 and from the Yale Law School in 1879. That same year he began the practice of law in Bristol, Connecticut, in partnership with his classmate Willis A. Briscoe, and during that time Mr. Andrews and Mr. Briscoe edited and published the "Index Digest of Connecticut Reports." In 1882 the firm was dissolved and Mr. Briscoe went to Norwich and became a partner of Jeremiah Halsey, and Mr. Andrews entered into a partnership in Hartford with Charles H. Briscoe who was the father of his former partner.

The firm of Briscoe and Andrews had a large general practice. Judge Briscoe was a very popular trial lawyer, especially of questions of fact. Mr. Andrews devoted himself more particularly to the study of legal questions and appealed cases. He was an unusual legal scholar - most thorough in research, painstaking in analysis, and very exhaustive in his examination of a legal problem. Judge Briscoe used to say that after a decision in a case by the Supreme Court, Mr. Andrews would go over the opinion, point by point, and carefully compare the points discussed by the court with the claims made in his brief. And so by practice and by study and by great industry he became a thoroughly equipped and experienced lawyer. He practiced too at a time when the bar had strong lawyers and real leaders - Richard D. Hubbard, Alvan P. Hyde and his son William Waldo Hyde, William C. Case, Henry C. Robinson, Charles E. Perkins and Arthur F. Eggleston. These men would inspire any ambitious young lawyer and give him a zest for attainment.

In 1894 Mr. Andrews was appointed reporter of the Supreme Court of Errors. The first reporter of the court was Mr. Andrews' grandfather, Thomas Day, the second reporter John Hooker, and he became the third reporter. These three men probably comprised as distinguished a group of court reporters as any State ever had. In 1896, in collaboration with George B. Fowler, he brought out another digest called "Connecticut Index Digest." Governor Rollin S. Woodruff asked him in 1907 to become a judge of the Superior Court but, feeling that his strength was not quite equal to the work, he declined the honor. In 1924, when he resigned the position that he had held for thirty-one years, Chief Justice Wheeler in a letter wrote "the accuracy of Mr. Andrews' official work has been exceptional and carried on with a zeal so unvarying and unflagging as to make it manifest to Bench and Bar that he truly loved his work." Chief Justice Prentice frequently said the same thing, and spoke of the unusual character of Mr. Andrews' work and of its great value to the court as well as to the bar. All this was true. By his work in preparing his digests, and by the year spent in his practice at the bar, he became peculiarly qualified for the position of reporter, and further it was work that by temperament he loved to do.

It is not easy to characterize the quality of his work but the bench and bar generally recognized his clear statements of fact, his keen analysis of every legal point, with distinctions and qualifications, all set forth in perfect sequence and expressed in language in which every word was nicely chosen, to the end that it might convey an exact meaning. In all that he did he took infinite pains and felt the importance of doing it well. Somehow he never seemed quite satisfied but was always trying to add a little here and there and to have his work as nearly perfect as he could make it. He lived to look back on a life of real accomplishment. In the work that he has left, he has built for himself an enduring and lifelong monument.

He was a man of convictions and had the strength of character to show them forth in his life. He stood firm on his principles, whatever the issue. All public matters interested him and he supported every movement begun in the cause of good government. The social and charitable and religious life of Hartford was enriched by his generous aid.

There was a certain distinction in his looks and bearing - the mark of the Christian gentleman that he was. He will always be remembered for his character and culture, as one whose charm of personality and sweetness of nature endeared him to a group of choice friends, and as a companion who spoke kindly words, who was always interested, and whose lively and subtle wit brought a smile and never left a sting.

Mr. Andrews was married to Julia Lincoln Ray of Chicago, Illinois, August 27th, 1895, who survives him.

*Prepared by Edward M. Day, Esq., of the Hartford bar.

Armentano, Anthony J.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 205, pages 815 - 816

1916 - 1987

The Hon. Anthony J. Armentano, of Hartford, a former state senator, lieutenant governor and justice of the Supreme Court, died December 25, 1987.

