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Judge & Attorney Biographies

Jacobson, Burton J.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 212, page 823

The Honorable Burton J. Jacobson, Appellate Court judge, died on July 26, 1989.

Judge Jacobson, who previously was a Superior Court judge, had served as chief administrative judge for the state civil division and chief administrative judge for the Fairfield judicial district.

Chief Justice Ellen A. Peters said: "Judge Jacobson had a distinguished career as an excellent Superior Court judge and, in this last year, in making important contributions to the work of the Appellate Court. His intelligence and unfailing good cheer will be sorely missed."

Born on May 24, 1929, in Bridgeport, Judge Jacobson served in the state House of Representatives in 1959 and 1960. He was president and director of Jason Buildings, Inc., and Atlantic Stores, Inc.

He graduated from Columbia University in New York in 1951 and Boston University Law School in 1955.

He is survived by his wife, Linda Newtown Jacobson; one son, Bruce Jacobson; two daughters, Deborah Jacobson and Lisa Jacobson; a brother, Howard Jacobson; a sister, Muriel Novack; and several nieces and nephews.

 

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

Appointed to the Appellate Court February 15, 1989, to take effect February 23, 1989.

 

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 212, page iii

Died July 26, 1989. 

Jennings, Newell

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 152, pages 749 - 752

Newell Jennings' contemporaries at the bar will remember him as a friendly man and a learned and courageous judge. Lawyers who did not have the great privilege of knowing him and working with him will read his opinions in volumes 123 to 139 of the Connecticut Reports and find them to be the work of an expert judicial craftsman.

Judge Jennings was born in Bristol on May 12, 1883, and lived there until his death on February 17, 1965. He was the son of John J. and Elizabeth Newell Jennings. His early education was in the public common and high schools in Bristol, interrupted by two years of study abroad, one in Hanover, Germany, and one in Paris, France. He was graduated from Yale in 1904, Phi Beta Kappa, and from the Yale Law School in 1907, cum laude.

Immediately following his admission to the Connecticut bar in 1907, he returned to Bristol and engaged in the general practice of law with his uncle, Roger S. Newell, and with William J. Malone. He saw service as assistant prosecuting attorney in the Bristol City Court and also as an assistant corporation counsel. In 1917, he was named assistant state's attorney for Hartford County where he served under the late Hugh M. Alcorn, one of the most vigorous and able state's attorney's in the history of our courts. He always acknowledged his great debt for the professional training he received from Mr. Alcorn.

Judge Jennings was appointed to the Superior Court on May 4, 1921, to take effect August 30, 1922, but his elevation to the bench was advanced by Governor Everett J. Lake on May 1, 1922, in order to fill the vacancy caused by the appointment of Justice John E. Keeler to the Supreme Court. In 1925, Judge Jennings presided at the trial of Gerald Chapman in the Superior Court in Hartford County. This case was one of the most famous in the annals of the Connecticut courts. Chapman had been a notorious desperado and escape artist. The interest in his trial in Connecticut was nationwide. Throughout the trial, rumors circulated that Chapman's underworld friends planned reprisals against the prosecution and court officials. Although Judge Jennings received a large number of threatening letters, he presided throughout the long and hotly contested trial with quiet and courageous dignity. After a verdict of guilty, he pronounced the death sentence on Chapman, who later was hanged.

As a trial judge, Judge Jennings was highly regarded by the members of the bar and the litigants who appeared before him. Whatever the outcome, both felt that they had had "their day in court." With Judge Jennings on the bench, a trial proceeded expeditiously. He could be stern but he was always fair and considerate. He had an innate ability for disposing of the court's business speedily but not hastily. His rulings and judgments were seldom reversed on appeal. When a great flood of cases involving automobile accidents first threatened to bog down the trial court, he developed a happy faculty for securing the cooperation of counsel in settling the cases pending before him to the satisfaction of the parties, thereby avoiding many lengthy trials. He once wrote of himself that as a trial judge his career was unspectacular but that he carried his share of the load and approximated the ideal of Judge Marcus H. Holcomb to have all litigated matters decided, even if not written out, the Tuesday following the week of trial or argument.

