As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, appendix pages 11 - 12
[A] native of this town [New-Milford], commenced his legal studies with Seth P. Beers, Esq. of Litchfield, and completed them with Asa Chapman, Esq., then in the practice of law at Newtown; was admitted to the Bar, in November 1820, in Fairfield county; about one year after which he commenced practice in Litchfield, where he continued until Jan. 1831. He then removed to Norwalk, and practiced there until the fall of 1833, when, on account of severe domestic afflictions, he left the place, and returned to New-Milford, and resumed the practice of his profession here. He was appointed State's Attorney for the county of Litchfield, in 1839, which office he still holds.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 32, pages 592 - 595
DAVID CURTIS SANFORD, Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of Errors of this state, died at his residence in New Milford in Litchfield county on the 10th day of May, 1864, at the age of sixty-six years.
Judge Sanford was born in that part of New Milford which has since been incorporated as Bridgewater. His early opportunities for education were limited and he was self-made. His father was a country merchant, with only a common school education, but with an acute and inquiring mind, and with a great fondness for mathematics, in which he attained to a remarkable proficiency. These qualities he transmitted to and stimulated in his son. The son assisted him in his business and acquired a good common school education, but enjoyed no other educational advantages except for a term or two at an academy. With this preparation he commenced the study of the law at the early age of nineteen; first, for a short time in the office of Hon. Perry Smith at New Milford, and soon after for a considerable time in that of Hon. Seth P. Beers at Litchfield. He subsequently completed his three years of study at the law school of Judge Chapman at Newtown, and was admitted to the bar in Fairfield county in August, 1820, at the age of twenty-two.
He immediately opened an office in New Milford, but within a few months removed to Litchfield, and there devoted himself assiduously to such business as he was able to obtain, and especially to professional improvement by constant attendance upon the courts held there and by study. The advantages offered by Litchfield for such professional improvement were at that time very considerable, and were the chief inducement to his location there. Gen. C. F. Sedgwick, the only surviving member of the bar in that county now in practice who was then contemporary with him, in an address to the court, upon presenting the action taken by the bar respecting the death of Judge Sanford, alluded thus to the manner in which be pursued his great purpose: - "He would have attracted the attention of a stranger coming into the court house by his personal beauty and polished manners. He would also have been noticed as watching carefully the proceedings of the court and listening to the remarks of the counsel and the judges and to the statements of witnesses with eager attention; thus learning law in every practical way."
Soon after Mr. Beers, with whom he had studied and who was then in a very extensive practice at Litchfield, invited him to a partnership, which he accepted. Their connection continued until Mr. Beers accepted the office of Commissioner of the School Fund and left the business entirely to Mr. Sanford.
He continued in full practice at Litchfield until 1832. Judge Bissell had then been elected a judge of the Supreme Court and left an opening at Norwalk, and Mr. Sanford was induced by the solicitation of many prominent citizens of that place and a desire to escape from the rigorous winter climate of Litchfield, to remove to Norwalk. The bar of Fairfield county was then one of great ability. Roger M. Sherman, Thaddeus Betts, Eliphalet Swift, Charles Hawley, Simeon H. Minor, Reuben Booth, Henry Dutton and Daniel H. Belden, were among the older members, and there were well read and acute minds among the younger ones, and it was not an inviting field for an ordinary man. Mr. Sanford took position in the front rank of those of his own age and felt assured of an honorable and successful career in that county; but soon after a severe domestic affliction depressed his spirits and unfitted him for the contests which his position required, and he returned to New Milford, where be ever afterwards resided. Here, upon returning to business, he soon acquired a full and lucrative practice, which continued until his elevation to the bench.
As a lawyer Mr. Sanford was faithful, industrious, discriminating, courteous arid successful. He was not brilliant as an advocate or public speaker, but was ready, clear, convincing and effective in the presentation of truth, and that was all he aimed at or desired.
He avoided rather than sought the distinctions and excitements of political life. He held the office of State Attorney for a time, but that was in the line of his profession. He was also once induced to accept an election to the state senate. This was in the year 1854, and as chairman of the judiciary committee he took a leading part in moulding the legislation of that year. The law relating to intemperance, then enacted, which embraced every provision and sanction which could make such a law effective, and avoided every constitutional objection which could make it nugatory, was drawn by him. That law, substantially as drawn, deprived by repeal of a single provision only, remains upon the statute book, too just and perfect to be changed or repealed, and too stringent and effective to be enforced without the aid of a public sentiment determined upon an utter extirpation of the evil; but a monument of the legal skill and acumen of the draftsman. During that session Mr. Sanford was elected a Judge of the Superior and Supreme Courts to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Chief Justice Church and the promotion of judge Waite to the office of Chief Justice.
As a judge, he was kind, courteous, patient and dignified in his manner; prompt, impartial and accurate in his rulings, and clear and intelligible in his charges, when sitting in the Superior Court; and he commanded in an eminent degree the respect and confidence of the profession. Upon the Supreme Court he was attentive, watchful and investigating, weighing critically every argument and authority, and arriving slowly but surely and independently at his conclusions. No member of the court in later years was listened to in consultation with more respect, or with a stronger expectation that his views of the pending case, when matured, would be comprehensive and his conclusions correct. His opinions are on record in the nine preceding volumes of the reports and compare favorably with those of the most distinguished members of the court. They are remarkable for their studied exactness of language and clearness of expression, as well as for their adherance to the law as authoritatively settled. Few judges ever recognized more fully the duty of a court to declare, not to make the law. While possessed of a minute and thorough knowledge of technical law, he was yet never disposed to sacrifice justice to mere technicalities, where the obstacle was not insuperable, and no judge ever had a higher or more positive sense of justice than he. He was a man of the highest integrity, scrupulously honest and honorable in his professional practice while at the bar, and on the bench absolutely beyond the approach of any selfish or impure motive. The virtuous integrity with which he administered his high office could not be surpassed. Not even a suspicion ever assailed it. In the administration of criminal justice he was regarded as inclining to severity, and he was certainly free from any weak concession to crime; but this grew out of no severity of character, but was only the righteous indignation of a just and virtuous man against those who disturbed the peace and order of the community, which be loved with all his heart. There was no harshness in his nature. A more gentle, kind, modest, humble man never lived. His heart was full of good will to men, and he longed for nothing more than for the suppression of vice and the establishment of virtue in the community.
Judge Sanford had such a quietness of disposition and utter unobtrusiveness and even self-depreciation, that he was disinclined to assert himself or to be aggressive in his intercourse with his fellow men; but there was no want of decision in his character, and no lack of positiveness in his positions upon all moral questions. He never faltered in any matter of duty. He was for many years a devoted friend of the temperance movement. He was also in thorough sympathy with the growing anti-slavery sentiment of the free states, and no man in the country was mere earnestly and profoundly in sympathy with the loyal sentiment of the northern states during the war brought on by the southern rebellion.
Judge Sanford was from early life a communicant in the Episcopal Church, but his religious character went far beyond mere profession. This was his crowning quality and deserves more than a passing notice. Such examples, though by no means wanting in our profession, are yet too rare to be allowed to pass into forgetfulness, and are too precious not to be held up for the contemplation and study of the members of a profession, secular in its character, engrossing in its demands upon the time and thoughts, and, to those who are not firm in moral convictions, too often hardening and demoralizing in its influence.
While no one who knew him at all could fail to perceive that be was a thoroughly conscientious and religious man, yet it was only upon more intimate acquaintance that one came to know of the profoundness of his moral convictions and sentiments, and it was in the quiet of domestic life that his character disclosed itself in its greatest beauty. He loved his home. The ambitions of men he knew little of. Indefatigable in the discharge of those public duties which so frequently called him from home, he returned thither with a love which no honors of public life could impair. His thoughts lingered about the earth as he was departing from it only because of those so dear to him whom he left behind. On his death bed he said to his pastor, "The fear of death has passed away, and all my attachments to the world are broken; the only remaining affection I have is for those I love best, and it is hard for one to depart who is bound to earth by such ties as I am." While he lay sinking gradually and waiting for death he said, "How gently Christ is leading me;" and again and repeatedly remarked, "How gently I am let down." Thus he passed peacefully away, closing a pure and just life with a serene and beautiful death.
The writer knew him intimately, and knows that he would have preferred to leave behind him the record of a true Christian life rather than that of an able and honored judge, and that these pages should express and perpetuate his tribute to Christian faith rather than ours to his honored memory. It is the happiness of the writer that in making it a tribute to both, he can indulge his own love both for the man and for the faith which adorned his life.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 23, page iii
Appointed Associate Judge, in May, 1854, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the promotion of Judge Waite to the office of Chief Justice.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 32, page iii
Died May 10th, 1864.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports volume 63, pages 609 - 610
EDWARD ISAAC SANFORD was born in New Haven on the 4th day of July, 1826.
He came of the original stock of Connecticut. On the side of his father, a much esteemed and successful merchant of New Haven, he was lineally descended from Thomas Sanford, one of the early settlers of Milford. On the side of his mother, Susan Howell Sanford, he was one of the Howells, a very old and respectable family of New Haven. His personal characteristics were such as might naturally have been inherited from such an ancestry.
His preliminary education was obtained chiefly in the Fairfield Academy at Fairfield and in the Hopkins Grammar School of New Haven where he was fitted for college. He entered Yale College in 1843, and graduated there in 1847. He then immediately joined the Yale Law School where, after studying law for two years, he graduated with the degree of LL. B. in 1849. After spending some time in the office of Henry White, Esq., in further study under his direction, he opened an office for himself in New Haven and entered upon the practice of law.
Meanwhile on the 19th of June, 1849, he had married Miss Sarah Jane Lyon, daughter of Hanford Lyon, Esq., of Bridgeport. With one son and one daughter she has survived her husband.
Although he devoted himself assiduously to his profession without aiming at distinctions outside of it he soon attracted, and steadily thereafter maintained and increased, the favorable regard of his fellow citizens who from time to time called him to the discharge of public duties. In 1853, he was elected member of the Common Council of New Haven. From 1858 to 1860, and again from 1863 to 1866, he was Judge (then styled Recorder) of the City Court of that City. The dignity and ability with which he administered his office - especially in the exercise of the limited but still considerable, criminal jurisdiction which was conferred upon his Court during the latter part of his term - are still remembered with great respect by those lawyers of the present day who practiced before him.
In 1864, and again in 1865, he was elected as member of the Senate of this state from the district (then the 4th District) including New Haven.
In the latter part of 1868 and the early part of 1869 he was an instructor in the Yale Law School, and rendered valuable service in that reorganization of the school which led to its present great but growing prosperity.
In 1867 he was appointed Judge of the Superior Court for the term of eight years beginning on the 27th of July in that year. By successive reappointments in 1875 and 1883 he was continued in office until July 27, 1891. By that time his health had become seriously impaired; and it continued to grow worse until his death.
His work upon the bench of the Superior Court for that long period of twenty-four years was substantially the work of his life, and to it he devoted, with conscientious and laborious care, all his energies. He was not ambitious for the glitter of public office, and never sought it, but he learned to like his duties as a Judge of the Superior Court and he was content to limit his career to the faithful performance of them.
His personal character was blameless. Everybody who knew him liked him. His friends stood fast to him and he stood fast to them. His hand was open and generous. His tastes were eminently domestic; his heart was always in his home.
On the 4th day of March 1870, he formally joined the Centre Church of New Haven with his wife and daughter. On the 13th day of July 1893, he died in the faith.
Two days after his death, at a meeting of the bar of New Haven County, appropriate resolutions, prepared by Hon. Henry Stoddard and offered by Hon. Charles R. Ingersoll, were unanimously passed. The graceful and discriminating tribute to Judge Sanford which they contain justifies the introduction here of the few sentences now to be quoted from them as follows:-
"To perpetuate our high appreciation of the character and qualities of the late Judge Edward I. Sanford, and of the loss to us and to the community at large involved in his death, the bar of New Haven County now resolve:-
"That as a man, his friendships were many, broad, catholic and affectionate.
"That as a Judge, his courtesy was unfailing, his patience unwearied, his learning and diligence always mastering the complicated questions arising in the discharge for many years of his duties as a Judge of the Superior Court.
"That in Judge Sanford there was the true friend and the upright and capable judge, and we mourn his death as the loss of a personal friend, and we deplore his illness and consequent death as a public misfortune."
These words may fitly finish this imperfect sketch of a high-minded gentleman, a good citizen, a faithful friend, a loving husband and father, and a just Judge.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter by Hon. Henry B. Harrison, of the New Haven bar.
REMARKS OF CHIEF JUSTICE ELLEN A. PETERS IN HONOR OF ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ANGELO G. SANTANIELLO
March 11, 1987
Before the opening of court this morning, I want to take note of the fact that this is the last occasion on which Justice Angelo G. Santaniello will sit as a regular member of this court before he steps down from active service later this month.
Justice Santaniello was appointed a justice of the Supreme Court slightly more than two years ago. Prior to that appointment, his extensive judicial career included five years on the Circuit Court, two years on the Court of Common Pleas, and twelve years as a Judge of the Superior Court. His tenure on the latter included service as Chief Administrative Judge of the Civil Division and as Administrative Judge of the New London Judicial District.
Following graduation from his beloved alma mater, Holy Cross College, Justice Santaniello embarked on what he thought would be a career as a math teacher. But the lure of the law, not without a gentle prodding from his father, led him to enroll at the Georgetown University Law School, from which he received his law degree in 1950. Between law school and his appointment to the bench, Justice Santaniello was engaged in the private practice of law and served for four years as an assistant prosecuting attorney in the New London Police Court.
When his active service to this court is completed, Justice Santaniello will have authored more than sixty-five majority opinions, including Daily v. New Britain Machine Co., which upheld the constitutionality of the product liability statute of limitations, and State v. Graham, which altered the common law rule so that a party can impeach its own witness. He has shared with us the countless hours of extensive legal research, of draft upon draft and review upon review, all of which go into the behind-the-scenes work of this court. His work here, together with his record on the trial bench, constitute a judicial career for which he is to be commended, and of which he should rightfully be proud.
In addition to his contributions to the jurisprudential landscape of Connecticut, Justice Santaniello has applied his considerable administrative talents to the operations of this court. In overseeing these operations, he became directly involved in budgetary matters, resource and facilities management, and even in supervising preparations for the court’s sessions in Norwich and Danbury.
In closing, I speak on behalf of the Justices of the Supreme Court in extending best wishes to Justice Santaniello and I express to him my appreciation for his contributions to the work of this court and for his dedication to the principles of equal justice under law which has been a hallmark of his career in the Connecticut judiciary. Although we regret that he will not be here on a daily basis, we look forward to Justice Santaniello’s continuing judicial and administrative participation in the work of this court as a senior justice. He will continue to enrich us all for many years to come.
Before we begin to hear the cases scheduled to initiate this year's court calendar, I would like to take this opportunity to honor a very special event in the history of this court. On the first of January, not one but two distinguished members of this court marked an anniversary of unusual distinction: twenty-five years of service as members of the judiciary of this state. Senior Associate Justice Angelo G. Santaniello and Associate Justice David M. Shea: we salute your extraordinary record of exemplary achievement!
Although Justice Santaniello is, as a chronological matter, Justice Shea's junior, I will begin with Justice Santaniello's remarkable judicial record, because, on December 18, 1965, he was the first to be sworn into office. Starting with his appointment to the Circuit Court, as of January 1, 1966, Justice Santaniello rose rapidly through the ranks, to join the Common Pleas court and then the Superior Court, where he achieved a statewide reputation as one of the most respected triers of major civil cases, and a consummate advocate and practitioner of pretrial settlements. During his tenure on the Superior Court, he served both as the administrative judge for New London, and as chief administrative judge for the entire civil division. Then, six years ago, we welcomed him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
As a distinguished member of this court, Justice Santaniello has written some eighty majority opinions, and a few concurrences and dissents. Among his most celebrated opinions are State v. Graham, in which this court agreed to abandon the common law rule prohibiting a party from impeaching his own witnesses, and Daily v. New Britain Machine Co., interpreting the open courts provision of our state constitution. In one of his rare dissents, Petyan v. Ellis, he expressed his serious concern about the downside risks associated with affording judicial immunity to employers contesting unemployment compensation claims. During his full-time service on this court, Justice Santaniello undertook considerable responsibilities for our administrative needs, both in Hartford and for the court sessions held elsewhere throughout the state.
Although Justice Santaniello, for reasons of health, took senior status in April, 1987, he continues conscientiously to sit with this court and to write opinions for it. And so, while we continue to be the beneficiaries of his personal kindness, his wise counsel and his deep understanding of human nature, he is spared the long daily drive to and from New London.
From his New London base, Justice Santaniello has, however, been able to exercise once again his formidable talent as a settler of civil cases. Leading a revitalized appellate settlement program, Justice Santaniello has managed to achieve a record of settling, or narrowing the issues, for 50 percent of our appellate civil docket. His patient understanding of the legal and personal issues is matched only by his persistence in meeting personally and repeatedly with counsel and with their clients. The settlement program that he leads is the envy of my judicial counterparts around the country.....