Justice Armentano was born in 1916 in Hartford, son of the late Joseph and Rosina (Donato) Armentano. After graduation from Hartford Public High School, he received his B.A. degree in business administration from Boston University in 1939. He enrolled in the Boston University School of Law where he received his J.D. degree in 1941. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar that same year.

Justice Armentano served in the United States Army during World War II, and was discharged with the rank of Captain. He entered the private practice of law in 1946 and that same year became a part-time instructor in Business Law at Hillyer College, which is now the University of Hartford. He held that latter position until 1959.

Justice Armentano was elected to the State Senate in 1957 and was president pro tempore from 1959 to 1961. In 1961, he became lieutenant governor when John N. Dempsey succeeded Governor Abraham A. Ribicoff.

In 1953, Justice Armentano was nominated and confirmed to be a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. He joined the Superior Court in 1965. During his sixteen years as a judge of that court, he served on the Executive Committee (1969-81), the State Bar Examining Committee (1972-80), the Sentence Review Division (1973-81), the Judicial Review Council (1980-81) and the Appellate Session of the Superior Court. He was a member of the Hartford County and Connecticut Bar Associations.

Justice Armentano became a justice of the Supreme Court on March 2, 1981. In January, 1983, he elected to become a Senior Associate Justice.

Justice Armentano was survived by his wife, Mary, and two sons.

 

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 183, page iii

Appointed to the Supreme Court February 25, 1981, to take effect March 2, 1981. 

 

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 189, page iii

Senior Judge effective January 15, 1983. 

Armentano, Nicholas F.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 210, page 817

1910 - 1989

The Honorable Nicholas F. Armentano, a retired Superior Court judge and state trial referee, died on April 6, 1989.

Born on January 30, 1910, Judge Armentano was appointed to the bench in 1961 as one of the forty-four original jurists of the former Circuit Court. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he practiced law for many years in Stafford Springs.

From 1949 to 1951, he was a Stafford Borough Court judge. He served as prosecutor in the court from 1947 to 1949 and 1951 to 1956.

He attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and was a graduate of the Boston University School of Law.

Judge Armentano is survived by his wife, Elena D'Amato Armentano; two sons, Phillip N. Armentano and Christopher J. Armentano; a sister, Mary Andreoli; and a grandson.

Arvine, Earlliss P.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 89, pages 718 - 719

EARLLISS PORTER ARVINE was born at Woonsocket, Rhode Island, April 19th, 1846, and died at New Haven, on June 22d, 1914. He was the son of Rev. Kazlitt Arvine and Mary A. Porter Arvine.

After a course at the Episcopal Academy of Connecticut, at Cheshire, he entered Yale College and was graduated in the class of 1869. In 1871 he received his degree from the Yale Law School and was admitted to the bar during the same year.

He was married on September 2d, 1871, to Alice J. Strong, of South Manchester, who, with one son, a member of the bar of New Haven County, survives him. Another son, Earlliss Palmer Arvine, likewise a member of the bar of Connecticut, died a few years since. For more than forty years Mr. Arvine was an active practitioner at the bar of New Haven County, and at the time of his death had long been one of its most prominent members. While his efforts were mainly directed toward the performance of the duties of a practising lawyer, he was always interested in matters affecting the profession generally, and in public affairs. He was an active and influential member of the American Bar Association and of the State Bar Association, serving the former upon important committees and upon its general council, and the latter as a member of the executive committee, beside being a frequent contributor to its discussions and debates. At the time of his death he was rounding out twenty years as a member of the Commission on Uniform Laws.