To the bar and his associates on the bench, Judge Jennings was affectionately known as the "iron man." "I'm not the nervous type," he once jokingly said. Lawyers still recount the day that Judge Jennings sentenced a hardened criminal to twenty-five years in prison. "Your Honor," the prisoner pleaded, `if you knew of my condition, you wouldn't be so severe. I have heart trouble, high blood pressure, arthritis, sugar diabetes and rheumatism. I'm a sick man, your Honor. I couldn't possibly serve twenty-five years." Judge Jennings, looking down on the prisoner with a sympathetic nod, said "Well, do your best, son, do your best." He had a broad understanding of human nature and could discern quickly what was false, hypercritical or insincere. His rulings during a trial, his announcements of a judgment from the bench or his pronouncements of sentence in criminal cases were never accompanied by a discussion which might appear to be an attempt to justify them. There was a simple, concise statement of his decision and no more. It was the general consensus of the bar that Judge Jennings was one of the very best of our trial judges of all time.

On February 4, 1937, Judge Jennings was appointed as associate justice of the Supreme Court of Errors to take effect upon the retirement of the Honorable John W. Banks on September 22, 1937. His broad learning, keen mind and constant industry are manifest in the many excellent opinions which he produced. As an appellate judge he was a patient listener, but his mind came quickly to the vitals of a case, and he could, during argument, ask the most searching and helpful questions. He worked diligently on the cases assigned to him for opinion writing. Often he would circulate two opinions while his colleagues on the court were ready with only one. His comments on the opinions circulated by his associates were always constructive and showed that he had made as thorough a study of both the law and the facts as did the author of the opinion upon which he was commenting. Judge Jennings abhorred long opinions. He strove successfully to state his reasoning in concise and simple language. He was retired by constitutional limitation on his seventieth birthday, May 12, 1953. He laid down his work as a judge with regret, although he never said so because he was not a man who displayed emotion. He had enjoyed thoroughly every minute of his tenure as both a trial and an appellate judge.

Judge Jennings was a vigorous, active man. Although he may not have appeared to be, nevertheless, he was always busy. In his early days at the bar and on the bench, he was intensely interested in education. Before the consolidation of the schools in Bristol, he was chairman of the first school district. He served as superintendent of schools from 1908 to 1913 and thereafter, for many years, as chairman of the board of education. He was a member of the executive board of the Bristol Boy Scout Council and was the recipient of the Silver Beaver Award, the highest adult honor in scouting. He was a charter member of the Bristol's Girl's Club. He was chairman of the Bristol Republican Town Committee from 1909 to 1922. He served at one time as the secretary of the Bristol Hospital. He was also a director and vice-president of the Bristol Savings Bank. After his retirement, he was made chairman of the Bristol Civic Development Committee.

As a judge, Newell Jennings' special interest was in procedure. He was, for many years, a member and later chairman of the important Rules Committee. He assisted Chief Justice William M. Maltbie, as cochairman of the original personnel (now the executive) committee of the judges and was influential in setting up its procedure. He was called upon to assist in special surveys of the judicial department. The first was a survey of criminal procedure for Governor John H. Trumbull; the second, a survey of judicial expenditures during the depression years, for Governor Wilber L. Cross. Later, he was appointed, by Governor Raymond E. Baldwin, chairman of a commission for the study of the minor courts, and still later, he was appointed, by the State Bar Association, chairman of a commission to study court integration. The recommendations of these commissions were, for the most part, implemented by legislation, executive order or rule of court. In the long years of his tenure as judge, no one contributed more than Judge Jennings to the improvement of our judicial procedures. He was most active on the committee which produced the Practice Book of 1951, wherein are contained more rules improving our procedures than were ever before put into operation at one time.