Justice Santaniello and Justice Shea, on behalf of your colleagues on this court and throughout the Judicial Department, I congratulate you on your many achievements. We applaud your many years of dedicated service in the interests of justice for the people of the state of Connecticut. Best of all, we recognize how fortunate we are that we will continue to have the benefit of your judicial services for many years to come! I now declare this brief ceremony closed, and ask the sheriff to open court.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 228, pages 931 - 933
REMARKS BY CHIEF JUSTICE ELLEN A. PETERS ON THE OCCASION OF JUSTICE ANGELO G. SANTANIELLO'S FINAL PARTICIPATION AS A SENIOR ASSOCIATED JUSTICE OF THE CONNECTICUT SUPREME COURT
January 11, 1994
Before we begin to hear today's cases we pause to honor a distinguished member of this court. Barring unforeseen circumstances, this is the last term of court during which Justice G. Santaniello will be sitting as a senior associate justice to hear cases with this court. On May 28, 1994, Justice Santaniello will celebrate his seventieth birthday and begin yet another new phase in his extensive and illustrious career as a public servant.
Justice Santaniello attended local schools in New London until he left for Worcester, Massachusetts, and his beloved College of Holy Cross. After graduation and a brief stint as a teacher, he decided to explore new vistas in the law and enrolled at Georgetown University Law School, from which he graduated in 1950. Fifteen years later, on January 1, 1966, Attorney Santaniello became Judge Santaniello. His extensive judicial career included the Circuit Court, the Court of Common Pleas, and then appointment as a judge of the Superior Court. In that capacity, he undertook many important responsibilities including, simultaneously, being Chief Administrative Judge of the Civil Division and Administrative Judge of the New London judicial district.
On February 8, 1985 Judge Santaniello became Justice Santaniello of the Connecticut Supreme Court. As an Associate Justice and later as a Senior Associate Justice of this court he has written more than 100 majority opinions. Two memorable examples are State v. Graham, in which we discarded the common law rule prohibiting a party from impeaching his own witnesses, and Daily v. New Britain Machine Co., in which we upheld legislative authority to enact a restrictive statute of limitations despite the open courts provision of our state constitution. One of his rare dissents, Petyan v. Ellis, expressed his serious concern about the undesirability affording judicial immunity to misstatements made by employers contesting unemployment compensation claims. Beyond his role as an author of particular opinions, however, Justice Santaniello has always been an especially effective voice for sensitivity and moderation, whether he writes independently or concurs in the opinions of others. His singular contribution to the court has been his uncanny ability to create goodwill in the conference room. In all our joint deliberations, he has gracefully and effectively strengthened our collegial capacity to resolve the controversial questions on our multifaceted agendas with the right blend of mutual respect and intellectual rigor.
Most of us move through our professional lives in seriatim fashion-first concentrating on one aspect of our careers, and then on another. Justice Santaniello, however, thrives in a polyphasic universe-seemingly content only in being challenged in several areas at the same time. Since April 1, 1987, when he took senior status, he has continued to sit with this court on a monthly basis, always willing to contribute to the writing of opinions. At the same time, he has spearheaded the Supreme Court on Circuit program, enabling us semiannually to have our court sessions serve as educational programs for students throughout the state. Of course, he has also brought his wisdom and experience to bear on innumerable other Judicial Branch committees and projects.
But it is in the area of the preargument settlement conference program that Justice Santaniello's talents are legendary! Following the adage that "there is no case like a settled case," he has designed and manages a preargument program that is the envy of my colleagues in other states. Aided by a cadre of retired justices and judges many of whom he has himself instructed in settlement techniques, Justice Santaniello's negotiating and administrative skills have energized a program that currently boasts a 44 percent settlement rate!
He has brought to this all the extraordinary skills for which he is justly admired throughout the state: a patient and compassionate understanding of the underlying legal issues and unparalleled persistence in meeting personally and repeatedly with counsel and with their clients. In response to nationwide requests for information about our settlement program, it is my delightful responsibility repeatedly to describe this great success story-although I am always careful to warn my counterparts that it will not be easy to find another Justice Santaniello!
I speak on behalf of every member of the Judicial Branch in thanking you, Justice Santaniello, for your many years of faithful service in the past and for your cheerful willingness to continue, as ever, to play an important role in public service as a state trial referee and as a founding father of the new Sta-Fed project. Nonetheless, perhaps you and your wife Kay will at last be able to enjoy some more leisure time together, in good health and with the happy satisfaction that comes from a life well spent! Our best wishes go with you, wherever you are!
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 195, page iii
Appointed to the Supreme Court February 1, 1985.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 203, page iii
Senior Judge effective March 31, 1987.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 224, page iii
Appointed to the Appellate Court September 30, 1992, to take effect October 23, 1992.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 101, page 765
WALTER STANLEY SCHUTZ, born in Concord, New Hampshire, September 6th, 1872, was educated at St. Paul’s School at that place and then graduated from Trinity College, Hartford, with the degrees of bachelor and master of arts. Later he graduated from Columbia Law School with the degree of bachelor of literary law. He studied law in the office of Lord, Day & Lord, of New York City, was admitted to the bar there in 1897, and in 1900 removed to Hartford where he practised up to the time of his death on January 4th, 1924. On October 1st, 1904, he formed a partnership with Stanley W. Edwards, which continued under the name of Schutz & Edwards until the death of the latter in 1919.
He served with distinction during the years 1917, 1918 and 1919, in the rehabilitation of Poland, and received the thanks of the Commander-in-Chief, and a medal from the French Government for his services. In May, 1920, he was appointed corporation counsel of Hartford and held that office until 1922, when he became the senior member of the law firm of Schutz, Cramer & Guthrie.
Walter Stanley Schutz was a conscientious, able and upright lawyer, and as such enjoyed the esteem and confidence of all who knew him, whether friend, client, or brother practitioner. Unselfish to a high degree, he was ever seeking to help others less fortunate than himself. As a staunch advocate of law enforcement in every respect, he gave much of his own time and service for the social and moral uplift of the community and the State. He took a deep interest in all civic and public affairs, and was connected with various legal, public and collegiate associations.
His unfailing courtesy, his sterling qualities and his deep humanitarian interest, endeared him to all who came in contact with him, while his sound judgment and good common sense made him a trusted friend and adviser. As a lawyer and citizen of the highest type, his memory will ever be cherished and his example may be well worthy of our emulation.
A man of deep religious feeling, he carried the principles of Christianity into his every day life firmly, quietly, and unostentatiously. Of few men can it better be said that he fought the good fight and kept the faith.
In 1912 Mr. Schutz married Mrs. Mabel A. H. Bunce of Hartford, who with his son, Harcourt F. Schutz, and his stepchildren, Meta Alice and John Lee Bunce survive him.
*Prepared by Charles W. Cramer, Esq., of the Hartford County Bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 93, pages 721 - 722
EDWIN LEWIS SCOFIELD was born in Stamford, June 19th, 1852. His ancestors were among the early settlers of the town. After graduating from the Columbia Law School he was in 1873 admitted to the bar of Fairfield County. From that time until his death on January 14th, 1918, he practised law in Stamford. Between 1875 and 1882 he was a prosecuting agent for Fairfield County and corporation counsel of Stamford. In 1881 he was chosen as a Representative of his town in the General Assembly. His forceful personality and ability in debate soon gained him recognition as one of the prominent figures in the legislature, and being sent to the next General Assembly as Senator, he was made chairman of the Joint Committee on Judiciary. At the end of this session he retired from public office for some time, but did not abandon his interest in public affairs, which always occupied an important place in his thoughts. He became Mayor of Stamford in 1895 and held the office for two terms, declining a third nomination. In 1897 he was appointed Commissioner of Building and Loan Associations and two years later Insurance Commissioner, which office he resigned in March, 1902.
In his community Mr. Scofield filled many important positions other than public offices. He was a director of many business corporations, and was deeply interested in many forms of organized charity. He was president of the Stamford Hospital from 1910 to the end of his life. With the outbreak of war he became a leader of the ensuing public activities and was chairman of the campaign committee of the Red Cross fund in Stamford.
Mr. Scofield was a happy combination of those characteristics which go to make the successful lawyer. To a fund of common sense, natural good judgment and sound learning, were added perseverance, capacity for great industry, the clear perception of facts and their relations which we call a sense of proportion, the rugged honesty and complete fidelity to a trust which indicate character and win confidence; and with these traits went a masterful personality emphasized by a commanding physical presence and a fine resonant voice. Within a short time after his admission to the bar, he had developed a reputation and had acquired a considerable practice. Both increased steadily until he came to be one of the acknowledged leaders of his profession in the State. He was of too practical and sensible a mind not to realize the waste of money, time and energy often involved in litigation, but with a full appreciation of its many annoyances and futilities, he knew also how great was the potential force implied in the right to invoke the aid of the courts as a last resort, and when the interest of his client called him to do battle, he was a valiant champion and worthy antagonist. His litigated cases were not as numerous as they were important. He was very effective as a trial lawyer. In the development of his own case, and in cross-examination, he was exceedingly skillful, and was no less so in his argument on the evidence. He had, in a high degree, the faculty of clear presentation of a thought clearly perceived by him, and an earnest, forceful, though collected manner of statement. In negotiation—that acid test of the useful lawyer—he was patient, tactful and resourceful, and, in consequence, often succeeded in obtaining for his client satisfactory adjustments in cases which in the hands of a less talented practitioner would have resulted in protracted and disastrous litigation. He combined two qualities often found separately in lawyers: the ability to detect the fallacy in his opponent’s case and the grace to see the weak points in his own. He was not only fearless toward his adversary, but he was never afraid to be frank with his employer, and he had so completely the confidence of his clients, that they were willing to be guided by his advice even though their prejudices or impulses were thereby restrained. He was an able advocate, a fair antagonist, a wise counsellor, a good lawyer—and withal, a just and kindly man, who met worthily the opportunities and responsibilities which life held out to him.
*Prepared by Frederick C. Taylor, Esq., of the Fairfield County Bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 110, pages 703 - 705
CHARLES EDWIN SEARLS was born in Pomfret, March 26th, 1846, the son of Edwin C. and Caroline Mathewson Searls. Three years later the family removed to New York and resided there for eight years when, upon the death of his father, he returned with his mother to Thompson, where always thereafter he resided. After preparatory education at Thompson Academy he entered Yale College and graduated with the class of 1868. He then entered the law office of Gilbert W. Phillips, in Putnam, as a student, was admitted to the bar in 1870, and continued in active practice in Putnam until his death, July 14th, 1925. He married, October 8th, 1902, Sarah Alice Fell, of Boston, Massachusetts, who survives him.
President (1918-1919) of the State Bar Association, president of the Windham County Bar Association, State’s Attorney from 1903, a period of twenty-two years, Charles E. Searls was, by general recognition, one of the leading lawyers of the State. Natural ability, acumen and resourcefulness, a faculty for painstaking research and preparation, industry and perseverance, an ardent love for and loyalty to the profession of his choice, and a deep, abiding, and actuating sense of fairness and justice were among his outstanding attributes. A rare charm of mind and manner was manifest in all his contacts, both professional and personal. His demeanor in court was courteous and devoid of offensive pugnacity, his instinct for and adherence to essentials always manifest, his conduct of cases free from ostentation and characterized by fairness to the court and to opposing counsel and parties.
In his performance of the difficult duties of State’s Attorney all of these qualities were exercised, and he was ever sensitive to and guided by the requirements of justice. Ready to accord fully to accused persons their right to fair trial and the benefit of reasonable doubt, merciful in his attitude toward weak, misguided or youthful transgressors, he was vigorous and relentless in bringing conviction and deserved punishment to the hardened and defiant offender; yet there was never occasion for the court to intervene to protect the accused from undue zeal or unfairness.
In his extensive civil practice, careful investigation of law and weighing of facts rendered his counsel accurate and safe, and often availed of by other attorneys as was his assistance in the trial of important causes. The well-worn volumes of his working library evinced the thorough research by which he evolved or fortified his opinions upon questions of law. His interest in young and inexperienced practitioners was sincere and helpful; to all such he was generous and kindly in advice and guidance and in furtherance of their welfare and progress.
Although keenly interested in civic affairs and enjoying a commanding political influence, his own acceptance of public office was confined to service, early in his career, for two terms in the Connecticut House of Representatives, 1871 and 1886, as Secretary of the State, 1881-1883, and in the Senate of 1909 as chairman of the committee on judiciary. He declined appointment as a judge of the Superior Court, preferring to continue in practice, as well as opportunities of election to Congress and to high office in the executive department of the State. An honor which he greatly valued was the presidency of the State Bar Association, which office he administered with personal satisfaction as well as advantage to the profession.
His social relations were most agreeable. His hearty and genial greeting, often accompanied by a slyly humorous exaggeration of the station of the recipient and the honor conferred by the call, the happy and optimistic spirit which he radiated, his fund of intelligent comment and entertaining reminiscence, the generous hospitality which he delighted to extend to his friends at his home are permanently pleasant memories to many of his contemporaries.
His life and works reflected fulfillment of this invocation, pronounced at the opening of a Connecticut criminal term: “We ask Thy help that our judgment may be more like Thine; that we may remember the seeds of ill that lurk within the hearts of all, and into what dark shadowing trees with saddest fruits those seeds had grown had we been so placed as to bring them forward. Help us with all the wisdom Thou dost give, that we may lessen the evil in the world and give the good a better chance. Help us to give due value to each human life, and to humanity at large. So may we help to make things better in this world, where Thou hast made us fellow-workers with thyself."
*Prepared by Hon. George E. Hinman, of Willimantic, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 50, pages 622 - 624
CHARLES FREDERICK SEDGWICK was born in Cornwall, Litchfield County, Conn., Sept. 1, 1795. His grandfather, Gen. John Sedgwick, was a major in the Revolutionary army, and a major general of the state militia. His ancestry is traced to Robert Sedgwick, one of Cromwell's generals.
He was a brother of the late Albert Sedgwick, who was for many years sheriff of Litchfield County and School Fund Commissioner of this state; and a cousin of the renowned Gen. John Sedgwick of the sixth corps of the army of the Potomac, who was killed at Spottsylvania, Va., in the late civil war.
After graduating at Williams College, 1813, he took charge of an academy in Sharon, Conn., and at the same time studied law, and was admitted to the bar, March, 1820, in Litchfield County. He immediately located in Sharon, and there continued in the practice of his profession and ended his life work. He was married to Betsey, daughter of Judge Cyrus Swan of Sharon, Oct. 15th, 1821. She and eight of their children survive him.
He was early a member of the Legislature in both of its branches, a judge of the court of probate for the district of Sharon, and for the last eighteen years of his professional activity, and until his health began to fail, State's Attorney for the county.
He inherited and manifested a special admiration for military affairs, and was appointed brigadier general of the state militia in 1829, and afterwards major general of the third military division of the state.
Physically, he was a remarkable man; large, tall, and erect, his appearance in and out of the court-room was attractive and commanding. As a lawyer not arrogant, not sarcastic, not brilliant, always courteous, a ready, fluent advocate, presenting his views of the case on trial with force and zeal, commanding the respect of the court and jury.
In the discharge of his duty as a public prosecutor, the administration of his office was characterized by the application of the principle "that ninety-nine guilty persons should escape, rather than one innocent person should suffer." His habits were exemplary; tobacco and intoxicants in all their forms were to him abhorrent.
The current events of the day were all noted by him, and he delighted in works of history, biography and genealogy. His wonderfully retentive memory, bodily vigor, and genial nature made him a delightful talker in the social circle, and eminently useful in furnishing information of and concerning persons and their affairs. If it became necessary to find a collateral or other heir to an estate, or to insert a branch in the genealogical tree of a family in western Connecticut, Gen. Sedgwick was referred to as a living compendium of the required information, and his detailed reminiscences of the peculiarities and characteristics of persons always interested his hearers and often elicited their merriment.
His centennial address and history of the town of Sharon in 1865, is a valuable depository of knowledge for the inhabitants of the town. His address at Litchfield in April, 1870, entitled " Fifty Years at the Bar," descriptive of the lawyers and judges of the courts of his time, is an acquisition to the legal literature of our state, which should be preserved in an enduring form.
The members of the bar of Litchfield County manifested their esteem for him from time to time, by soliciting his appointment to the office he so long held; and to show his appreciation thereof, I will quote the concluding remarks of his address:-
"Standing here alone, the only member of this bar who has been in practice for fifty years, I take pleasure in expressing to my brethren of more recent experience, the deepest gratitude for the pleasant and friendly relations they have permitted me to enjoy with them during the whole of our acquaintance. By their kind amenities and the favor of the judges, the rays of my evening sun have fallen upon me softer than did those of my noon-day. These precious remembrances will remain with me as long as I have consciousness; and in conclusion I say to my brethren, not as a thoughtless wish, but as an honest prayer, May God bless you, each and all."