As a lawyer Mr. Arvine was learned and thoughtful, a skilful trier of causes both upon the law and the facts, and a sound and practical adviser. His work as a trier was marked by thoroughness in preparation, and clearness, ingenuity and resourcefulness in the presentation of his case. As a cross-examiner, he was cautious rather than daring. While he never literally followed the suggestion that one should seldom ask a question on cross-examination of which he does not know the answer in advance, he was never numbered among those cross-examiners who by boldness of grasp seek to rob the nettle of its sting. In that sort of cross-examination in which the exigencies of the case call for caution, delicacy of approach and indirection, in order that the witness may not be forewarned and thus forearmed to the end that he may evade the truth, Mr. Arvine. was at his best. He rarely approached the vital topic directly, but felt his way along cautiously step by step from the most immaterial features of the case to the most vital. While not vacillating or uncertain, he was one who studied and learned as he proceeded with a case, and was forever examining and re-examining the facts and the law, continuing this process until the final word had been spoken by the courts.

Mr. Arvine exemplified a high standard of professional conduct. While impulsive and quick to resent what seemed a slight or a wrong, a controversy with him when finally ended left no sting, and few men have laid down the duties of their profession leaving a kindlier feeling behind them.

A huge part of his business at the bar was on the retainer of lawyers younger than himself, a circumstance which attests not only the confidence which his juniors felt in his skill and character, but also the courtesy, fairness and generosity with which he treated them.

At the time of his death he was the president of the Bar Association of New Haven County.

Mr. Arvine was of a kindly and generous nature and helpful both to his juniors at the bar and to those in the community who in business or personal troubles, sought his aid. He had a personal charm which came in part from travel, and from reading and study in lines other than professional, and still more from those innate qualities of heart and mind which found their natural expression in his dealings with others.

*Prepared by George E. Beers, Esq., of the New Haven County bar, at the request of the Reporter.

Aspell, Mary F.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 209, page 831

1921 - 1988

The Honorable Mary Fitzgerald Aspell, who was the second woman to be appointed a Superior Court judge in Connecticut, died on September 7, 1988.

Judge Aspell was appointed to the Superior Court by Governor Ella Grasso in 1977 after serving two years on the Court of Common Pleas. She elected to become a senior judge in 1988.

Judge Aspell was a former partner in the Hartford law firm of Cordon, Muir and Fitzgerald and a former law clerk to the state Senate and the Judiciary Committee.

Born in Hartford, Judge Aspell was former secretary and treasurer of the Connecticut Junior Bar Association and former chairwoman of the Family Law Committee for the Connecticut Bar Association.

Judge Aspell, the widow of William P. Aspell, is survived by a son, James F. Aspell; a sister, Helen F. Rago; and many nieces and nephews.

Averill, Ernest L.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 129, pages 711 - 712

Ernest Leroy Averill was born January 22, 1883, in Branford, Connecticut, a son of George M. and Harriet E. Averill. He died on September 13, 1942.

Colonel Averill completed his preliminary education in the public schools in Branford and New Haven, where he graduated from the high school with honors. Attending Yale University, he was graduated in 1905 and admitted to the bar of the state of Connecticut in that year. He at once entered into the general practice of law and became one of the most prominent members of his profession in the state of Connecticut.

His professional and public career, both as a lawyer and a soldier, has been of the utmost value to this state. He was intensely interested in military affairs from an early age and, along with his other activities, he took time to participate intensively in the general affairs of the state. His work as a member of the general council of the American Bar Association was outstanding. As deputy attorney general of the state of Connecticut he became especially interested in the affairs of the National Association of Attorneys General, acting as its secretary and later as its vice president and president.

His most outstanding legal effort for the state of Connecticut was his careful preparation and trial of the controversy between the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut concerning the diversion of the Connecticut River tributaries, and he devoted a great part of his time to the investigation and research of interstate water problems.

Closely paralleling his legal activities was his military service. He served as an ensign in the Connecticut Naval Militia and, from 1911 to the date of his decease, in the National Guard of the state of Connecticut, rising from the rank of a private to a brigadier general. In 1916 he served on the Mexican border and from 1917 to 1920 he was on active duty in France in the World War as captain of field artillery and assistant judge advocate. He was also very active in the First Company Governor's Foot Guard, from which he retired as its major commandant shortly prior to his death.