Judge Jennings was married on June 28, 1910, to Rachel K. Peck. On June 28, 1960, a host of friends gathered to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Mrs. Jennings survives him along with two of their three children and seven grandchildren.

Newell Jennings was a man of strong, positive character. His emotions were always under control. They never affected his judgment. He had a high sense of public duty, and his great public service to community and state was rendered without expectation of praise or hope of reward. To his family, he was a loving and thoughtful husband and father. To the people of his city, he was a wise counselor and ever ready worker for the community's welfare. To the members of the bar, he was the ideal judge. To his associates on the court, he was always a genial, interesting companion, an able and willing helper and a treasured friend.

*Prepared by Hon. Raymond E. Baldwin, of Glastonbury. 

 

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 123, page iii

Appointed to the Supreme Court February 4th, 1937, to take effect upon the retirement of Hon. John W. Banks. 

 

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 139, page iii

Retired May 12, 1953, under constitutional limitation as to age. 

Johnson, Aholiab

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 62, page 615

Aholiab Johnson, a member of the Hartford County bar, died at Enfield in that county, where he had lived for over fifty years, on the third day of March, 1893. He was born at Stafford in this state in 1799, and was therefore in his ninety-fourth year at the time of his death. His birth was only sixteen years after the close of the revolutionary war, and he had lived during all the lives of the presidents of the United States. He had been for a long time the oldest lawyer in the state.

He entered Williams College in 1819, but after remaining one year went to Brown University, Rhode Island, where he graduated in 1823. He studied law at the Yale Law School, of which Chief Justice Daggett was then at the head, and was admitted to the bar in 1825. He began practice in his native town, but removed to Somers in 1830, and from there in 1840 to Enfield, where he remained till the time of his death. He was, while there, for sixteen years judge of probate, and for ten years town clerk, and represented the town in the lower house of the General Assembly in the years 1848, 1849 and 1861.

Mr. Johnson was a man of strict integrity, and had in the highest degree the respect and confidence of all who knew him. He was a man of sound judgment, of much general intelligence, and in legal matters a safe and trusted adviser. He thus lived, in the country town where he resided, a leading citizen, and had an important influence in all its affairs. That influence was always a wholesome one.

The writer spent a half day with him when he was in his ninety-second year, and found him full of reminiscences of his early days, as well as of that somewhat later period which was covered by the memories of us both. His memory was clear and his faculty for narration very little impaired. A quaint humor that he had always possessed still lingered with him, while his hearing, remarkably preserved for one of his age, made it easy and pleasant to converse with him. His eyesight was good, so that he could read his daily paper as he had done for fifty years, and he took a great interest in watching public affairs.

He was a constant attendant upon the religious services of the Congregational Church of Enfield, and took an active interest in its affairs, but never had connected himself with the church as a member.

In 1826 Mr. Johnson married Eliza Peck of West Stafford. She died in 1872. They had seven children, five sons and two daughters, three of whom survive him. Among his sons is J. W. Johnson, Esq., a prominent member of the Hartford County bar.

Johnson, Elisha

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 59, pages 600 - 601

Elisha Johnson, a prominent member of the Hartford County Bar, died at his residence in Hartford, February 18th, 1891, after a brief illness resulting from an attack of bronchial pneumonia. He was born in Barkhamsted in this state, May 1st, 1818, and after the customary experience of the young men of his day in the district school, on the farm, and as a teacher, he entered the law school at Yale, and after completing his course he qualified for practice in the office of Gideon Hall at Winsted. He located at Plymouth, where he built up an excellent practice, and was for many years elected judge of probate, and was sent to the state Senate from the sixteenth district, in 1849, 1850, and 1852. In 1855 he removed to Hartford, where he continued in the active practice of his profession until his death. He was for two years recorder of the Hartford City Court and judge of the Police Court for three years, and was a member of the original board of police commissioners, which organized the police force in 1860. He was elected to the state Senate from the first district in 1860, 1861, 1870 and 1871, and to the House of Representatives in 1869, 1875 and 1876. He was for many years chairman of the school committee in the West Middle District of Hartford, and served for eleven years as chairman of the high school committee. He was appointed a member of the state board of health in 1886, and continued in that office until his death. He was one of the original members of Trinity Church Parish, and was an active officer and liberal supporter of his church during his whole life. For nearly twenty-five years, and until a short time before his death, he was the superintendent of its Sabbath school.