He lived soberly, he waited for death calmly, and died in communion with the Congregational church at Sharon, March 9th, 1882, in his 87th year.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter by Donald J. Warner, Esq., of the Litchfield County bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 61, pages 599 - 601
William Keeler Seeley was born in the town of Easton, in this state, on the 17th day of September, 1828. He was brought up on a farm, and his early education was obtained in the district school and the Staples Academy of the town of Easton. After deciding to adopt the profession of the law, which he did upon the suggestion of the writer, who was his schoolmate and lifelong friend, he commenced his studies with Daniel Wakeman, an old lawyer then residing in the town of Easton, to whom he recited for several months. He then took a full course at the Yale Law School, and was admitted to the bar in March, 1852. He commenced practice in the town of Westport, but soon after came to Bridgeport, and entered into partnership with the late Judge S. B. Beardsley, for whom he always entertained the highest regard and admiration. During his career of nearly forty years at the bar he applied himself diligently to the practice of his profession, until the last few years of his life, when failing health caused him to relax his energies. He was a hard student during the first thirty years of his practice, and prepared his cases with great care and thoroughness, both on questions of law and of fact. He was not a brilliant advocate, but he addressed court and jury with sturdy common sense, not unfrequently enlivened by flashes of original wit. He was persistent to the last degree, and when convinced in his own mind that he was right he never abandoned a case until the court of last resort decided that he was in error. During his thirty years of active practice he was engaged in cases with Hawley and Belden, Ferris and Loomis, Ferry and Sturges, White and Taylor, Treat and Beardsley, and many others, and he always commanded the respect of his associates. No man at the bar had a more marked individuality than he. He seldom failed to attend a bar meeting and always took an active part in its discussions and deliberations. He was proud of his profession and jealous of its dignity. It was he who inaugurated the custom, which still obtains, for the members of the bar to rise upon the entrance of the judges of the Supreme Court of Errors. Not a few of the laws upon our statute book had their origin with him.
At the bar meeting called soon after the announcement of his death, appropriate resolutions were adopted, and Messrs. Lockwood, Sanford, Olmstead, Middlebrook, Stoddard, Gould and Canfield spoke eulogistic terms of their departed brother. The remarks of Mr. Canfield characterized Mr. Seeley so accurately that we quote from them: "I should be recreant to my duty if I did not join my brothers at the bar in their tribute to the memory of Mr. Seeley, who has just passed from our midst. Entering his office at an early age, first as a clerk, then as student, and afterwards associated with him in his profession,-in all covering a continuous period of seventeen years, I had abundant opportunity to observe his personal characteristics, his strong individuality, his intercourse with his clients, and the practice of his chosen profession. Among his characteristics he has left many worthy of emulation. His unflagging industry and indomitable will, his method and system of doing business, his thoroughness in the preparation of his cases for trial, his inexhaustible resources when engaged in court, his vigor, energy and originality of expression, his scrupulous accuracy and inflexible honesty, and his hatred of shams, chicanery and hypocrisy, are so well known to all of us that they hardly need mention at this time. He enjoyed a large and lucrative clientage, embracing all sections of the county, and in the main I can safely say that to be once his client was always to remain so. And yet with all of his aggressiveness he was never to my knowledge known to encourage litigation or invite controversy leading to the bringing of suits, where there was any possibility of compromise by mutual concession. The bringing of a suit was the last resort after all other efforts had failed. Having once advised a client, after careful examination of his case, that he had no cause of action, he would peremptorily refuse to bring a suit even at the risk of the client going elsewhere, principally for the reason that he would not in court advocate a cause that he did not himself believe in..... He loved his profession, and none knew better than he the unceasing toil and earnest, faithful work which it demanded of those who strove to reach the top and retain the lead. He was a man somewhat misunderstood by many, but as I look back upon the years spent in his office, and the many benefactions he has bestowed upon me, and recall his many hard fought battles and his brilliant victories, my admiration for him as a man, as a lawyer, and as a friend will always remain and grow. He was particularly kind and obliging to the young practitioners, and no one of them ever sought his counsel or advice in vain. Towards Chief Justice Butler, in whose office he studied while attending the law school, he always cherished the most affectionate regard and esteem, both for his qualities as a man and his genius as a jurist; and the bar of this county are to-day indebted to Mr. Seeley for the excellent portrait of Judge Butler which adorns the walls of the Superior Court room. I will remember his drawing up the subscription paper and circulating it among his brethren twenty years ago. Judge Butler left a fund for the benefit of the law library of the county, and made Mr. Seeley one of the trustees of the fund. He was for many years a unique and striking figure at our bar, and by his death we have lost a good lawyer, one true to every trust confided to him, staunch and loyal to his clients and friends under any and all circumstances, of rugged personality and withal an upright honest man."
He married Mary Jennings of Easton, January 23d, 1855, who survives him. He has but one son living, James R. Seeley, a graduate of Yale, and a member of the Fairfield County bar.
In July, 1883, he traveled around the world, going via San Francisco to Japan and China, visiting the cities of Shanghai, Pekin, Hong Kong, Canton, Singapore, Rangoon, Calcutta, Benares, Delhi, Bombay, Suez, Cairo, Alexandria, Smyrna, Constantinople, Naples, Rome, Turin, Paris and London. He returned in June, 1884, and was not thereafter actively engaged in the practice of the law. It was a great treat to hear his graphic relations of his experiences in foreign lands. For the last few years of his life he had his office in his residence, and was seldom seen in the courts.
He died December 21st, 1891, and was laid to rest in Mountain Grove Cemetery.
*Prepared, at the request of the Reporter, by David B. Lockwood, Esq., of the Fairfield County bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 62, pages 604 - 607
EDWARD WOODRUFF SEYMOUR, a Judge of the Supreme Court of this state, died at Litchfield, on the 16th of October, 1892. He was born at Litchfield, August 30th, 1832, the eldest son of Chief Justice Origen S. Seymour. His mother was a sister of George C. Woodruff, Esq., of Litchfield, a prominent lawyer there, and Judge Lewis B. Woodruff of New York. He graduated at Yale in 1853, and was admitted to the bar in Litchfield in 1856, where he continued to practice until 1875, when he removed to Bridgeport, and formed a partnership with his younger brother, Morris W. Seymour, with whom he was associated until 1889, when he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Errors. He was for several years judge of probate in the Litchfield district. He represented Litchfield in the state legislature in 1859-60-70-71. He was a member of the state senate in 1876. He represented his district in Congress from 1882 to 1886. He was senior warden of St. Michael's Church, and, since the death of his honored father, has been one of the representatives of the diocese of Connecticut in the general conventions of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States. He married Mary Floyd, daughter of Recorder Frederic A. Talmage, of New York city, and grand-daughter of Colonel Benjamin Talmage of revolutionary fame. Of his immediate family, his venerable mother, his widow, and his brothers, Rev. Storrs O. and Morris W., survive him.
These statistics are required for an obituary notice. They tell of a busy life, of large responsibilities, and of a varied public service. But they are, after all, but the anatomical skeleton in a portrait, partial, cold, incomplete, until they are clothed with the flesh and blood which gave them form and color, and quickened by the soul which gave inspiration and expression to the subject of our sketch.
There are men of rugged strength whose greatness is angular; there are men of professional eminence whose personality elsewhere is insignificant; there are men whose hands are clean in private life, but who consent to corruption in public affairs; there are men of moods, intellectual and spiritual, to-day full of sunshine, tomorrow stirred as by an earthquake. Judge Seymour was in none of these classes. His strength was symmetrical; he brought his personal character to his public service and to his profession; the surface of his character was sensitive to impression, it was easily moved by sympathy, sociality, and mirth, but beneath the surface the depths were always calm. He was as pure in his political life as in his closet. He was a disciple of the same Master in his office as in his church pew. He never forgot the old-fashioned virtues of modesty and self-respect, nor learned, for his own use, the morals of intrigue or the manners of the "hustler." In public and in private, at home and on the platform, at the bar and on the bench, he was the same strong, sincere, just, kind, considerate, charitable man. He was a rare type of the finer civilization of New England. His roots ran back to the revolution and farther back to the colony, in the lines of the best blood and culture. There he found his patriotism, his faith in the people, his reverence for the common law and the constitution of 1639, and his obedience to God. His education in our national university, his experience and observation in metropolitan activities of law and business and politics, and his fairly wide reading of the best literature, broadened him, and filled with overflowing charity a soul naturally kind. His love for mother earth, and its fruits, and flowers, and rocks, and springs, and for the clouds and the stars, and the sunrise and the sunset, fed with geniality and poetry a soul naturally alive to sentiment and imagination. The seed sown in his experience in love and friendship, as son, and husband, and brother, and kinsman, and companion, brought forth fruit an hundred fold from the fertilities of his heart.
As a lawyer he was thorough, quick in perception, sound in reflection, pleasing and effective in speech. He prepared his causes conscientiously. His knowledge of men, his quick wit, his rare appreciation of humor and humorous things, his abounding good judgment, his intellectual alacrity in emergencies, and his courage in a crisis, gave him a fine outfit for practice. He cross-examined a witness always with skill, and sometimes with genius. But no temptation to score a point ever led him into the petty tyranny of abusing a witness. He wore the golden rule on his heart and remembered that the man in the witness box was a brother.
He used his own natural eyes rather than the microscope or the telescope. He dealt, in logic and analogy, with things at hand. He emphasized general principles rather than exceptions. He believed in the course of a current rather than in the opposition of a trifling eddy. He cared nothing for technicalities excepting as they are necessary to clothe procedure in decent form for larger use. As a judge he was accurate, logical, penetrating, intuitive, and full of that common sense which is the basis of judicial wisdom. And as a judge, without being hortatory, he warmed his opinions with wholesome morals. Such ethics, for instance, as we find in the opinion in Coupland v. Housatonic Railroad Company, in the 61st Conn., make good reading. His career as a lawyer and judge strengthens our attachment to our profession which he adorned.
He made friends for good and all, as he was a friend for good and all. His sociality was sincere and full of sympathy and sparkle. His religion was sunny, sensible and satisfying. He was incapable of bigotry or blind partisanship. He had, neither by inheritance nor culture, in law, politics, religion or science, any least characteristic of the traditional Pharisee. His opinions, which he held with reasonable firmness, were always open to revision and correction, and the truth was always and everywhere his supreme ideal.
His life, so genuine, so attractive, lifts our hearts as we feel, and rejoice in the feeling, how good and true a man may be; it transfigures our human nature into the ideal of its birthright of holy charm.
We may not enter the sanctities of a home and a home circle which his presence filled with radiance and affection. But we may remember the spot which was his birthplace and residence: Litchfield, with its picturesque beauty, and its marked influence upon the professional, judicial and political history of our commonwealth, and its social life, abundant in courtesy, and intelligence and refinement. Perhaps no single community of like numbers in our state or in the country has yielded better results in many good ways, notably in the culture of jurisprudence and in the development of a charming sociality, simple, free from snobbery and pride, and full of neighborly kindness and refinement. With most of the honored Litchfield names Judge Seymour was connected by family ties or personal intimacy, and his life was a natural and complete growth, in flower and fruit, of that brave soil.
Judge Seymour is mourned by the bar and by the bench of the state with a common and tender grief. Years of closest intimacy bound many manly hearts to him with a love which may not be told, but which must be undying. His grave is the tomb of hope and promise and of a life broken when it was strongest. He was buried in the afternoon of a gentle October day, when the sun shone through the clouds and brightened the gold and scarlet and crimson of fading nature, and he was buried in love.
*Prepared at the request of the reporter by Henry C. Robinson, Esq., of the Hartford bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 58, page iii
Appointed by the General Assembly in 1889 to fill the vacancy created by Judge BEARDSLEY'S resignation.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 62, page iii
Died October 16th, 1892.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports volume 48, pages 592 - 602
HON. ORIGEN STORRS SEYMOUR, Ex-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State, died at Litchfield, where he was born and had always resided, on the 12th of August, 1881, in the seventy-eighth year of his age.
Judge Seymour was a man of very rare qualities of mind and heart. It is safe to assert that no member of the Connecticut Bar ever drew to himself in larger measure the respect and affection of his professional brethren and the confidence and esteem of the public at large.
Judge Seymour was born February 9th, 1804. His father was Ozias Seymour, for many years sheriff of Litchfield County. His grandfather, Maj. Moses Seymour, bore a distinguished part in the Revolutionary War. Gov. Horatio Seymour of New York, Senator Horatio Seymour of Vermont, and many other noted public men of the name, were his family relatives. He graduated at Yale College in the class of 1824. His college standing was very good, although from weakness of eyes he was compelled much of the time to depend on having his lessons read to him by others. After his graduation he studied law and was admitted to the bar of Litchfield County in 1826. He entered into partnership with Mr. George C. Woodruff, and soon rose to a leading position in the very able bar then practicing in that county. He frequently represented the town of Litchfield in the legislature, and was elected Speaker of the House in 1850. In 1851 he was elected to Congress, and again in 1853. In 1855, on the reorganization of the courts, he was elected by the General Assembly one of the four new judges of the Superior Court. His eight years, term expired in 1863, just after a severe and bitter political contest growing out of the civil war, between the Republican party, which favored the prosecution of the war, and the Democratic party, which favored a peace in which the former had carried the state. Judge Seymour had been from early life and always remained a member of the Democratic party, and though he had given great satisfaction as a judge, there had grown up, in the heated state of public feeling, a distrust on the part of the prevailing party of all judges who adhered to the Democratic party, especially in view of very important legal questions that might come before the courts, with regard to measures taken in support of the war. In this state of things Judges Seymour and Waldo, two of the most upright judges that ever sat upon a bench, and whose thorough loyalty no one could seriously question, were dropped and the vacancies filled by new appointments. Judge Seymour at once resumed practice at the bar, going into partnership with his son, Edward W. Seymour, then a leading lawyer in Litchfield.
In 1864 and again in 1865 Judge Seymour was nominated for Governor by his party, but the favorable turn of the war and the passage of a constitutional amendment allowing soldiers to vote in the army gave the Republican candidate a large majority in both years. In 1870 a Republican legislature atoned in some measure for the injustice before done him by electing him with great unanimity a judge of the Supreme Court. In 1873, upon the death of Chief Justice Butler, he was elected Chief Justice, and held that position till he retired under the constitutional limitation as to age in 1874. It is a fact worthy of notice that he was elected to a seat upon the benches of the Superior and Supreme courts and finally to the chief-justiceship by legislatures that were opposed to him in politics.
After his retirement from the bench Judge Seymour was almost constantly employed in the hearing of causes as a referee. He had the public confidence in so high a degree that his services in this character were sought from every part of the state. In 1876 he was chairman of the commission whose labors finally settled the long disputed boundary between this state and New York. He also did a public work of great value as the presiding member of the commission which prepared the new code of practice which was adopted by the legislature in 1879. He gave much careful thought and labor to the matter and it was largely the influence of his name that led to its adoption. After its enactment he delivered public lectures at Hartford and before the Yale Law School in explanation of it.
Judge Seymour was a man of great judicial capacity. His mind worked without friction. It was saturated with legal principles, the result of a thorough digestion of what he read rather than of extensive reading. With this knowledge of legal principles he had a remarkably sound judgment in applying them. There was no feature of his mind more noticeable than his common sense. He had a perfect comprehension of fine legal distinctions, but no fondness for mere legal casuistry. He had a strong sense of justice, and while versed in technicalities could never willingly sacrifice justice to them.
But it was the moral qualities of the man that drew to him the public esteem in so large measure, and which entered so largely into his judicial character. He was a man of the most absolute integrity; he was perfectly fair-minded; was conscientious in the highest degree; patient in listening to testimony and argument, even when a good excuse might have been found, if ever, for impatience and inattention; he was of the most unruffled temper; he was full of kindness and sympathy, the only criticism to which he was open on the bench being that he was too unwilling to give a party the pain which an adverse decision would sometimes inflict, but his convictions were clear and decided and his conscience gave them the authority to which they were entitled. Without the slightest descent from self-respect and independence, he yet conciliated every one with whom he came in contact by the kindliness of his manner and the manifest goodness of his heart. The younger members of the profession, who came before him in the trial or argument of causes, have reason to remember with gratitude the friendly interest which he took in them.
He was a man wholly without pretension. He was never opinionated. He had no self-assertion. It would hardly be possible for one to be more utterly unassuming than he. It was in a great measure this lack of all assumption that gave him such a hold upon the plain people about him. Juries always trusted him when at the bar. All who knew him felt certain of him as a man of "simplicity and godly sincerity." His simplicity of manner was but the natural garb of the simplicity of his heart.
Yet with all he had a rare shrewdness. He was a good judge of human character and motives. He could not be imposed upon by pretences and plausibilities. He saw through such artifices as quickly as through sophistries in argument.
He had a great love of nature. The beautiful landscape on which he daily looked was like daily food to him. There were few things that he enjoyed more than driving with friends over the charming region about Litchfield and calling their attention to the beauty of the scenery. He loved flowers. His growing crops, the ripening fruit upon his trees, were watched with less of pecuniary interest than of an almost poetic enthusiasm.
And he was a thoroughly religious man. He was helped to this by his fine spiritual nature, which was indeed the foundation of his whole character. He was from early manhood a communicant in the Episcopal Church, and in the parish with which he was connected was one of the most active members, always representing it as delegate in the conventions of the diocese, and for several years past representing the laymen of the diocese in the national triennial conventions of the church. He was always very liberal in his gifts to religious and charitable objects.
Judge Seymour was married on the 5th day of October, 1830, to Miss Lucy Morris Woodruff, a daughter of Gen. Morris Woodruff, a prominent citizen of Litchfield, and sister of his law partner George C. Woodruff, Esq. She survives him, with three of their sons, Edward W. and Morris W. Seymour, who are in the practice of law at Bridgeport in this state, and Rev. Storrs O. Seymour, who is now rector of St. Michael's parish at Litchfield. He suffered a great affliction in the loss of an only daughter three years before his own death.