Another of his outstanding legal accomplishments revolved around his consistent championship of state rights in banking, and for many years and until his appointment as state director for selective service he was chief counsel for the Connecticut Bankers Association.

Many of the laws in our statutes are the result of study and preparation given to questions presented to the state legislature in the sessions of 1923 to 1927, during the latter term of which Colonel Averill was the chairman of the judiciary committee and the House leader. His complete understanding of the problems of the people of his native state particularly fitted him for the preparation of laws for their guidance.

As a lawyer, in his dealings with his clients Colonel Averill kept uppermost in his mind their problems and a proper solution in their interests. Too frequently the question of compensation was entirely disregarded. His devotion to their interests marked him as a faithful counsellor and advocate.

During the last years of his life he devoted himself assiduously to the question of the draft of our youth and took no small part in the formulation of the selective service system, which, as state director, he administered during its entire operation in Connecticut to the time of his passing. Criticism of any fault in his fellowmen never passed his lips, nor would he countenance it in others if it was within his power to prevent.

He enjoyed a very happy home life with a charming family consisting of his widow, Lulu Johnson Averill; two daughters, Mrs. Curtis Brockelman and Mrs. Roger Smith; and two sons, Major William P. Averill and George Averill.

Of Colonel Averill, it may well be said that his was a life fully consecrated to the welfare of his nation, his state and his fellowmen.

*Prepared by Henry H. Hunt, of the Hartford bar. 

Averill, Roger

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 50, pages 620 - 622

Roger Averill was born in Salisbury, in this state, on the 14th of August, 1809. He came of good New England stock, of hard-working, God-fearing ancestors, among whom were some of the earliest settlers of the state. His grand-parents, Samuel Averill and John Whittlesey, were natives of Washington, Conn., from which town his parents, Nathaniel P. Averill and Mary Whittlesey, removed to Salisbury in 1805.

One of a family of seven children, reared on a small farm, his education had of course to be mainly of his own earning. By the aid of the common school and a public library, by farming in summer and teaching in winter, he prepared for college under the guidance of his brother Chester, a much esteemed professor in Union College, and was graduated from that institution with honor in 1832.

Of the early surroundings of the two brothers, and the inspiring influences of the old homestead, Prof. Reid gives a pleasant picture in his discourse on the character of the elder brother. Their boyhood was spent in the picturesque valley of Wetogue, on the bank, of the Housatonic, near the blue hills of Berkshire. The paternal acres were bounded by the beautiful Twin Lakes and the meadow-bordered river. A fairer spot there is not in the state, and the home was a jewel worthy of its setting. Here the sons grew up helpful, thoughtful and conscientious. Their mother's long life of cheerful activity and bright intelligence was a constant benediction of sunshine and gentleness. Their father's generous good-fellowship and racy shrewdness would afford another of the thousand refutations of the popular modern misconception of the old-fashioned Puritan. Around such a hearth clustered all social, domestic and patriotic virtues. The characters launched from such beginnings were not to be stranded on the shallows of dissipation or idleness.

The subject of this sketch was admitted to the bar in 1837, after studying law with Judge (afterward Chief Justice) Church, in his native town, where he opened a law office, after teaching in its academy. In 1849 he removed to Danbury, and at once attained a wide and successful practice.