While residing in Plymouth he married Miss Catharine Tallmadge. Her death in August, 1889, was a shock from which he never rallied, and his rapid decline in health from that time was painfully evident to his friends. Three children - two daughters and one son, survive them.

Mr. Johnson's life - private, public and professional - was eminently of the useful type. He was an affectionate husband, a model parent, a good neighbor, a public spirited citizen. He was honest, capable, and industrious. He was well equipped mentally and physically for success as a legislator. His frame was large, erect, and well proportioned. His voice was distinct and his temper and feelings were always under control. In debate he never lost his head or rashly ventured into the discussion of subjects that he did not thoroughly understand, and so the leadership came to him by the cheerful consent of his colleagues. Outside of purely partisan questions (in which numbers, not reason, prevail) the majority was almost invariably with him. His associates had the fullest confidence in his integrity and never feared a hidden trick behind his advocacy.

In his legal practice he excelled as counselor, and preferred to secure an adjustment of differences between parties if possible outside the courtroom. No one could justly accuse him of looking to his own prospective profits in preference to the best interests of his client. Every cause that he tried before court, jury or committee, was tried honestly, intelligently and thoroughly. He lost no cases by neglect, neither did he seek to win by unworthy procedure. He advised his clients wisely, served them faithfully, and charged them reasonably. He was a safe model for the young practitioner's imitation. Every dollar that he collected was honestly accounted for to his principals. Every possibility of failure was frankly explained to the expectant litigant. During his professional life there were many young men who studied in his office and under his direction, but no one of them ever deflected from the straight line of professional or personal integrity by reason of his advice or example, in things great or small.

*Prepared, at the request of the Reporter, by Thomas McManus, Esq., of the Hartford Bar. 

Johnson, Warren B.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 93, pages 724 - 725

WARREN BOWDITCH JOHNSON was born in Enfield March 23d, 1876. His mother, Julia Eugenia Bowditch, died when he was young, but his father J. Warren Johnson, perhaps the eldest member of the Hartford Bar, survives. He attended the public schools of Enfield and at fourteen entered the Hartford High School, and thence to Yale University, from which he graduated with high honors in 1898. He at once entered the Yale Law School and graduated in 1900. That summer he traveled abroad after having been admitted to the Hartford County Bar, standing the highest on the list of men examined that year. He took up the practice of law in the fall of 1900 in the office of Sperry, McLean & Brainard, and continued his association with Mr. Sperry until the time of his death.

He was interested in the public affairs of Enfield, was an active member of the Enfield Congregational Church and an officer of several societies affiliated with the church, and was vice-president of the Enfield Library Board. He was a member of the University Club of Hartford and of the State Bar Association. He had also been acting as Government Appeal Agent for draft board No. 3 in Hartford County.

He died May 30th, 1918, of pneumonia, after only a few days’ illness, leaving his father and a sister, Miss Louise Bowditch Johnson.

As a lawyer he was prominent among the younger men at the Hartford Bar. Thorough, conscientious, and exceedingly wellgrounded in fundamental legal principles, he was accustomed to hard work and close application, and enjoyed his work to the fullest extent. He was painstaking to the last degree in the preparation of his cases and of his briefs, a number of which he prepared and argued in the Supreme Court. His judgment carried weight among much older lawyers, and his first impressions of a question of law were those of a sound and mature legal mind. Above all he was extremely jealous of the ethics of his profession.

He was fond of art and literature, and cultivated these tastes in his travels and in his studies at home. He was also a keen student of history, and followed closely the leading events of the day. Of modest disposition, and somewhat retiring habits, he was always an enjoyable companion and took pleasure in quiet meetings or walks with his close friends.