On the 5th day of October, 1880, Judge Seymour and his wife celebrated their golden wedding amidst their relatives and friends, many attending from all parts of the state and some from other states. The occasion was one of exceeding interest. It brought into deserved notice the charming home life which, with its support and solace and inspiration, had underlain his laborious professional and public life. Throughout the day, which was hallowed by a tender and impressive communion service at the church in the morning, the venerable pair, serene and saintly, received the homage of reverence and affection; while nature, loved of them both, seemed eager to show her gratitude by an unmeasured tribute of flowers. The autumn day was suggestive of the receding year and of ripened lives, and to him it proved far more than the golden bound of the half century. Before the next autumn came he had passed, in the beauty of his life's completeness, from the earthly into the eternal years.
In the Superior Court at its next session in Litchfield, before Judge Loomis, Ex-Governor Andrews, in presenting the resolutions of the bar of the county on the occasion of the death of Judge Seymour, addressed the court as follows:-
"A great sorrow has fallen on the bar. Only a short time ago he, who by age, by service and fame, had long been our leader, passed from our midst forever.
"My brethren have assigned to me the honorable duty of presenting to the court a testimonial of their respect for the deceased and their grief at his loss, and of asking that it be spread on the records."
[The resolutions were here read by the clerk.]
"Judge Seymour died on the morning of the 12th of August last, at about the hour of one o'clock. His death was not unexpected, yet as the day dawned and his fellow citizens came to know that he was no more, a solemn and profound grief settled upon the whole community. The court-house in which so large a part of his life had been spent was appropriately draped. His professional brethren from this county and from other parts of the state attended his funeral. And as we came back from his grave - the solemn words of the burial service still lingering in our ears - one sentiment seemed to pervade us all: that the good man whose death we so much deplored had not wholly died; that he still lived in our remembrance of his warm and steady friendships and social virtues, in those legal judgments, exhibiting his vast attainments in the law, which, among others, have given to the Connecticut Reports the character of a commanding authority, and in those labors by which the avenues where all men are compelled to seek justice have been, in some measure, freed from their clogs and pit-falls. In these things he still lives, and in these things not only we but succeeding generations shall hold speech with him. Vivit enım, vıvet que semper; atque etiam latius in memoriâıa hominum et sermone versabitur, postquam ab oculis recessit."
[After giving at some length the principal events of the life of the judge, Gov. Andrews proceeded as follows:]
"This is the record of an exceedingly active, busy and useful life. How brief it seems, and yet how wide it reaches. Justice is the soft but enduring band which holds men together in organized society. It is the great interest of men on earth, and whoever ministers at her altar or contributes anything to make the foundations of her temple more firm or to raise its dome nearer to the skies, joins his name and fame to that which must be as enduring as the frame of human society. Throughout a long life our deceased friend wrought with zeal and fidelity in this work.
"Those of us who practiced before Judge Seymour while he was on the bench know how well fitted he was for that high position. In the first place he was eminently learned - learned in the books, and his memory was wonderfully stored with that learning which comes from experience. In his long practice at the bar and service on the bench nothing had escaped him. No case was so complicated nor was any difficulty so great but somewhere in his memory there was a precedent or a rule to solve it. And then he knew how to use his learning. This is a great gift. He had that many-sided faculty which enabled him to adapt means to ends, to compare, modify, adjust, and reconcile the testimony of witnesses, and amid a multitude of conflicting and contradictory statements to find where the truth lay. He was a man of the strictest integrity, and what is more, he possessed the perfect confidence of the community. He received every one of his judicial appointments from his political opponents. It is not enough for a judge to be honest. No one can come up to the measure of a good judge unless he is believed to be such. It is this belief which gives power to the sword he bears.
"And then he had great patience and kindness of heart and charity for the weaknesses of men. Moreover he was a steady believer in liberty, as defined by the first John Winthrop, the privilege `to do that only which is good and just and honest.' In the history of all the great men who have adorned the bench in our state I can hardly name one who possessed more useful faculties for that high magistracy or possessed them in larger degree than Judge Seymour.
"With judges such as he it matters little who controls the other departments of government. `Let us repose, secure, under the shade of a learned, impartial and trusted magistracy, and we need no more.' "
Judge Loomis replied as follows:-
"Before ordering to be recorded on the records of this court the resolutions of the bar of this county relative to the late Judge Seymour, my heart prompts me to add a few words of tribute - poor and inadequate as they may be to do justice to his memory.
"I well and gratefully remember the lasting impression made by his kindness seventeen years ago, when, for the first time, a young and inexperienced judge, I came to preside over this court, oppressed with despondent feelings and distrustful of my own qualifications for this high office. On that occasion his kind and friendly greeting and his generous words of commendation and encouragement greatly cheered me in my work and will never be forgotten by me. From that day until the day of his death it was my high privilege to enjoy his personal friendship and to be the recipient of his kindness, encouragement and hospitality.
"With the sentiments contained in the resolutions now before the court and with all the words of eulogy here uttered in regard to the personal, professional and official character of Judge Seymour, I fully concur. Glowing tributes have been elsewhere given, indeed they seem to have come spontaneously from every part of our state, all in perfect accord. And not only does the profession to which he belonged and of which he was the head and most radiant example, award him the high praise, but he shared also the confidence, affection and reverence of the people generally. And yet I know of no man who has taken less pains to court public favor by using the common artifices that are supposed to gain it. This strong attachment on the part of the people for him is however explainable on the principle that he who sincerely shows himself friendly will have friends.
"Judge Seymour was eminently and proverbially kind to all - high or low, rich or poor. His every act and look and word gave evidence of this. It was the recognition of this trait that called forth the facetious and perhaps rather extravagant remark that I once heard from a lawyer in this state, to the effect that if Judge Seymour decided a case against a man, the latter always thought he had won the case.
"Such a lively tenderness for the feeling of others I have rarely, if ever, witnessed in any man. He was sincerely friendly, generous and self-sacrificing and thoroughly good. But while he had warm attachments, yet, as a judge, we can say of him that his friendships never perverted his judgments. No man's friendship availed him with the court, and no man's displeasure prejudiced his cause. On the bench he presided with dignity, utterly devoid of ostentation or display. His legal opinions, while a member of the Supreme Court, are celebrated for their point, simplicity and common sense, as well as for a clear comprehension of all the law and facts connected with or bearing upon the case.
"In every relation which he sustained, whether private, professional or official, I would characterize him as of spotless purity of life and motive, of grave yet kind and gentle manners, of unwearied patience of application, of clear, vigorous and healthy understanding, and of a passionless judgment which sought truth for its own sake.
"Another thing not yet mentioned always excited my admiration. His heart and sympathies, always fresh and enthusiastic, were finely attuned in harmony with all that is beautiful or grand in the realm of mature. In walking or riding with him I have often noticed how his emotions would kindle and glow as he drank in the glories of some vast landscape; and at the same time with all the poetic fervor and appreciation of a Burns, he would notice and expatiate on the beauty of some humble wayside flower.
"But I refrain from any further attempt to describe his many merits. Surely it is not necessary before these, his professional associates and neighbors, in this, his native town, to whose historic scroll, luminous before with a constellation of great and illustrious men, his name and memory will add a new and never-fading star.
"In conclusion I wish to say this to the members of the Litchfield county bar. You have a rich legacy in his precious memory. This lofty idea of personal and professional character will ever be with you beckoning you onward and upward. All may not reach such eminence and such honor; but all, inspired by his illustrious example, may honor their high calling and profession. What will endure longest and glow brightest is not his extensive legal attainments, nor his high intellectual abilities, but rather his spotless justice, virtue and goodness. All history shows that virtue is the true immortalizer. The truly good are the truly great. A lawyer is the servant of his fellow men for the attainment of justice. If there is lowliness in the idea of being a servant, what loftiness in the object! If the lawyer is the servant of earth, at the same time he may be the minister of Heaven."
At a meeting of the Hartford Bar, called upon the occasion of Judge Seymour's death, the venerable Judge Waldo, who himself died a few weeks after, presented some appropriate resolutions, and in remarking upon them referred in touching terms to the long and intimate friendship existing between himself and Judge Seymour, while on the bench of the Superior Court together and earlier during their public life at Washington, and closed by saying that in all the long years he had known him he knew of no stain upon his life or blemish upon his character.
Ex-Governor Hubbard spoke as follows:
"I think we can all say, in very truth and soberness, and with nothing of extravagance in eulogy, that we have just lost the foremost, undeniably the foremost lawyer, and, take him for all in all, the noblest citizen of our state.
"He possessed, to begin with, an intellect which, if not brilliant or original, was receptive and absorbent in a very high degree, and which not only held and assimilated its stores, but weighed them, as it were, in balances. Besides this judicial temper of mind, he brought to the bench very ample attainments in the science of the law, a large and varied experience in practice at the bar, and a certain sinewy common sense which added to his other attainments a practical working value that nothing else could have given. I hardly need add - what would naturally result from the premises - that he had a large measure of what is known amongst lawyers as judicial wisdom, that supreme endowment of a judge.
"Accordingly, though possessed of a discriminating intellect, he did not suffer it to become too subtle and absolute in the applications of legal science to the varied and ever varying affairs of men. He had an abundance of case learning, but was not a case lawyer. His opinions rarely failed to reach the very heart of a cause, were always simple and direct both in manner and matter, and never overlaid with a parade of learning, though never reached without much care and research.
"Neither did he ever attempt to display his quickness of parts by running ahead of the evidence or argument in a cause, as the manner of some is, and prejudging the conclusion by hasty prepossessions. He was well aware that it is a thousand times easier to lodge a truth in the mind than to dislodge an error. He seemed to realize that the learning of the bar is as indispensable to the bench as the learning of the bench to justice, and that, as Lord Bacon says - perhaps somewhat too absolutely - "it is no grace to a judge first to find that which he might in due time have learned from the bar." In a word, he was never so quick-witted as to distance the cause, nor on the other hand so dull-witted as to get distanced by it.
"I have never known a judge who was more scrupulously watchful of the movements of a trial, more intent on the precise matter in hand, more completely totus in illis. His wits were never wool-gathering, and he abstained from bringing his epistolary and judicial faculty into hotchpot during a hearing. He never lacked in attention, even when counsel lacked in force or precision. He used, as you all remember, to take very few notes of evidence; but his ears and memory were marvelously alert to all the disclosures of the cause. He had a habit of listening to an argument with closed eyes - owing, I suppose, to weakness of vision; but how sleepless his attention and reason were! and how those shut eyes of his used to open with mild surprise, sometimes with expressive reproach, at any perversion of fact or law or any other abuse either in matter or manner of the just liberties of argument.
"He seemed to me to possess in a marked degree what we are accustomed to call the judicial conscience. His moral sense was keen and discriminating, and he had a quick scent for the discovery of fraud, falsehood and oppression in the entanglements of a cause. He was made up for a great chancellor. Such an office he would have filled to its full, and made it illustrious with the noble ethics of equity law carried home to the business of men.
"And this leads me to say a word of his recent services as a law reformer. You would have said in advance that he was the last lawyer in the state to rebel against an old hereditary bondage of the law. Like the man in the iron mask, he had got used to it and lived and grown old in it. But he saw and felt, what some of our best lawyers have found it so difficult to see and feel - that the law has remained for centuries a dead and cowardly conservatism, rusted and crusted all over with what Burke in the glamour of his eloquence calls `the awful hoar of innumerable ages.' How bold and courageous he was for reform, and yet how careful, discreet and wise, let our new system of civil procedure testify. By this work more than by all else he has done he has left his mark on the jurisprudence of the state. The fame of the best lawyer ordinarily goes with him into his coffin; but I cannot doubt that this service of his rendered to law reform will make his name and fame abide in honor when the lives of the rest of us shall be as a watch in the night that is past.
"And now, in conclusion, this half century of just and useful lifework done, this race of honor run and won, not without sweat and toil, we commend with one accord and a common love, grief and homage, this Christian sleeper to the hospitable bosom of our common mother, till the day break and the shadows flee away; and so, in the saintly language of the saintly Fuller: `We leave our good judge to receive a just reward of his integrity from the Judge of judges at the great assize of the world.' "
"Mr. William Hamersley, State's Attorney, after describing the qualities indispensable to a great lawyer and judge, said:-
"It is the rare combination of qualities which make the true lawyer that determines the professional rank of Judge Seymour. In describing the typical lawyer we give the truest description of his character. As advocate, counsellor, judge, legislator for church and state and nation, we find him true to this high standard.
"And beyond all this, he had the gift of impressing his acts with a rare kindness of heart. His way through life was not only sternly true, but at every step it flowers with kindly thoughts and generous acts.
"Wonder has often been expressed that during his last years, at an age we are accustomed to associate with a dread of change, he should have devoted himself with the enthusiasm of youth to promoting reforms in the law. Such a course is not really strange in view of his life and character; but it serves to illustrate most strongly both his full comprehension of the nature of his profession and his high appreciation of its duties."
"Mr. Henry C. Robinson, after remarking that he could not recall the occasion when the Hartford Bar had met for greater mourning, and referring to some incidents of the life of Judge Seymour, spoke as follows:-
"Sixty years ago, a student at Yale, he encountered obstacles in the way of study which would have disheartened most young men. He was almost entirely deprived of eyesight, and for many terms his lessons were learned chiefly from the lips of his room-mate. But with this immense limitation he took away almost the highest academic honor.
"Perhaps in that very discipline he developed his remarkable memory, which has so often excited our wonder, and which enabled him almost without note or memorandum to carry the details of testimony and the links of reasoning in his retentive mind. It was not just such a memory as Lord Macaulay's, which he was proud to claim was so exact that, were every printed copy of Paradise Lost and Pilgrim's Progress destroyed, he could reproduce them both without the loss of a word. But it was a memory which sifted out the waste of testimony and argument, often so extensive and dreary, and held, as in crystal, things which were relevant and controlling.
"Judge Seymour brought to the bench and bar absolute purity of purpose, great natural justice, sharp insight, and large comprehensiveness. To these he added the drill of constant intellectual exercise, the thorough study of judicial investigations, and the constantly renewed view of elemental principles.
"Judge Seymour's closing years are worthy of description by the pen of a John Wilson, there was in them so much of pathos and tenderness and beauty; living on the green hills of Litchfield, drinking in the beauties of every sunset and cloud and wild flower, loved by every neighbor, revered by a leading profession, honored by a State, fresh in the power of every intellectual faculty, and at last his long day of usefulness sinking in a short twilight, and ministered to in his weakness by hands of uncommon love."
"An appreciative sketch of the Judge's character was contributed to one of the public journals by Greene Kendrick, Esq., of the Waterbury bar, from which the following extract is taken:-
"On whatever side Judge Seymour touched life, - whether in a civil, political, judicial or religious relation, his integrity was not faint-hued, but manly, in-grained, and sharply defined. Theoretic morals and the easy, shifting standard of modern honesty found in him neither an admirer nor a follower. He lived, to borrow the words of a quaint writer, by old ethics and classical rules of honor. To his mind right and wrong were realities, they were no mere relative terms of indefinite application. His probity of character was of so exact and even a type that it might almost be styled mathematical.
"To appreciate fully Judge Seymour's character one must have seen him among his acquaintances, his professional brethren and friends. It was once said of Scott by a day-laborer, that he spoke to every man as if he had been a blood-relation. The same remark may be applied to Judge Seymour with a peculiar fitness. He belonged to that class of men, of which every age yields far too scanty a supply, `born to be loved, honored and esteemed.' His character was simple and his heart was warm. A bearing ever courteous gave him a dignity and a veritable nobility of nature; hence, he reaped a large harvest of men's confidence and affections.
"No chilling haughtiness of manner or severe gravity of deportment in him repelled either stranger or friend. The variety and extent of his knowledge was a rich fund of instruction to all who sought to avail themselves of his counsel. He possessed that sweetness of temper, that genial sympathy which ever caused his visitor to leave his presence with a lighter step. When the ear heard him it blessed him; and when the eye saw him, it gave witness to him.
"At the bar, on the bench, in every position which Judge Seymour was called to adorn, he was unpretentious, unaffected, unselfish. The description of the typical lawyer, given by himself on retiring from the bench in 1874, seemed aptly to illustrate his own character. `If,' he remarked, `one has mind, industry, learning and culture, he shows it; his temper and disposition will show themselves. If he has integrity and truthfulness in him, they will appear. If, on the contrary, he is a sham, everybody will see it.'
"A life extending over more than three-quarters of a century brought Judge Seymour to a full knowledge of the significance of life, of what earth affords and what manhood means. He formed in himself a precedent of real greatness. His manly practice at the bar, his patience and suavity on the bench, his tender sympathies with the unfortunate and afflicted, his gentlemanly deportment everywhere and on all occasions, his hospitality, his generosity, his integrity, his incorruptibility, form, in a sentence, the picture of his life, as recently delineated by one who knew and who appreciated his friendship and his worth."
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 37, page iii
Appointed [Judge of the Supreme Court of Errors] by the General Assembly, in May, 1870.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 40, page iii
Elected by the General Assembly at its May session, 1873, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Chief Justice Butler.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 41, page iii
Term expired by constitutional limitation as to age, February 9th, 1874.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 127, pages 731 - 732
Origen Storrs Seymour, judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Litchfield County, died on May 22, 1940.