Of fine personal appearance with a ceremonious courtliness of the old school-a ready man of business, industrious by instinct, sound of judgment, and careful in advice, seizing and presenting in a effective way the strong points of a case to a jury, and securing in the confidence of the court by the general justness of his legal propositions, he always stood well in the ranks of his profession, to which he was greatly attached, and whose honor and welfare no one had more nearly at heart. A man of instant impressiveness, his native power was constrained by a caution so guarded and ingrained that he sometimes failed to give in expression the full force of his thought. His methodical mind, rarely disturbed by the flashes of impulse, loved the best the safety of considered courses and predetermined conclusions. But his formalism was based on the wisdom of experience, and his sense of justice was often a match for the most erudite opponent. Wary, and slow to begin litigation, when war was once declared he fought to the last battle of his clients, as many a report of re-contested cases bears witness. Conservative by nature, and apt to keep his own secrets well, he was open, candid and thorough in his dealings with his clients, whose life-long fealty he grappled to himself with "hooks of steel," when they realized the virtue of his wise and peace-loving counsels.

In the public service he filled many functions, beginning with all the various and useful apprenticeships of the country lawyer. As town clerk, judge of probate, school visitor, trustee of the State Normal School, member of the State Board of Education, member of the Legislature, presiding officer in the Senate, and in other offices of trust, he discharged his official and fiduciary duties with acceptance.

It was his good fortune to be of good service to the republic in its peril. In the spring of 1861 he was as prominent a leader of the political party which opposed the election of President Lincoln as any in western Connecticut. Constitutionally cautious as he was, the instant the news came of the assault on Fort Sumpter, he hastened to fling his flag to the April breeze, first of his townsmen, waiting for no following, and burning at once all bridges of compromise or surrender. Thenceforth he devoted himself enthusiastically and unsparingly to the success of the Union arms. His words of cheer and counsel on many a public occasion, his untiring efforts in the enlistment of the soldiers and the care of their families, and his conspicuous services as Lieutenant Governor during the four years of the war, have linked his name with the imperishable memories of that heroic struggle, and constitute his worthiest claim to remembrance among the public men of his time.

After the war his participation in public affairs and the care of private trusts prevented that devotion to strictly legal studies and pursuits so essential to the highest success in his profession. His interest however in everything tending to its purity and welfare remained unabated. He was one of organizers of the American Bar Association, and as active participant in its proceedings up to the year of his death. He was for several years acting chairman of the bar of his county. A good parliamentarian, prompt, decided, and dignified, he was often chosen to preside in public assemblages.

His domestic life was one of almost unbroken felicity, as son, brother, husband, and father. He married in October, 1844, Maria D. White, of Danbury, who died in February, 1860 leaving four children now living, his sons following their father's profession. In September, 1861, he married Mary A. Perry, of Southport, who survives him.

He died at Danbury, December 9th, 1883, at the ripe age of seventy-four, untouched by the infirmities of old age. At seventy he had the erect form and ruddy look that characterized him at sixty.

His life had been one of such perfect health that the last year's confinement from heart disease and his long struggle with the inevitable tried his courage and resignation to the utmost. "But," to use the words of his neighbor and pastor, "he became at last wholly resigned to the Divine will, and the Christian hope sustained his last hours." For the last twenty years of his life he was an active and faithful member of the Congregational church of his fathers, and an unfailing attendant on its ministrations.

*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by Lyman D. Brewster, Esq., of the Fairfield County bar. 

Avery, Christopher L.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 143, page 735 - 737

Christopher Lester Avery lived for the most of his life in Groton, Connecticut, where he was born September 4, 1872, and died May 6, 1956. He came of a distinguished line of ancestors, many of whom have played a prominent part in the history of New London County and of the state of Connecticut since the first Christopher came to America over three hundred years ago. Judge Avery, like a number of his forefathers, was recognized as long the first citizen of his native town. He was the fifth of six children born to Christopher Lester Avery and Ellen Barber Copp, and it is said that he acquired his unusual powers of concentration very early in life by studying in the midst of a large and distracting family. He received his elementary education in the grammar schools of Groton and was graduated from the Norwich Free Academy in 1889, from Yale College in 1893, and, after teaching history for a year in a small Kentucky college, from the Yale Law School in 1897. In college, scholastically he ranked among the leaders in his class and in athletics was middleweight wrestling champion. In another undergraduate activity, debating, he was particularly effective by virtue of his quick and incisive mind, qualities which proved of increasing significance in connection with his law school course and later throughout his career in practice and on the bench.