He was beloved by his townspeople, who entrusted him with their personal and confidential affairs and placed him in numerous offices of responsibility. He was always patient and ready to give his time and aid to any worthy acquaintance or object. In his death the Bar has suffered a great loss.

*Prepared by Harry W. Reynolds, Esq., of the Hartford County Bar, at the request of the Reporter.

Jones, Samuel F.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 60, pages 611 - 613

SAMUEL FINLEY JONES, a member of the Hartford County bar, died in Hartford where he resided, on the 28th day of September, 1891, in the sixty-fifth year of his age. The following appreciative notice of him appeared in the Hartford Times: -

Mr. Jones came from an old and prominent family of Marlborough, Conn., his grandfather and father being extensive landholders. Here he was born in August, 1826. He had the advantages of a good education, and attended Wesleyan University. He was a special favorite of his grandfather, for whom he was named, and by his will came into possession of considerable property. His grandfather's connection with the old State Bank in the adjacent town of Colchester led to the young man taking a position there early in life. The bank became involved in difficulties, ending in Mr. Jones's withdrawal. About this time he bought the summer hotel at Orient Point, L. I., as a speculation. While there he met the late Governor Hubbard, who suggested to him that he come to Hartford and study for the bar. He removed to this city in 1849, studied in Governor Hubbard's office, and in 1851 was admitted to the bar of Hartford County. When he entered upon the practice of his profession his abilities were so marked, especially in pleading before a jury, that he acquired a high reputation for a young man and soon built up a large and paying business. His practice for years was of a general character, but later drifted to a large extent to criminal law, in which he was eminently successful.

He represented Hartford in the General Assembly in the years 1873 and 1874. He was chairman of the judiciary committee and made a fine record as a legislator.

For many years past Mr. Jones had devoted his attention almost solely to his law practice, which was large and profitable. He was retained in all the great criminal cases, and with men whose chances were desperate his services came to be regarded as absolutely indispensable. He handled scores of famous causes of this character, and while he preferred, as his intimate friends knew, a wholly different class of work, criminal practice of the most profitable kind so rushed in upon him that for years past he had had little opportunity to exhibit his talents in other lines. Frequently he was called to famous cases out of town. One of the most notable of these was the Jennie Cramer murder case at New Haven, which was on trial for ten weeks, and, previous to that, the four months' trial of Hayden, the Methodist minister, for the murder of Mary Stannard. He was for years the chosen counsel of New York criminals who were captured while operating or preparing to operate, in Connecticut. Whenever any one of them got into trouble, the first thought of their pals and backers in New York was to rush to Hartford and secure the services of Mr. Jones.

While giving them his best services in a professional way, in accordance with the old legal theory that every man is innocent until he is proven guilty, his friends knew that he had a strong contempt for such people. Personally he had no sort of sympathy with them, but he did his best for them in a professional way. In his own dealings he was strictly honorable and straightforward. His word was his bond, and in all transactions with him his professional brethren held him in the highest esteem. While apparently blunt and gruff, especially in his later years, he had a kindly, sympathetic heart, and hundreds have reason to remember his help and sympathy in their hours of need. He was a rare good judge of human nature; few keener. In this characteristic was his strength with juries. He studied the men before him, and knew how to reach them.

For a year past his friends had noticed that he was failing. His age and a busy life were beginning to tell upon him. His nervous system was weakening, and the effects were noticeable in many ways. He sought relief in lightening the burdens of his practice and seeking rest and recreation in a quiet way. Within a few months a spinal difficulty set in, and altogether his system was ill-fated to withstand the depressing effects of a severe attack of dysentery which set in about eight weeks ago, while at his summer cottage at Twin Lakes. His condition became so serious that a council of physicians was held, and it was his own desire as well as their judgment that he should be removed to his home in Hartford. He was brought in a special car, attended by relatives and a physician. He bore the journey well, but continued to fail, and died a few weeks later.