Seldom has it happened that the obituary notice of a great lawyer and judge has described the essential human characteristics of a son and a grandson. 48 Conn. 592 is not the citation of a case, but the spiritualized story of the life of Chief Justice Origen Storrs Seymour; it should be required reading for every lawyer. In 62 Conn. 604 you will read the life of his eldest son, Edward W. Seymour, a justice of our Supreme Court, who while in the practice of law had been in partnership with his younger brother, Morris W. Seymour, the father of our Origen Storrs Seymour. The strength and beauty of the Litchfield hills, the culture of the golden age of Litchfield, were in all these men. Having read these citations, you will know and understand the modern Origen Seymour, and will need only the deep understanding of his associates on the bench of the Court of Common Pleas as expressed in resolution: "Judge Seymour was not merely a good lawyer, an excellent judge, an active and religious churchman, a wise counselor and businessman, a devoted husband and father, a genial clubman and host, a lover of Yale and her life, a delightful companion, a splendid public servant and a true friend, but he combined all of these virtues into one sparkling and magnetic personality. He was, at all times, a gentleman in the highest and truest sense. He radiated enthusiasm for every activity in which he engaged. One moment he was again the college boy reliving his college days and rejoining Psi Upsilon and Wolf's Head. The next moment he was the serious and dignified judge; and yet, the next, he was the solemn and pious churchman. He loved life and found joy and happiness in living."
There remains to be said only that he was born in Bridgeport, April 19, 1872, educated at Phillips Andover and at Yale, practiced law in New Haven with Watrous and Buckland, in New York with William B. Hornblower and with various leading firms, as a partner, came back to Litchfield in 1933, and served as judge of the Court of Common Pleas from 1936 until his death. Thus, after a busy and useful life in New York, he returned to his ancestral town, to live simply and helpfully and happily. He was chairman of the Litchfield board of education, director in many corporations, chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, a director of the Norwich State Hospital.
On October 25, 1899 he married Frances Bolton Lord, daughter of Daniel Lord, distinguished head of the law firm of Lord, Day and Lord of New York. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Little emphasis is to be placed upon his distinguished and aristocratic heritage: he stood upon his own feet. His greatness was his simplicity. We all come from a common source.
"And what binds man
Since each is of the
same God born?
Such was the creed of Origen Seymour.
*Prepared by Hon. Arthur F. Ells, of Litchfield.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 152, page iii
Appointed to the Supreme Court April 6, 1965, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Hon. William J. Shea.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 154, page iii
Retired July 21, 1966, under constitutional limitation as to age.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 217, pages 818 - 819
1905 - 1991
The Honorable Louis J. Shapiro, a state referee and former Justice of the Supreme Court, died on February 8, 1991.
Justice Shapiro was born in New York City on February 7, 1905. He graduated from Hartford Public High School in 1923 and from Hartford College of Law in 1933. He was admitted to the Connecticut Bar in 1934.
Justice Shapiro began the private practice of law in the Unionville section of Farmington in 1934. He was appointed a judge of the Unionville Borough Court in 1939 and held that post for two years. In 1941, he was elected to the state House of Representatives, where he served until 1953. His tenure in the legislature included service as chairman of the Judiciary Committee from 1947 to 1950 and majority leader in the House from 1951 to 1953.
Justice Shapiro served as a member of the Commission to Revise the General Statutes from 1945 to 1949 and was Town Counsel of Farmington from 1948 to 1953.
In 1953, Governor John Lodge nominated Justice Shapiro to the Superior Court. He served as a member of the Judicial Council from 1968 to 1969 and was Chief Judge of the Superior Court from 1966 to 1970. In 1970, Justice Shapiro was elevated to the Supreme Court by Governor John Dempsey. From 1970 to 1980, he served as chairman of the State Board of Education and Services for the Blind. He became a state referee in 1975 and served as a state trial referee until June 30, 1990.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 159, page iii
Appointed to the Supreme Court May 31, 1969, to take effect April 21, 1970.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 167, page iii
Retired February 7, 1975, under constitutional limitation as to age.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 123, pages 696 - 697
Samuel Carter Shaw was born in Redding, Connecticut, November 3d, 1866. He prepared for college in the Staples Free School and was graduated with honors from Yale University in 1891. He taught in private schools several years, studied law in New York Law School and Harvard Law School, and was admitted to the bar of this State in 1899. He practiced law in Bridgeport until 1927 when he was appointed judge of the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas, serving upon that bench until his retirement in 1936 by reason of the constitutional age limitation.
Judge Shaw's career at the bar was marked by devotion to the highest ideals of the profession. He was a student of the law, and a sound lawyer who gave his clients wise advice and upon whose judgment they could safely rely. He inspired confidence and deserved it, and thus quite naturally his services were frequently sought in a fiduciary capacity. He served as treasurer of the Fairfield County Law Library Association, as a member of the Fairfield County grievance committee and was president of the Bridgeport Bar Association in 1922. He represented his native town in the Legislature for three terms and was majority leader in the State Senate in the session of 1927.
Upon the bench of the Common Pleas Court Judge Shaw maintained the high repute of that court set by a long line of distinguished judges. He was eminently fitted in character and learning for judicial place. He possessed the judicial temperament - the ability to reserve judgment until all the evidence and arguments had been heard. He was an able, conscientious and just judge who loved his work and did it well. Always courteous, dignified and fair, he won the high regard and affection of the bar which was fittingly expressed in the tribute paid him the last day that he sat upon the bench.
Judge Shaw was active in all matters affecting the interests of Yale University of which he was an exceptionally loyal alumnus. He had served as president of the Yale Alumni Association of Fairfield County, and of the New England Yale Clubs and at the time of his death was a member of the Yale Alumni Board and president of the University Club of Bridgeport. He was deeply interested in the welfare of his native town and took a leading part in all town affairs.
Judge Shaw exemplified in his life the finest qualities of our New England tradition. He served his state with distinction in the Legislature and upon the bench. His private life was rich in friendship and unselfish deeds and devotion to his family. He married on November 22d, 1905, Margaret Seefeld Adams, who predeceased him by less than a year. He is survived by a son, Frederick Sanford Shaw, a daughter Margaret Elizabeth Shaw and two stepsons, Pierpoint Adams and Kempton Adams.
*Prepared by Hon. John W. Banks, of Bridgeport.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 217, pages 813 - 815
REMARKS BY CHIEF JUSTICE ELLEN A. PETERS ON THE OCCASION OF JUSTICE ANGELO G. SANTANIELLO'S TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY AND JUSTICE DAVID M. SHEA'S TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY ON THE CONNECTICUT BENCH
January 8, 1991
Before we begin to hear the cases scheduled to initiate this year's court calendar, I would like to take this opportunity to honor a very special event in the history of this court. On the first of January, not one but two distinguished members of this court marked an anniversary of unusual distinction: twenty-five years of service as members of the judiciary of this state. Senior Associate Justice Angelo G. Santaniello and Associate Justice David M. Shea: we salute your extraordinary record of exemplary achievement!....
Let me turn now to the illustrious judicial career of Justice David M. Shea. On January 1, 1966, Justice Shea was sworn in and became a member of the Superior Court. For fifteen years he served, with distinction, to adjudicate the variety of civil and criminal cases on that court's regular docket and for several years he served as well on its sentence review division and on its appellate session. On November 9, 1981, he was appointed to the Supreme Court, where he is now the senior among our associate justices. Having cheerfully undertaken numerous committee assignments over the years, he currently chairs the Rules Committee, certainly the most demanding of all the committee assignments that any justice can undertake.
Justice Shea's interest in judicial administration pales, however, compared to his consuming interest in the judicial process itself. In his public persona, Justice Shea is invariably well prepared for oral argument, always ready to ask the searching question, always curious about the larger implications as well as the precise contours of the case at bar. Within the court, in conference and in chambers, he is a devoted teacher of his law clerks and an excellent colleague for the bench. For a chief justice, he is a great resource, because he willingly takes on the toughest cases.
I would take up a good part of this morning if I were to attempt to summarize the more than 250 majority opinions that Justice Shea has already written during his tenure on this court. Among the most impressive certainly are Cologne v. Westfarms Associates and State v. Marsala, in which Justice Shea, once for a majority and once for a unanimous court, has helped to define the operational contours of the declaration of rights contained in our state constitution.
In other cases ranging widely across the legal landscape, Justice Shea has written countless important civil and criminal opinions that have helped to illuminate the law governing such diverse topics as environmental controls, foreclosures, public housing, corpus delicti and the competency of child witnesses. Consummately well versed in the law of procedure, Justice Shea has been sensitive both to the strengths and to the weaknesses of appellate dispositions that resolve cases without reaching their substantive merits.
It is, however, not only as an author of majority opinions that Justice Shea has made his mark. Although other members of this court have long felt free to voice their disagreements, Justice Shea's record, already encompassing more than 120 vigorous dissents and concurrences, is not likely to be replicated soon. It is a great testament to Justice Shea's collegial skills that the force of his more than occasional intellectual disagreement has in no way tempered the mutual admiration and respect that he shares with the remainder of the court.
Justice Santaniello and Justice Shea, on behalf of your colleagues on this court and throughout the Judicial Department, I congratulate you on your many achievements. We applaud your many years of dedicated service in the interests of justice for the people of the state of Connecticut. Best of all, we recognize how fortunate we are that we will continue to have the benefit of your judicial services for many years to come! I now declare this brief ceremony closed, and ask the sheriff to open court.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 221, pages 929 - 931
REMARKS BY CHIEF JUSTICE ELLEN A. PETERS ON THE OCCASION OF JUSTICE DAVID M. SHEA'S LAST DAY OF HEARING CASES AS A MEMBER OF THE CONNECTICUT SUPREME COURT
February 20, 1992
Before we start hearing cases on today's calendar, we will take a few moments to mark a milestone in the changing composition of this court. For more than ten years, Justice David M. Shea has enriched our jurisprudence with his incisive questions from the bench, with his reflective opinions and with his provocative dissents. With profound appreciation for his outstanding judicial service, and great regret at his imminent departure when he celebrates his seventieth birthday, I must report that this is the last day on which Justice David M. Shea will be sitting to hear cases as a member of this court.
Someone reading Justice Shea's self-effacing and skeletonic biographical sketch in the Connecticut State Register and Manual, which records his twenty-six years as a jurist, might understandably overlook the fact that he was not always a judge! Yet at conference he often refers, with pleasure, to the satisfaction he derived from the practice of law for eighteen years with the law firm of Bailey, Wechsler and Shea.
Justice Shea's learning from practice, wed to the sound intellectual underpinnings from which he benefitted at the Yale Law School, have combined to produce an approach to the law that is imbued with common sense about procedure and with realism about what courts can accomplish substantively. It is therefore altogether unsurprising that Justice Shea's fulfilling career as an attorney was followed, beginning on January 1, 1966, by an illustrious judicial career. Widely recognized as a scholar, Justice Shea took to the bench as the well known "duck to water."
Because I am most familiar with his work on the Supreme Court, let me briefly highlight this aspect of his judicial life. During his distinguished tenure on this court, Justice Shea has contributed more than 300 majority opinions to the development of Connecticut jurisprudence. Justice Shea has helped us to refine areas of the law that have long been familiar, such as Connecticut zoning law, and to explore areas of the law that hardly existed when he was in practice, let alone in law school.
One example of such an exploration is the problem of deciding what meaning we should ascribe to constitutional provisions contained in our state constitution as a source of law independent of the constitution of the United States. Justice Shea's landmark opinions on state constitutional law resoundingly affirm the principles of dual sovereignty. They also illustrate that state constitutional law is no less controversial than is federal constitutional law. In the context of the respective roles of the legislature and the judiciary, Cologne v. Westfarms Associates discussed the extent to which our state constitution protects rights of free speech and petition when they clash with the rights of owners of private property. Some of us might still be inclined to draw that line differently. Pellegrino v. O'Neill recognized in principle the inherent power of the judicial branch to command the fiscal resources required to operate an effective system of justice, a principle recently tested in our neighboring state of New York, but determined that private citizens could not compel the legislature to remedy court congestion by appointing additional judges. Administrative experience has belatedly taught me the wisdom of Justice Shea's counsel to exercise judicial restraint.
On the criminal side of our calendar, Justice Shea's persuasive powers have never been more evident than in State v. Marsala, where he led a unanimous court to conclude that the "good faith" exception to the exclusionary rule is incompatible with the Connecticut constitution. Important for itself, that decision also led to a reconsideration of other related issues in our state constitutional approach to criminal law.
As is true for all of us, Justice Shea's views have not always commanded immediate majority support. The frequency (some seventy-nine, by the last unofficial count) and the vigor of his dissenting opinions are well known. His dissents have focused our attention on points of disagreement and have, on several occasions, become a significant part of Connecticut's legal landscape. For example, his reminder, in cases such as Andrew Ansaldi Co. v. Planning & Zoning Commission, that the rules of procedure should facilitate rather than obstruct litigation, helped to highlight the need for legislative as well as judicial reform.
Despite the extensive amount of time that Justice Shea devotes to the crafting of scholarly opinions, and to their discussion with his law clerk, he has always been available to assist in judicial administration. All the judges will miss his leadership as chairman of the Rules Committee of the Superior Court, and we on the Supreme Court will especially miss his prodigious institutional memory of the origin of many of our appellate rules.
In closing, I speak on behalf of every member of the Judicial Branch in thanking you, Justice Shea, for your many years of faithful service in the past and in extending to you our best wishes for good health and much happiness for the future. We are fortunate that your expertise will be available to us for many years to come as you continue in another facet of the judicial role, as a state trial referee.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 264, pages 923 - 928
Justice David M. Shea died on July 22, 2003, at the age of eighty-one. His judicial service in this state spanned more than thirty seven-years. Each day of that service, David Shea exemplified Socrates’ definition of the attributes of a good judge: to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly and to decide impartially. To this mix of admirable judicial attributes, David Shea added one more: boundless enthusiasm for exploring both the precise contours of a particular case and its implications for cases yet to come.
David Michael Shea spent almost all of his life in Hartford, where he was born on July 1,1922, the second child of Michael and Margaret O’Leary Shea. He was educated at Our Lady of Sorrows School and then at Hartford High School, from which he graduated in 1940. After military service in the United States Army during World War II, he returned to Connecticut to complete his education at Wesleyan University and Yale Law School. For the next eighteen years, he was happily engaged in the private practice of law, mostly with the Hartford firm of Bailey, Wechsler and Shea. Throughout his subsequent career as a judge, he continued to live in Hartford with his beloved wife Rosemary and their eight children. Except for family summers in Vermont, he was regularly to be seen on Hartford streets, briskly walking his two large collies.
Justice Shea’s judicial work began with his appointment as a judge of the Superior Court on January 1, 1966. Serving in that capacity for fifteen years, Justice Shea not only heard cases on the regular docket of the court but also served on its sentence review division and on its appellate session. On November 9, 1981, Justice Shea joined the Connecticut Supreme Court and remained an associate justice for the next eleven years until his constitutionally mandated retirement at the age of seventy in 1992. For another eleven years, he was a judge trial referee, undertaking responsibilities for trials, settlements and Appellate Court decision making. He brought his formidable judicial talents to bear wherever he was assigned.
The statistics of his work tell part of the story of Justice Shea’s legacy to the law of this state. On the Supreme Court, he wrote 322 majority opinions as well as sixty concurrences. Always independent of mind, he also wrote eighty-six dissents.
Numbers do not, however, convey the intellectual commitment and the consummate good sense with which Justice Shea undertook the crafting of scholarly opinions on the wide range of subjects that came to the Supreme Court during his eleven year tenure. For his colleagues and for his law clerks, he was always available for searching discussions about the cases on the court’s agenda and their likely consequences for future litigation. For one and all, he was a joy to work with because, unabashedly, he loved being a judge.
In addition to his judicial work, Justice Shea served for many years as the chairperson of the Rules Committee of the Superior Court. His prodigious institutional memory of the origins of various rules was an important resource on which his judicial colleagues were happy to rely. Indeed, procedural law was an area in which Justice Shea was especially knowledgeable. He frequently reminded the court that the purpose of rules of procedure was to facilitate rather than to obstruct litigation and he spearheaded the reform of administrative appeals in land use cases.*
It is impossible to capture the width and breadth of Justice Shea’s judicial career in a few short pages. Justice Shea’s contributions to state constitutional law may, however, serve as a surrogate. Although Justice Shea’s views of the provisions of the Connecticut constitution were sometimes controversial, each of his opinions reflected a keen understanding of the importance of these constitutional provisions and a keen concern for the role of a Judiciary in applying open-ended constitutional language. It is in the area of state constitutional law that Justice Shea’s opinions have cast the longest shadow.
Three cases illustrate the manner in which Justice Shea, writing for the court, addressed state constitutional issues. In Cologne v. Westfarms Associates, 192 Conn. 48, 57, 469 A.2d 1201 (1984), he recognized the independent role of the free speech provision of our constitution, holding that “[f]ederal law, whether based upon statute or constitution, establishes a minimum national standard for the exercise of individual rights and does not inhibit state governments from affording higher levels of protection for such rights.” In Pellegrino v. O’Neill, 193 Conn. 670, 676, 480 A.2d 476 (1984), he articulated the principle that, as a matter of state law, “the constitutional obligations to provide justice without undue delay and to afford due process of law must be taken to empower the courts charged with that responsibility to have access to the state treasury in an emergency for any funds reasonably necessary for that purpose.” In each of these cases, he nonetheless concluded that the plaintiffs could not prevail. By contrast, in Tamm v. Bums, 222 Conn. 280, 610 A.2d 590 (1992), he reiterated, as a prior case had held, that the state could not rely on sovereign immunity to defeat a plaintiffs claim for just compensation for property taken by the state, reasoning that “the doctrine of sovereign immunity is not available to the state as a defense to claims for just compensation arising under article first, § 11, of the Connecticut constitution.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., 283.