Upon graduation from law school, he was admitted to the New York bar and began practice with the firm now well known as Cravath, Swaine and Moore. This was interrupted by a term of service in the United States navy during the Spanish-American War as quartermaster on the U.S.S. Jason. After his return to civilian life, in 1903 he moved back to Groton, became a member of the New London County bar and was associated with his lifelong friend Charles B. Waller in the firm of Waller, Waller, Avery and Gallup, having offices in New London. For the ensuing seventeen years he practiced law in New London with the vigor and energy characteristic of all his activities, and during this period became increasingly active in civic affairs. While his practice had steadily grown and prospered, it was in 1920 that the course of his legal career took its final and deepest channel when he went on the bench of the Superior Court after nomination by Governor Marcus H. Holcomb. Ten years later, in 1930, he became an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Errors. He served as a member of that court until he reached the constitutional retirement age of seventy in 1942.

In addition to his distinguished judicial career of twenty-two years, Judge Avery rendered public and community service of unusual scope. In 1911 he was warden of the borough of Groton and a colonel on the staff of Governor Simeon F. Baldwin. In 1913 he was a representative of the town of Groton in the General Assembly, and during World War I, in 1915, he became chairman of the New London draft board. In 1917 he was elected a trustee of the Connecticut College for Women, and he served in that capacity thirty-nine years, until his death. For many years he was a member of the commission on uniform laws and was its chairman at his death. Also, in more recent years, he was chairman of the commission for the construction of the huge new Thames River state highway bridge between New London and Groton. A lifelong member of the Groton Congregational Church, he was one of its most liberal contributors, and for many years served on its board of deacons. From 1946 until his death he was chairman of the Groton board of finance. After having served as a director of two other of the local banks, in 1939 he was elected chairman of the board of the Savings Bank of New London, where, after retiring from the bench, he was regularly in his office until the last day but one before he died.

Judge Avery was thrice married, his first and second wives having predeceased him. Six children in all, and his widow, Ethel Gray Bailey Avery, survive. He never permitted the exacting demands of his professional or other duties to interfere with his family life. He was always a devoted husband and father. One of his daughters, in a tribute to him, after referring to his family's dependence upon his counsel and understanding, and to his primary concern for their interest and welfare, further well said: "God in his goodness gave him the energy, character and strength to live according to the high principles that guided his life. His love and guidance cannot be replaced. But the deeds, the thoughts and the devotion with which he served his family and his community are a living testament of his character."

These high principles were dominant and manifest throughout Judge Avery's life. His faithful adherence to them constituted a conspicuously vital attribute of his career as a judge. By reason of his integrity, his keen sense of justice, his deep and well-grounded learning in the law, his sound common sense and his unhesitating courage, he came to be regarded as one of our strongest judges. In the Supreme Court work, he concentrated primarily on the adoption of opinions clearly stating the material facts, the controlling principles of law and the court's conclusion, rather than upon such less vital matters as phraseology and verbal form. Characteristically, he endeavored to make his own opinions concise, logical and free from any ambiguity or equivocation. He was faithful in the discharge of all of his judicial duties and did not miss a day of court during his twenty-two years upon the bench.

Judge Avery was conservative in his views and inclined to be laconic in speech, but he was genial withal in his associations with his fellow men. As well may be inferred from his ancestry and his dominant characteristics, above recited, he could be described as "a typical Yankee." His final service incident to his judicial career was as state referee from 1942 to 1956, terminated by his death at the ripe age of eighty-three years.

*Prepared by Hon. Allyn L. Brown, of Norwich.

 

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 112, page iii

Appointed to Supreme Court April 25th, 1929, to take effect December 1st, 1930.

 

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 129, page iii

Retired September 4, 1942, under constitutional limitation as to age. 

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