Mr. Jones leaves a wife, who was Miss Lucy M. Wilcox, of Hartford, a son Samuel F., Jr., and three daughters, Mrs. James M. Plimpton, of this city, Mrs. William R. Crane, of New York, and Mrs. E. F. Meeker, of Bridgeport.

Judson, Stiles

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 89, pages 722 - 723

STILES JUDSON was born in Stratford on February 13th, 1862, and lived there until his death on October 25th, 1914. He descended from William Judson, who was born in Yorkshire, England, and in 1638 came from Concord to Stratford as its first settler. Seven generations separate William Judson and Stiles Judson, and each generation represented the Town of Stratford in the General Assembly. This is a unique record.

His great-grandfather was the first Stiles Judson, and was a captain in the Revolutionary Army. Captain Judson’s father was Squire Daniel Judson, who had been a captain in the King’s army and who represented the town in the General Assembly almost continuously from 1774 to 1785.

Stiles Judson attended the Stratford public schools and later the private school of Frederick Sedgwick. When he was twenty-one he determined to study law, and went to the Yale Law School where he graduated in 1885 magna cum laude at the head of his class. Upon being admitted to the bar in New Haven in 1885, he became a clerk in the law office of Townsend and Watrous, and in 1886 he entered the office of William K. Seeley in Bridgeport, in which city he continued

to practice as long as he lived. In 1890, Mr. Judson formed a partnership with Charles Stuart Canfield, under the firm name of Canfield and Judson. This continued until 1907, when John S. Pullman was taken in as a member and the name was changed to Canfield, Judson and Pullman.

He married Minnie L. Miles, of Milford, in 1889, who survives him.

Stiles Judson was an all-round lawyer, but it was as a trial lawyer that his star blazed the brightest. If genius, as it has been defined, is the capacity of taking infinite pains, then surely he was a genius, for the midnight lamp was never put out in his office until every possible question of law had been examined, every possible question of fact mastered.

He had a commanding presence, a resonant, beautifully cadenced voice, a wonderfully retentive memory, an incisive wit, a lion's courage, an ability for rapid clear thinking "on his feet,” great skill in invective, keen power of analysis, an unusual mastery of fluent, lucid and forceful English, a broad and deep knowledge of the law, of court procedure, and of parliamentary usage. These qualities placed him at the very top of his profession in the trial of causes, and enabled him to render his beloved State signal and unselfish service in the General Assembly.

He represented Stratford in the General Assemblies of 1891,1895, 1905, 1907, 1911. Twice he was House chairman of the judiciary committee and twice he was Senate chairman of the same committee. In 1907 he was president pro tempore of the Senate.

It was not, however, the offices he held, but the battles he fought that made him honored and loved throughout the State. He had high moral courage and knew how to take as well as give strong blows. He was the ablest, most brilliant and influential leader of the Republicans of the State who fought the domination of the Republican machine. He was not a good politician, but he was so wise, honest and effective in shaping legislation, that his work can justly be classed as the work of a statesman.

On the death of Samuel Fessenden in 1908, he was appointed State’s Attorney for Fairfield County, and he did honor to the office.

He had a marvelous store of energy and rare enthusiasm for work. These qualities proved his undoing. He labored incessantly in the service of his clients and in the service of the State.

The one hundred and nine cases which he argued before the Supreme Court of Errors, reported in volumes 56 to 87, inclusive, evidence the extent and range of his practice.

The strain he put upon himself was too great for human endurance, and he broke down a year or two before his death, a young man and all too soon. His great brain and his sturdy body were forced to yield, but his brave spirit went on vainly battling to the last. The star which had shone so brightly went down in gloom, and Stiles Judson, one of the most gifted sons of his native State, and the bravest of them all in her public halls, had fought his last battle.

*Prepared by John S. Pullman, Esq., of the Fairfield County bar, at the request of the Reporter. 

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