Despite his principled recognition of state constitutional law, Justice Shea was reluctant to construe state constitutional language that mirrored that of the federal constitution to achieve an outcome that departed from established federal constitutional case law. He thus dissented from cases holding that, under the state constitution’s due process clause, a custodial suspect must be informed that an attorney is ready to provide legal guidance** and that under the state constitution’s confrontation clause, a child victim may testify on videotape.*** In his view, in the absence of persuasive historical evidence to the contrary, Connecticut constitutional law ordinarily should follow federal constitutional law.
In one of his most important opinions, however, Justice Shea went further. The case is State v. Marsala, 216 Conn. 160, 579 A.2d 58 (1990). The opening sentence of his opinion set the stage. ‘"The dispositive issue in this appeal is whether evidence seized by police officers in violation of our state constitution may be admitted during a criminal trial, as part of the state’s case-in-chief, under a ‘good faith’ exception to the exclusionary rule.” Id., 151. Justice Shea recognized that, in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 911-12, 104 S. Ct. 3406, 82 L. Ed. 2d 677 (1987), the United States Supreme Court, construing the federal constitution, had held such evidence to be admissible. Many state courts had followed suit. Nonetheless, for a unanimous Connecticut Supreme Court, he made it clear that the right answer to this question was a resounding “No.”
Justice Shea’s reasoning was compelling. He focused on Leon’s premise that exclusion of evidence seized pursuant to a defective warrant would not have a significant deterrent effect either on the issuing judge or magistrate or on police officers preparing warrant applications. He disagreed with this premise. Drawing on his own experience as a trial court judge confronted with requests for warrant authorizations at all hours of the day and night, he held that the law should not create disincentives for police officers to search for a proper factual basis for an enforceable warrant or for judges to scrutinize warrant applications with care. The Marsala opinion commands respect because of Justice Shea’s effective blending of searching legal analysis with every day experience on the ground.
Finally, Justice Shea’s opinions, in state constitutional law and elsewhere, reflect his deep understanding of the relationship between legal principles and democratic principles. His opinion in Pellegrino speaks eloquently to these values. For the majority, he concluded that our state constitution did not confer on judges the authority to compel the legislature to appoint additional judges, even if their absence substantially impaired the ability of the judiciary to perform the mission that has constitutionally been assigned to it. He recognized that this was a difficult call. His opinion ended: “What then will become of the promise extracted from King John at Runnymede and enshrined in the Magna Charta to delay justice to none, which has been incorporated in article first, § 10 of our state constitution? We have declared ourselves unable to respond to its demand in the present context without exceeding our own constitutional authority. The answer must lie in the hearts and minds of the legislators, who are sworn to support the state as well as the federal constitution and to discharge their duties to the best of their abilities. General Statutes § 25. More fundamentally, it must rest with the people who elect them.” Pellegrino v. O’Neill, supra, 193 Conn. 685.
That was Justice David M. Shea. Although he was not a tall man, he was a giant of a judge.
*See, e.g., Andrew Ansaldi Co. v. Planning & Zoning Commission, 207 Conn. 67, 70-76, 540 A.2d 59 (1988) (Shea, J., concurring).
** Compare State v. Stoddard, 206 Conn. 167, 637 A.2d 446 (1988), with Moran v. Burbine, 476 U.S. 412,422,106 S. Ct. 1135,89 L. Ed. 2d 410 (1986).
***Compare State v. Jarzbek, 204 Conn. 683, 529 A.2d 1246 (1987), with Globe Newspaper Co. v. Superior Court, 457 U.S. 696, 102 S. Ct 2613, 73 L. Ed. 2d 248 (1982)
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 185, page iii
Appointed to the Supreme Court, February 25, 1981, to take effect November 12, 1981.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 222, page iii (also printed in volume 223, page ii)
Retired July 1, 1992, under constitutional limitation as to age.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 152, pages 758 - 759
Justice William J. Shea, who died at his home, in Manchester, February 5, 1965, was born on April 4, 1900, in Vernon where he spent the early years of his life. After being graduated from the Rockville High School, he attended Trinity College, in Hartford, and Catholic University, in Washington, D.C. He was graduated from Catholic University Law School in 1925. Long afterward, in 1960, he was given the first annual award for outstanding achievement in the field of law conferred by his law school.
He was admitted to the bar in 1926 and immediately entered the practice of law in Manchester. This practice he continued, with outstanding success, until his appointment to the Superior Court, effective December 5, 1942. On October 15, 1930, he married Miss S. Frances Spillane. She survived him, together with their two sons, William J. Shea, Jr., an attorney in Hartford, and Brendan T. Shea, of Trumbull, engaged in the insurance business in Bridgeport, and their daughter, Maureen S. Shea, now Mrs. Arthur A. Charlebois, of Manchester. Two sisters, Catherine C. Shea and Mary Z. Shea, and two brothers, John F. Shea and Walter T. Shea, all of Manchester, also survived him.
Justice Shea was elected as a representative from Manchester to the 1937 session of the General Assembly, where he served as a member of the Judiciary Committee. Thereafter, he was twice elected to the Senate, serving in the sessions of 1939 and 1941. In the 1941 session, he was the minority leader and was named by the Capitol Press Corps as the outstanding legislator in the Senate.
Justice Shea was a conscientious and indefatigable worker, gifted with a clear, well-organized mind, stored with a thorough knowledge of the law. These qualities assured his success as a lawyer from the onset of his career. They also assured his success as a judge of the Superior Court and as a member of the Supreme Court of Errors, to which he was appointed on July 24, 1959.
Perhaps it is for his service on the court of last resort that he will be most lastingly remembered. He was at home in the meticulous detail called for by the work of that court. His opinions were phrased with a clarity which made them ready guides to bench and bar alike. His conscientious character made him ever mindful of the responsibility of the position. He not only realized the necessity of keeping abreast of the workload but also realized the necessity of having the output of the highest possible quality. Only long hours of what today, in any other field, would be treated as "overtime", enabled him to keep pace with the volume of cases to be decided while at the same time sacrificing nothing in quality for the sake of productivity. So diligent was his research that Saturdays and even Sundays found him at work, his desk covered with authorities. The results speak for themselves. The opinions which he wrote, reported volume 146 through 152 of the Connecticut Reports, provide incontrovertible proof of the quality and character of his judicial ability.
Yet he was no mere cloistered scholar, living aloof from the world about him. He was a devout Catholic and a faithful member of St. James Church in Manchester. He had a high sense of the duty which he owed to his fellowmen. He was active in the Boy Scout movement. From an early date he was prominent in the Knights of Columbus, in which he was a State Deputy from 1935 to 1941. He was actively interested in the Manchester Memorial Hospital, and for some thirty years was a member of its board of trustees. He long served as a director of the Manchester Savings Bank and was chairman of its board of directors at the time of his death. He was active in organizations and activities having as their objective the improvement of the law and the making of it a more nearly perfect instrument for the resolution of disputes and disorders in the complex and highly competitive society in which we live. He was an active member of the Manchester, the Hartford County, the Connecticut and the American Bar Associations. He was a member and a director of the American Judicature Society. He also worked most assiduously as a member of the Judicial Council of Connecticut. Even after the illness which ultimately proved fatal had disabled him from longer performing his duties as a member of the Supreme Court of Errors, he continued, as chairman of the Judicial Council, to work from his home on the current biennial report, which appeared in December, 1964, less than two months before his death.
His keen sense of humor and considerate nature forestalled all rancor in the arguments in the conference room which are inseparable from the work of a court of last resort. Because of the labor which he expended on the opinions of the Supreme Court of Errors, he had a firm grip of each case before he entered the conference room. While he stood by his convictions, he was always open minded and patient in weighing the reasons of members of the court who on some particular point disagreed with his own views. He had no stubbornness or pride of opinion and if convinced that he had been mistaken, he was never unwilling to change his mind.
It is impossible, within the limits of an obituary sketch, to do justice to a man of the breadth of interest and diversity of attainments of this calm, quiet, kindly and unassuming man. Not only the Supreme Court of Errors but the community and the state, as well, sustained a great loss in his passing.
*Prepared by Hon. John H. King, of Willimantic.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 146, page iii
Appointed to Supreme Court by the Governor July 24, 1959.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 152, page iii
Died February 5, 1965.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 116, pages 733 - 734
Harrison Tweed Sheldon, a member of the New Haven County Bar since 1908, a lawyer of distinction and a citizen of the highest character, died at his home in New Haven, May 1st, 1933. His death followed a long and painful illness endured by him with characteristic bravery and patience, and brought deep and lasting sorrow to an exceptionally wide circle of associates and friends.
Mr. Sheldon was born in New Haven, March 7th, 1883, the son of Theodore H. Sheldon and Emily Winthrop (Tweed) Sheldon, and throughout his lifetime was a resident of the city of his birth. He graduated from Yale College in the Class of 1905 and from the Yale Law School in 1908. Shortly after leaving Law School he entered the office of Watrous and Day, became a member of the firm on March 1st, 1914, and continued as a partner until the time of his death, the firm being then known as Watrous, Hewitt, Sheldon and Gumbart.
During his early days of practice Mr. Sheldon's work was largely devoted to the preparation and trial of cases in which his painstaking preparation, his attention to every detail, his keen understanding of the legal points involved and his faculty for separating the essential from the trivial, brought to him a high degree of success. From the start of his professional life he displayed those qualities of sound thinking, keen analysis, firm conviction and practical good sense which won and held for him a high place in the affection of his brother lawyers, the respect of the Bench and the complete confidence of his clients. He was a thorough, earnest and sound student of the law.
As his practice developed, and particularly in later years when his health had become somewhat impaired, he devoted himself more especially to office practice and corporation law and he was equally capable and equally successful in this branch of his profession. He was recognized by all who came in contact with him as one who could be thoroughly trusted for sound advice and for honorable conduct in all things.
In spite of his devotion to his chosen profession, Mr. Sheldon had a wide range of interests. His life was full and rich. In his earlier years particularly, he was fond of mountain-climbing, fishing, canoeing and outdoor life in general and he never lost his keen enjoyment in traveling abroad. He was interested in art in many forms, was for a time a student in the Yale Art School and a member of the Art Commission of the City of New Haven. During the World War he devoted himself unsparingly to the public good wherever he could be of the most service, being active in Draft Board work, as a "Four Minute Speaker" in the various Liberty Bond campaigns, on various committees aiding in the preparation and education of drafted men and as a member of the Connecticut State Guard.
He was a member of the American Bar Association, the Connecticut State Bar Association, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the New Haven County Bar Association, the Graduate Club, the Quinnipiack Club, the New Haven Lawn Club, Little Theatre Guild, Paint and Clay Club, Yale Alumni Association and the Benchers. He was for many years a director of The First National Bank and Trust Company of New Haven and of the Geometric Tool Company.
For some ten years before his death he suffered from asthma, which interfered greatly with his enjoyment of life and at times handicapped him severely in the practice of his profession but, although this malady gradually grew more serious, he not only endured the affliction without complaint, but with cheerful and unflinching courage and persisted almost to the last in handling his legal work with the same patience, fidelity and efficiency which had always characterized him. He never surrendered. For some weeks before the end it was obvious that he realized his serious condition but though he made careful and thorough preparation of his affairs, he never conceded defeat.
His characteristics as counsellor and friend were well summed up by one of his closest associates as follows:
"Any question on which his advice or opinion was sought received his serious consideration. Whatever the matter under discussion, he always had something to contribute. He let no one do his thinking for him, accepted no man's opinion unless he weighed it for himself and found it worthy. His judgments were deliberately arrived at and he was not easily shaken in them, but he was wholly lacking in self-conceit and fair to those who disagreed with him. He was dependable as an advisor, delightful as a companion, wholly loyal as a friend."
He left surviving him Alice Cooper (Stanton) Sheldon to whom he was married August 15th, 1915, and a daughter, Anne Dudley Sheldon, born November 13th, 1916.
*Prepared by Thomas M. Steele, Esq., of the New Haven bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, appendix page 22
Born at Woburn, Mass., May 22d, 1773; educated at Yale College, where he graduated in 1792; became a tutor in that institution, in March 1795, (succeeding James Gould in that office,) and remained there somewhat over a year; studied law with Oliver Ellsworth, (afterwards Chief Justice of the United States,) then attended Judge Reeve's lectures at Litchfield, and while a tutor in Yale-College, received instruction from Simeon Baldwin of New-Haven, (afterwards a judge of the superior court.) He was admitted to the bar, at New-Haven, in the spring of 1796; and in May of that year, settled in the practice of law at Norwalk, in this State. He represented that town in the General Assembly, May and October sessions, 1798. In November 1807, he removed from Norwalk to Fairfield, in the same county, where he has since resided, and still resides. In May 1814, he became an assistant, or member of the upper branch of legislature, and continued in that situation, by annual elections, until May 1818. He was a representative of the town of Fairfield, in the General Assembly, in the years 1825 and 1838. In May 1840, he accepted the appointment of a judge of the superior court and of the supreme court of errors, and relinquished a practice, which had been continued, without interruption, for forty-four years. In October 1814, he was designated, by the General Assembly, as one of the delegates from this State to the Convention held at Hartford, in December of that year; which he attended accordingly. In 1829, the corporation of Yale-College conferred on him the honourary degree of L.L.D.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, page iii
Appointed May 1839, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Judge Bissell.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 14, page iii
Resigned, May, 1842, on account of ill health.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 123, pages 697 - 698
Arthur Leffingwell Shipman, who died October 16th, 1937, was by training and ancestry, a true son of Connecticut, and heir to a long legal tradition. Descendant of Edward Shipman of Hull, England, one of the original settlers at Saybrook, he was the son of Judge Nathaniel Shipman of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals. His mother was Mary Caroline Robinson Shipman, daughter of a family which has produced lawyers in Hartford for generations.
Mr. Shipman was born in Hartford on November 19th, 1864. He was a member of the Hartford Public High School Class of 1882, and of Yale 1886. While in college he was editor of the Yale Literary Magazine and a member of the Senior Society of Skull and Bones. He received the degree of LL.B. from the Yale Law School in 1888 and immediately entered the office of Seward, Da Costa and Guthrie of New York City. In 1890 he returned to Hartford and formed a partnership with Judge William F. Henney, who was afterward mayor of Hartford. He continued thus for four years, and then joined the firm of Gross, Hyde and Shipman in 1894. As a member of this firm, and afterward, he took part in much important litigation. In 1919 he became the senior member of the firm of Shipman and Goodwin.
He was a director of the Aetna Insurance Company, the Travelers Insurance Company, Connecticut River Banking Company, the Collins Company, Arrow Hart and Hegeman Electric Company, Capewell Manufacturing Company, and of many other corporations.
On June 27th, 1901, he married in Poughkeepsie, New York, Miss Melvina Van Kleeck. The children of this marriage surviving are Natalie, now Mrs. Gurdon S. Worcester, born December 17th, 1902; Arthur Leffingwell Shipman, Jr., born July 4th, 1906; and Mary Caroline, now Mrs. Minot A. Howard, born December 23d, 1910.
Arthur Shipman was a republican in politics, and became a member of the court of common council of the city of Hartford from the fourth ward in 1892; and in 1895 he was elected a member of the high school committee. In 1904 he was appointed by his former partner, Mayor Henney, as corporation counsel; and again in 1910 he was appointed by Mayor Cheney. He was a member of the Hartford Club, the University Club of Hartford, the Twilight Club and the Monday Evening Club. He was a trustee of Wadsworth Atheneum, of the Connecticut Historical Society, and was deeply interested in the Hartford Public Library. He was also a member of the American Law Institute.
During the week of his death he had been active in the application of the trustees of the Burr Memorial Fund to the Superior Court for approval of the devotion of that fund to the building fund of the Hartford Public Library. He was a member to the time of his death of the Connecticut Commission of Sculpture, and was one of the moving spirits on the erection of the magnificent equestrian statue at Lafayette Square.
He was a man of strong opinion and deep convictions; of scholarly attainments and especially interested and learned in the early history of Hartford and of Connecticut. Shortly before his death he had been working on some new aspects of the hiding of the charter, and it is our loss that this study remained unfinished. He lived and thought intensely. Sometimes he appeared to reach a decision on the spur of the moment, but those who were closest to him found what seemed a hasty judgment, to be sounder than another's considered opinion. His pungent comments on politics, foreign and domestic, found a ready hearing. New thought in a multiplicity of lines engaged his attention. Deeply loyal to his client, he spared no pains in the practice of his profession and was always a prodigious researcher and a clear and accurate thinker.
He passed as he would have wished - quickly, and in the full tide of affairs - leaving a place that will not soon be filled.
*Prepared by Charles A. Goodwin, Esq., of the Hartford bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 103, pages 765 - 766
MILTON ADELBERT SHUMWAY was born at Danielson, in the Town of Killingly, this State, on August 30th, 1848, a son of Noah and Elizabeth Hill (Stiness) Shumway. He traced his ancestry back to Peter Shumway, a French Huguenot, who settled at Topsfield, Massachusetts, between 1660 and 1675.
Judge Shumway received his early education in the district school at Danielson and at Phillips Exeter Academy. He entered Harvard University in 1869, but did not complete the course, leaving there to take up the study of law in the office of Judge Albert Mason of the Massachusetts Superior Court, at Plymouth. He afterward prepared for the Connecticut bar examinations in the office of Judge Earl Martin at Danielson. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1874 and remained in active practice at Danielson until his elevation to the bench. For three years he was acting State’s Attorney for Windham County, during the incapacity of the then incumbent of that office, the late John G. Penrose.
Early in his career he took an active interest in politics, and for twenty years was a prominent figure in the Republican party in eastern Connecticut. In 1886 and 1887 he represented Killingly in the General Assembly. During the first session he was chairman of the committee on cities and boroughs and a member of the judiciary committee. In the session of 1887 he was house chairman of the judiciary committee and house leader. He represented his district in the Senate in the famous deadlock session of 1891.
In 1893 the General Assembly appointed him, upon nomination of Governor Luzon B. Morris, a Judge of the Superior Court for a term of eight years from January 14th, 1894. He was reappointed upon Governor George P. McLean’s nomination, in 1901, and again, upon the nomination of Governor George L. Lilley, in 1909. On February 16th, 1917, upon the nomination of Governor Marcus H. Holcomb, he was appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Errors, which office he assumed on March 15th of that year, and which he filled until August 30th, 1918, when he retired under the constitutional age limit. He then became a State Referee, and as such was active until his death which occurred at his home in Danielson on October 20th, 1923, after an illness of only one day.
On March 7th, 1876, he was united in marriage with Mary A. Woodward, of Brooklyn, who survived him only twelve weeks.
While not a communicant, Judge Shumway was a regular attendant at the services of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church of Danielson, and for many years was a member of its executive committee, being chairman of that body at the time of his death.
He was well grounded in the principles of law but had no use for technicalities. He regarded the law as an expression of the principles of common sense, and so applied it in practice. Of a modest and retiring disposition, he lent a quiet dignity to any position he was called upon to fill. While strangers often thought him cold and reserved, Judge Shumway had a keen sense of humor, and among his close friends, was a delightful companion. In his home town he never lost interest in public affairs; his purse and his services were always open to aid in any cause that would benefit the community. His integrity commanded the respect of all who knew him; and the world is better for his having lived.
*Prepared by Elbert L. Darbie, Esq., of the Windham County bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 91, page iii
Appointed to Supreme Court February 6th, 1917, to take effect March 15th, 1917.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 93, page iii
Retired August 30th, 1918, under constitutional limitation as to age.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 133, pages 744 - 746
Earnest Clyde Simpson was born in Jefferson City, Tennessee, April 28, 1872. He was the son of George and Frances Virginia Simpson and had one brother and five sisters. He attended public schools and was graduated from Carson Newman College in Jefferson City in 1896 with a B. A. degree. He entered the Yale Law School and received the LL. B. degree in 1899. On June 26, 1900, he was admitted to the bar of this state at New Haven. Shortly thereafter, he entered the office of Seymour C. Loomis in New Haven, where he practiced law until 1905, when he formed an association with Charles W. Birely, they later associating with John L. Gilson. On April 3, 1905, he was appointed city attorney in the City Court of New Haven, and held that position until September 9, 1908, the date he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas for New Haven County, where he served until January 27, 1925, when he was appointed a judge of the Superior Court. This latter position he held continuously until April 28, 1942, when he was retired by reason of constitutional limitation of age and became a state referee, serving as such until his death on May 21, 1946.
Judge Simpson married Mae Etheridge Hodson on August 17, 1912. They had four children, Mrs. Katherine Frances Rekers, Virginia Mae Simpson, George Hodson Simpson and Mrs. Marjorie E. Early; also there were three grandchildren. All of these, including his wife, survive. His daughter Virginia is a practicing attorney in New York City and is a member of the Connecticut bar.
Aside from his activities as a practitioner and upon the bench, Judge Simpson had many interests. He was a trustee of the Connecticut Savings Bank and a member of the executive committee of the Yale Law School Association. He was also a member of the State and New Haven County Bar Associations, an association of lawyers known as "The Benchers," the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the Revolution, the Graduates Club and the New Haven Country Club. He was a thirty-second degree Mason and a past master of Hiram Lodge No. 1, A. F. and A. M. In politics he was a Republican. He was a member of the Methodist Church.
While his entire life was centered primarily in his family and in his chosen profession, he was keenly interested in hunting, fishing, rifle shooting, golf, baseball, football and other outdoor sports. In the course of his military activities he joined the New Haven Grays as a private and, having attained the rank of corporal, was promoted to a battalion adjutant with the rank of first lieutenant. During World War I, he was state inspector of small arms practice with the rank of major on the staff of Colonel Lucien F. Burpee. While in the Connecticut National Guard, he became very proficient in the use of small arms and represented the state upon many of its rifle and pistol teams, contesting in marksmanship in various parts of the United States. During one of these contests at Sea Girt, New Jersey, he attained the distinction of winning the president's match and was awarded therefor the Theodore Roosevelt Medal.
Judge Simpson's career on the bench was remarkable in several respects, not the least of which was the length of its duration - thirty-five consecutive years. More important, however, than the length of his service was the quality thereof. In the course of his judicial experience he was presented with thousands of cases for decision and to each he gave most serious and thoughtful consideration. Many of his decisions involved important and intricate issues and were generally accepted by the bar and litigants without appeal to higher authority. On occasions when his decisions were appealed to the Supreme Court of Errors the percentage of reversals was unusually small and his record in that court was most enviable.
Judge Simpson sat as a member of the Supreme Court on occasion and in some instances wrote the opinion of the court. These opinions exhibit the same carefully meticulous style of his trial court judgments. He was not a judge who received his inspirations from the air but arrived at his decisions from deep thought and laborious research into the legal principles involved. It has been said that he never reached a decision without having read all of the citations offered him and then having entered upon a personal research of the basic principle involved. He had a deep respect for the law and for human rights. He had no patience with sham or frivolity. He was austere on the bench but was most charitable in his views of humanity.
He was indefatigable in his work and never shirked the many laborious hours in his study, when his court was not in session, necessary to bring about a result he thought correct. By dint of hard study and close application, Judge Simpson became one of the pillars of the bench and commanded the respect and confidence of his colleagues as well as of the bar. In short, he was a thoroughly competent judge who understood the duties of his office and fulfilled those duties to the utmost.
During the latter part of his career he was not in good health. Early in 1936 he was affected with a heart ailment which somewhat restricted his activities, but nevertheless he continued to function on the bench until March, 1942, when he experienced a cerebral hemorrhage which practically disabled him during the remainder of his life. Whether he had anticipated the possibility of a sudden end to his career will never be known but he had no unfinished business on his desk when the final hour came.
"Jerry," as he was affectionately known by his intimates, was a kind and loving husband and father, an excellent judge, a good citizen and a loyal friend. His passing ended a life the imprint of which will long remain in the memory of those who knew him. His was a life well spent.
*Prepared by Hon. John Rufus Booth, of New Haven.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, appendix pages 6 - 7
BORN at Sharon, Feb. 12th, 1765; educated at Yale-College and graduated there in 1783; read law with John Canfield, Esq., of Sharon; admitted to the bar in Litchfield county, March 1786, and settled in the practice of law in Sharon. In 1793, he was first elected a representative of the town of Sharon to the General Assembly. He was afterwards a representative in both sessions of the General Assembly, in the years 1796, 1797, 1798, and 1799, being chosen at the latter session Clerk of the House. In May 1800, he was chosen Speaker. In Sept. 1800, he was elected a representative of the second session of the sixth Congress, being the first session held at the city of Washington. He was re-elected to the 7th, 8th and 9th Congress; resigned in July 1806, after the first session of the ninth Congress. In October 1806, he was elected a representative to the State Legislature and chosen Speaker; also in 1807 and 1808. In May 1809, he was elected a member of the Council. In October 1809, he was appointed an associate Judge of the Superior Court and Supreme Court of Errors. In May 1811, and again in 1812, he was chosen Lieutenant Governor, and officiated as Chief Magistrate from the death of Governor Griswold, in October 1812, the residue of the term. In May 1813, he was chosen Governor, and continued in that office four years.
In Sept. 1814, he received from the corporation of Yale-College, the honorary degree of LL.D. In April 1813, he was elected a member of the Historical Society of Massachusetts; and in July 1836, a member of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquarians, in Copenhagen in Denmark. In 1826, he was chosen President of the A, B. C. F. M.; and in 1831, President of the American Bible Society.
As Printed in Day's Reports, volume 4, page 129
Appointed in October, 1809, in the room of Hon. Roger Griswold, promoted to the office of lieutenant-governor.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 15, appendix pages 32 - 33
Was born in 1762, within the limits of the present town of Washington, then a part of Woodbury. He commenced life a farmer and dealer, with scarcely the advantages of a common education. Such, however, was the impulse of his native powers, he surmounted all obstacles. Studied law with Ephraim Kirby, and Judge Reeve, at Litchfield, and was admitted to the bar in that county, in 1787; commenced the practice of law at Woodbury, and rose more rapidly to the highest grade of his profession, than almost any other man has done. His powers of thought and elocution gave him almost unlimited dominion over his audience. He was a member of the House of Representatives in the state legislature, October, 1789, October, 1791, May, 1792, October, 1794, and May, 1795. In 1797, he was elected a representative from this State in the Congress of the United States. Having served in that capacity two terms, he declined a reelection in 1801.
In 1802, he was elected to the Council or Upper House of the legislature of this State; a situation which he resigned in 1804. In 1805, he was appointed State's Attorney for the County of Litchfield; and Judge of the Supreme Court, in October, 1806. In the latter office he continued until 1819. He died March 8th, 1822.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, appendix page 11
[A] native of the town of Washington, settled in the practice of law, in New-Milford, soon after his admission to the Bar of this county [Litchfield], about the year 1807; was elected a member of the General Assembly, in the years 1822 and 1823, and again in the years 1835 and 1836. During the latter session, he was appointed a Senator of the United States, for six years from the 4th of March following. He was also appointed Judge of Probate for the year 1833, and again for the year 1835. On obtaining the appointment of Senator, he gave up the practice of law, which he had pursued until that time.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 42, pages 599 - 600
Ralph Dunning Smith, the oldest member of the New Haven County bar remaining in active practice, died on September 11th, 1874, at the age of sixty-nine years. Born in Southbury in 1804, he was graduated at Yale College in the class of 1827, commenced the study of law with Hon. Edward Hinman, at his native place, and then after spending some time in the office of Heman Birch, Esq., of Brookfield, completed his preparation for the bar in the Yale Law School in 1831. He entered the profession in the fall of that year, established himself in Guilford, and there, for more than forty years, was the leading spirit of the town.
Without any of the graces of oratory, and with not a particle of sham or show in his character, it was not Mr. Smith's ambition to distinguish himself as an advocate or a politician. His leading characteristics as a practitioner were a thorough acquaintance with the Common Law, industry in the preparation of his cases, persistency in maintaining the interests of his clients to the end, undiscouraged by any adverse decision so long as a hope of reversing it remained, accuracy in his statements, and fair dealing with all.
His business was largely that of an office lawyer, and he was often consulted by persons living in other counties, not unfrequently being engaged in trials in Middlesex and New London, either as counsel, arbitrator or committee. His most important professional work was done in connection with the New Haven and New London railroad, the construction of which his exertions helped greatly to secure. He was for many years the secretary of the railroad company, as well as one of its directors, acting also as its attorney in the matter of its location, land purchases, construction contracts, &c., and took a prominent part in the organization and management of the New London and Stonington extension, and thus in making Guilford a point upon a new through route between New Haven and Boston.
No lawyer in the state, probably, ever had a better knowledge of the local history and real estate titles of his town. For six years the judge of his probate district, and during all his professional life much engaged in the settlement of estates, Mr. Smith had frequent occasion to consult the ancient town, church, and probate records, and thoroughly mastered their contents. He could trace the families of the early planters of Guilford - one of the first settlements within the limits of the New Haven Colony - down from generation to generation, point out the homestead lot which belonged to each, and turn to the record of the "terrier" under which the original title was derived.
It is indeed as an enthusiastic antiquarian and genealogist that Mr. Smith will be best remembered. He was for many years a valued director of the New Haven Colony Historical Society, and has left in manuscript, sketches of the history of Guilford, and of two of its ecclesiastical societies, and biographical minutes, more or less full, in relation to every person who was graduated from Yale College, from its foundation down to 1767. His attachment to the college was very great, and there were few commencements at which he was not in attendance. He had two sons, both of whom were graduates of Yale, and of remarkable promise, but their early deaths, occurring, in the case of each, within a year or two after graduation, cast a deep shadow over the last years of their father's life.
Mr. Smith was an active member of the First Congregational Church in Guilford and was honored by all his townsmen as a man of a consistent Christian life. At his funeral a commemorative discourse was pronounced by Rev. Dr. Leonard Bacon, of New Haven. Resolutions expressive of their respect for his memory were passed by the bar of New Haven County, in which especial mention is made of "the ripeness of his learning and the soundness of his judgment, his faithfulness to the interests of his clients, and punctual performance of his professional engagements."
*Prepared, at the request of the Reporter, by Simeon E. Baldwin, Esq., of the New Haven County bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 193, page iii
Appointed to the Appellate Court May 1, 1984, to take effect May 3, 1984.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 220, page iii
Retired November 6, 1991, under constitutional limitation as to age.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 227, page iii
Appointed to the Appellate Court November 5, 1993, to take effect January 3, 1994.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 128, pages 720 - 723
The small county bar, such as Middlesex, tends to produce, from time to time, a lawyer who, without effort or design, makes corporeal again the traditional dignity and the comfortable aspect of that unhurried country practice which so few remember and many regard with a vague nostalgia.
To such a man nature imparts her rare, homely wisdom, her generous humor and her infallible perception, but only as gifts to be made use of in the giving and to endure only in the sense of enrichment happily brought to others.
Such a man was Bertrand E. Spencer. Were he to speak, he would deny this; and were he to see these words written about himself he would no doubt be uneasy, with that quick and shrinking uneasiness that is the best evidence of a modest nature. His forthrightness and devotion to simplicity would recoil from the mildest eulogy.
It was my good fortune to be associated with him during the last ten years of his life. During all of that time he was State's Attorney for Middlesex County, having succeeded Ernest A. Inglis to that office upon the latter's elevation to the Superior Court bench.
He was one of those men, all too few, who look upon law not as a source of wealth but as a career dedicated to public service. His practice was close to the earth, among earthly people, but it was of an earthiness illumined at all times with the bright and warming sunshine of his enlightment.
In dealing with people's troubles and in transacting their affairs, he was not moved by economic status or creed or ancestry. His only measure of interest in a case was whether the cause was just. To him people were all alike. They were people under one God and humbly united in one common humanity. Toward them, in goodness or in sin, in righteousness or in crime, he felt a keen and understanding sympathy and a simple love. Toward them, when they came into collision with punitive law, he showed a generous tolerance which eased their misery.
He was a survivor of an age when the law was more personalized than it is today, when institutions had not made of it an efficient machine and when the character and personality of the lawyer and his personal contact with clients were given greater importance. In his office there was something of the atmosphere of the old fashioned law chamber with its oak furniture and iron safe, the comfortable rocker and the books sprawled about showing constant use. There was also the spirit of the old-fashioned office where the senior member acted as a mentor and out of his larger human experience would advise his junior associates not only in matters of law but also on problems of ethics and morality and social justice with which they were still insufficiently acquainted.
In commemorating our departed brethren, we are wont to tell something of their record and to point to their many accomplishments and successes. Yet these few tollings seem pathetically inadequate to show a man's oneness and integration with the many events through which he moved. The few needful facts we set down concerning Bert Spencer are not the measure of the man, for he will be known fully only to those who knew him here and he will be remembered best in the bright serenity of a June Sunday or the golden splendor of autumn in our Connecticut hills going about familiarly among his neighbors.
Born in Meriden, Connecticut, on April 15, 1884, Bert Spencer retained his loyalty to his native state during his fruitful lifetime. At Dartmouth he received his academic degree in 1906 and was there admitted to Phi Beta Kappa. Then, after a year's pause, he entered the University of Maine Law School and in 1910 became a bachelor of laws. He was admitted to practice that same year in Massachusetts and on June 10, 1911, became a member of the bar of Connecticut.
From that time on he served Connecticut and, in particular, the County of Middlesex. During his thirty years of practice his office was always in Middletown. In 1915 he was named clerk of the City Court, serving two years in that capacity. He was named prosecutor in 1917 and served until 1923. From 1918 until 1930 he acted as assistant to State's Attorney Ernest A. Inglis, and upon Judge Inglis' elevation to the Superior Court bench on December1, 1930, he became State's Attorney.
His participation in municipal affairs was always marked by a keen grasp of the fundamentals of government and an ability to solve problems of government. He drafted the consolidated city and town charter of Middletown which was adopted October 9, 1923. He became a member of the City Plan Commission and sought to bring order into a zoning situation which had grown haphazard through years of non-regulation.
For twelve years he served as member of the town school board and was chairman during the last several years. He was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce from its early days and was a director in 1935 and president in 1936.
Bert Spencer was a musician of exceptional ability and served as organist and choir director of the First Congregational Church of Middletown.
Among the organizations to which he belonged and which he served are the following: Connecticut State Bar Association: the Middlesex County Bar; the Middletown Bar Association, of which he had been president; the Middletown Building and Loan Association; the Middletown Savings Bank, as attorney and trustee; Apollo Lodge, Knights of Pythias, as member and past chancellor commander; St. John's Lodge, No. 2, A. F. and A. M.; the Rotary Club.
In his later years perhaps he felt a deep foreboding, a prescience that his time was narrowing, that his days were getting shorter. The hastening shadows and their suggestion of things undone and of many things to do troubled him perhaps with the same urgency expressed in this detached and unnamed stanza of Stevenson:
"The morning drum-call on my eager ear
Thrills unforgotten yet; the morning dew
Lies yet undried along my field of noon.
But now I pause at whiles in what I do
And count the bell, and tremble lest I hear
(My work untrimmed) and sunset gun too soon."
He now entered upon a more vigorous public life. He organized and became the first president of the Community Chest; he initiated the movement for a municipal finance board, which came into being after his death; he ran for mayor. Never a politician, he won the highest political office of his city shortly before his death, and was elected mayor of Middletown in October, 1940. That achievement is all the more remarkable when we recall that he was one of only two Republican mayors to be elected in Middletown in fourteen years.
He threw himself into his new work with fresh enthusiasm. Much had to be done. He busied himself with plans for reconstructing the city government. The pace of his work increased. To him it may have appeared that in the measure of time he had remaining he ought to accomplish everything possible before the gun sounded at sunset.
Winter came. His health, never too robust, had begun to falter. The strain and pressure of his work began to tell on him. His energies sank and the climb back became too steep. On the evening of January 23, 1941, he passed away in peace.
One is often tempted to speculate where the journey might have led had another road been taken. We may wonder, those of us who knew Bert Spencer best, what the world may have held for him had he ever made fuller use of those abundant talents which he had in music, the arts, and in letters. Had he chosen those things for his career he might conceivably have enjoyed a more tranquil life, a life in harmony with his sensitive nature and free of the conflict which is inevitable in the profession of law. For he was not a man who enjoyed conflict. He was a man of peace.
But he was militant and courageous in his desire to achieve peace, ready to fight injustice and prepared to sacrifice comfort and ease in a cause that was right. This is how we think of him, a brave soldier in this world of conflict who had been called from the wars at last, and who goes forward with his face to the sun, and unafraid.
*Prepared by Bernard A. Kosicki, of the Middlesex County bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 27, pages 271 - 273
While at Middletown at this term of the court, I took a final leave of my friend Elihu Spencer, then on his death-bed, and a few days after was called to attend his funeral obsequies. He was my intimate friend, and I regarded him with such affection and respect, and he stood so high too in his profession, that I feel unwilling that he should pass away without a brief notice in these reports.
ELIHU SPENCER was born in Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio, on the 29th of February, 1820. He was a grandson of Hon. Isaac Spencer, for many years Treasurer of the State of Connecticut, and great-grandson of Gen. Joseph Spencer of East Haddam, who was a distinguished officer in the Revolutionary army. His father, Elihu Spencer, who was a lawyer by profession, and a man of superior mind and character, died a few months before his birth. While he was in his infancy, his mother removed to Connecticut, her native state, and after a few years came to Middletown to reside, where she has ever since remained. Here, at the Wesleyan University, her son received his classical education, and afterwards established himself in the practice of his profession, having spent elsewhere a portion of the time during which he was a student at law. He was her only child, and, with rare dutifulness and devotion, he cherished her as the companion of his life, forming no domestic ties that could divide his affections. Inheriting from her uncommon strength of mind, he learned from her a habit of independent and vigorous thinking and a high sense of honor and self respect that were marked features of his character. She survives him in a more than renewed widowhood.
In his professional character he united with a rare high-mindedness and aversion to everything unfair or dishonorable, a singularly clear and philosophical comprehension of the science of law. With a good memory, enabling him to refer with readiness to all the leading cases in the English and American reports, he yet relied far more upon the thoroughly digested principles which he had extracted from the cases. His mind was rarely at fault upon a point of law. He saw at a glance what general principle was applicable to any question in hand and seemed to have at command the exact limitation of the principle. His mind was one of uncommon compactness, tenacity, and logical acuteness, and although predisposed to theoretical speculation, yet it was not wanting in practical soundness. His manner, both before the court and in the intercourse of life, was marked by great modesty and unobtrusiveness and by a quiet and gentlemanly dignity. He was absolutely without pretension, in part from an inadequate estimate of himself, and in part and perhaps mainly from great refinement of mind and a delicacy of perception in matters of taste. His language in addressing the court was always lucid and vigorous, and while sufficiently copious was never redundant. He was a man of too much simplicity to deal in expletives of language or manner. He had little imagination and never affected it. He dealt wholly with the reason and with the higher moral perceptions, never with the mere passions or emotions of men.
He was a man of much general cultivation, familiar with the best departments of literature and philosophy and with some of the physical sciences. For one so quiet and retiring as he, he was singularly decided, and, when occasion required, fearless, in his condemnation of what he considered wrong. He had a sense of right that no precedent or authority could shake. This independence of authority and his habit of subjecting every proposition to the test of reason, led him to some religious opinions, honestly held, never discredited by a lax morality of principle or practice, and never urged upon others, but which differed in some important respects from those generally entertained by christians. He regarded with much interest the philanthropic and reformatory movements of the day, and, in particular, was from early life a warm friend of the temperance cause. He sympathized also very decidedly with the anti-slavery sentiment that was gaining ground in the free states, and, in later life, withdrew from the political party, with which he had been for many years connected, to unite with the one that was organized to oppose the extension of slavery.
On the reconstruction of our judiciary system in 1855, he was urged by his friends to accept the office of Judge of the Superior Court, and would have been elected to that office with, it is believed, the support of all parties, but for his persistent refusal to allow his name to be used. It is believed by those who knew him best that he would have made an excellent judge. It is certain that no man in the state would have had in a higher degree the public confidence. His health was at this time beginning to fail, and had been seriously affected by the great amount of labor which he had been compelled to perform as a member of the legislature during that session. This state of his health was an important consideration with him in declining the office, but he was also in no small degree deterred from its acceptance by an extreme sensitiveness to any possible suspicion that he might have had a judgeship in view, in the active part which he had taken as a member of the Judiciary Committee in preparing and procuring the passage of the bill. In the spring of 1857, he was nominated by the republican party for the office of Lieutenant Governor, but declined the nomination.
One so unobtrusive as he, neither aspiring to nor accepting any of those higher public offices that help a man to at least an historical preservation of his name, is likely soon to be forgotten by all but those who personally knew and esteemed him, and is, for that reason, especially deserving of a memorial in the records of the profession which he adorned; while those who desire the elevation of the character of that profession, will be glad to have treasured for its benefit all of such an example that so brief a memorial can preserve. It is to be regretted that it must be so brief as to be rather a mere tribute of respect to his memory than an adequate portraiture of his character.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 101, pages 761 - 763
LEWIS SPERRY was born in South Windsor in this State on January 3d, 1848, lived there all his days, and died there on June 22d, 1922. His ancestors for generations were of excellent New England stock, and his father, a farmer, was a man of strong character and independent in his political and religious views.
Lewis spent his boyhood on his father’s farm, gaining thereby a rugged physical frame, prepared for college at Monson Academy, graduated from Amherst College in 1873, where he won several prizes in oratorical and debating contests, and in 1875, after two years of earnest and industrious study of law in the office of Messrs. Waldo, Hubbard and Hyde in Hartford, was admitted to the bar.
The bar of Hartford County, at this time, was led by men of unusual ability and forensic power, who tried causes involving interests small as well as great, and to them Lewis looked with respect which ripened into mutual affection as the years rolled along, until he in turn assumed a leading position in the profession. From observation of these men and their characteristics and methods at the bar, Lewis undoubtedly derived some benefit, but he possessed a unique personality and had a way of looking at things which was fundamental and original, and this, not what others did, guided and controlled his thought and action.
His lot as a lawyer was like that of many others. He worked his way up, attending to small matters and then to larger ones, and finally in his later years was frequently called away from cases in court to advise in important corporate matters and to aid in difficult cases of litigation.
As a lawyer his ability rested largely on his powers of reasoning— an innate faculty with him. To him—as he once said in speaking of a deceased member of the profession—law was the perfection of reason, and to understand its principles and their causes was the work of his life. He was diligent in analyzing the facts in any controversy, and then he slowly reasoned his way through to the principle of law that applied. To reach a correct result meant more to him than to please a client, for he had the rare gift of intellectual honesty. So absorbed was he at times in obtaining justice and winning his cases, that he forgot to charge for his services, and the matter of remuneration was to him ever of small concern. Nevertheless his effective work was done in his own peculiar way, deliberately, persistently, both in and out of his office and he clung to the question in hand until he had, by sheer reason and logic, reached a conclusion satisfactory to his own mind.
In the court room he was a picturesque and forceful character. Impatient of technicalities, his chief aim was to get at the main points in the case, and so he was always more than ready to go half way and lay his cards on the table, asking only for similar treatment from his adversary and a prompt and fair submission of the real controversy to the trier. He was a rare cross-examiner of witnesses. His mind was so honest that almost instinctively it rejected duplicity, sham or sophistry. A fallacious argument brought an immediate reaction of his brain, which was usually voiced by instant disapproval—sometimes, indeed, with emphaticcomment. He had the natural aptitude supplemented by experience and training, and a resourcefulness of mind which made him a powerful adversary before a jury. Juries liked to hear him; they felt acquainted with him and appreciated his plain, straightforward ways, his homely wit and his ever ready comment and illustration. His presence in a case was sure to keep alive their interest, as no one could tell when an amusing or stirring incident was to be projected into the routine from his side of the table. With an unfailing memory for pretty much everything he ever heard or saw, he had always at call a fund of anecdote which, with his keen wit and forceful speech, made him a most delightful companion in conversation.
His eye was always open, and things once seen, were always retained. Every activity incident to human life interested him. Nature in all its manifestations, the growing crops, soils, farm animals, of all these he had first-hand knowledge, supplemented by scientific study. Any machine, especially a new invention, any new process, quickly excited his attention and paved the way for a new line of reading, and his book-shelves at his home contained the latest work on all sorts of animal and farm life, new processes for saving human labor, as well as books on autobiography, travel and history. Besides his books, he also took kindly to children, and to the newsboys and newsgirls of the Hartford streets he was a benefactor and friend. Candies and other good things had a way of appearing from his pockets at just the right time.
Mr. Sperry was a shining example of the highest type of citizenship. As a member of Congress for two terms (1891-1895), he came in close contact with the institutions of our government and believed that our safety depended upon their integrity. He stood out independently and indignantly against certain political ideas that he considered unsound and yet which made a certain popular appeal, and his speech on the currency question in Congress was as unanswerable as it was discordant with his party’s platform.
Independent in his views, original in his expressions, peculiar in some of his interests, approachable by all, he exhibited a personality that gave him a unique place in the life and affections of the community.
*Prepared by James P. Andrews, Esq., former Reporter, and compiled mainly from the memorial resolutions presented to the Bar by a committee consisting of Messrs. Charles E. Gross, Harry W. Reynolds and Edward M. Day.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 194, pages 811 - 821
REMARKS ON THE OCCASION OF THE RETIREMENT OF CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN A. SPEZIALE
During the opening of proceedings in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, November 6, 1984, the following remarks were made on the occasion of the retirement of Chief Justice John A. Speziale, effective November 21, 1984.
CHIEF JUSTICE SPEZIALE: At this time I'd like to call upon Father Michael S. Galasso, Pastor of Saint Peter's Roman Catholic Church of Hartford to give an opening prayer. Father Galasso.
FATHER GALASSO: Let us pray. Almighty Father, we call into session this high Court of the land and seek your bless¬ing upon them today. Allow all deliberations to be conducted with prudence. Guide these Justices so that their decisions reflect your will for the common good of your people. Amen.
CHIEF JUSTICE SPEZIALE: I'd like to recognize Justice Peters at this time.
JUSTICE PETERS: This is a special occasion because today is the last session of this Court over which Chief Justice Speziale will preside. And therefore, instead of moving immediately to our Motions Calendar, I'm going to say a few words about the work of Chief Justice Speziale on this Court and then Justice Healey will say a few words about the remainder of Chief Justice Speziale's distinguished judicial career. Thereafter Attorney Raymond Beckwith, the Presi¬dent of the Connecticut Bar Association, will say a few words on behalf of the bar.
This Court has often said to counsel appearing for oral argument before us that we must consider the matters that come before us on the record. In that tradition, I want to examine what the record shows to be the achievements of Chief Justice John A. Speziale. And although officially we resist the temptation to indulge in hyperbole, it is impossi¬ble to describe that record without noting at the outset that it is simply astonishing.
To begin with, the record reflects that Justice Speziale, as Associate Justice and as Chief Justice, has participated over seven and a half years in the deliberations and disposition of five hundred and ninety-one cases that were argued in full to this Court. That number does not include hundreds more Motions and Petitions for Certification. The record further discloses that Chief Justice Speziale has written one hundred and forty-five opinions, almost all for the majority, although he has not hesitated to dissent or to concur when the occasion has seemed to require that action. Let me allude briefly to some of those opinions, for they have, without question, changed the legal landscape of the State of Connecticut.
John Speziale's keen sense of justice is manifest in his opinions on the law of criminal procedure. An early dissenting opinion exposed problems with our system of plea bargaining. Another major opinion addressed the integrity of jury deliberations. Other cases in the criminal law area dealt carefully with the sensitive issues that surround the validity of confessions and the legality of searches.
But justice is, of course, not confined to the proper reso¬lution of questions of criminal law. And so John Speziale wrote during his time on the Court opinions: guaranteeing a debtor a right to a fair hearing before his property could be taken by foreclosure; assuring electors that absentee bal¬lots would be fairly administered; and promising litigants in family disputes that they would have a full judicial con¬sideration of their personal and property rights. Other land¬mark cases gave notice of his and the Court's commitment to the principles of case flow management. Finally, during the last Court year the Chief Justice led the Court to new formulations of the conflicting rights of privacy and the press and of the role of the legislature and the judiciary in the impeachment process.
This is a record of significant achievement which all of us on the bench aspire to emulate. It reflects the understand¬ing that Supreme Courts in a democratic society have a dual role - the adjudication of legal disputes and the development of legal rules. It is the latter role, the development of legal rules, that is essential to the sound growth of a reasoned legal system. It is always possible, and sometimes wise, to decide no more than how a controversy is to be resolved, to focus on the particularities of special circumstances rather than on the generality of an overall problem. But the judi¬cial opinions which give us guidance for the future are those which, like those of John Speziale, search for principles, artic¬ulate guidelines, and thus confront the underlying issues. Such opinions exemplify what Oliver Wendell Holmes recog¬nized one hundred years ago as the strength of the common law - its responsiveness to the felt necessities of the times, to prevalent moral and political theories and to sound intui¬tions about the just demands of public policy.
John Speziale's record, however, as you all know, encom¬passes many accomplishments in addition to his stellar rec¬ord on the bench. As Chief Court Administrator and then as head of the Judicial Department the Chief Justice, with the aid of the legislative and executive branches with whom he developed excellent rapport, has worked tirelessly and effectively to transform the judicial system in Connecticut. Let me recite only a few of the highlights. The number of trial judges has been substantially increased and, in addi¬tion, we now have a fine Appellate Court. The salaries of judges have been improved in order to attract and to retain able lawyers for the judiciary. Judges have better support services with six new court houses on line or almost com¬pleted and a pool of law clerks to assist in legal research. The quality of judicial performance has been enhanced by expanded educational programs and by systematic perform¬ance review. The use of attorney trial referees has freed judi¬cial time for the performance of those judicial functions which cannot be delegated to others.
I do not mean to suggest that the millennium has come. There is still a great deal to be done to ready our judicial system for the challenges of the next century, which is almost upon us. But we could not begin to think intelligently about how to plan for the year two thousand or two thou¬sand and one without the foundation that the Chief Justice has built. That foundation reflects not only leadership and dedication and energy, but a vision that we all share, a vision that Connecticut wants to have and can have a judicial sys¬tem second to none.
And so on behalf of the Court let me close by saying to John Speziale, we appreciate all that you have done for us. We admire your perseverance and your perceptive pursuit of the goals of judicial excellence. Finally, but by no means least, we treasure the opportunities we have had to work with you. With great affection we express to you our grati¬tude for your long years of public service and wish you a rewarding and fulfilling career at the bar.
JUSTICE HEALEY: Thank you, Justice Peters. Chief Justice Speziale, members of the Supreme Court, the Appellate Court, the judiciary, members of the bar and guests. I under¬stand that I have about five minutes to discuss the Chief Justice's State judicial career prior to the time he became Chief Court Administrator. That time is about par for the course on Motion Day in this Court. However, if anyone is trying to rush me I'm reminded that someone said don't rush me because I have only one other speed and that's slower.
There are some things that deserve to be said briefly. This occasion is not one of them. In November, 1961, I journeyed out to Torrington with another Judge to be present at the swearing-in of John A. Speziale as a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. I must confess that I did not think that at that time many of those present believed that they were witnessing the induction of a man who would become succes¬sively and successfully Chief Judge of the Superior Court, Chief Court Administrator, and finally Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said there is properly no his¬tory, but only biography. And in that vein I look briefly along with you at the judicial career of the Chief Justice from 1961, as a State Trial Judge, until he became Chief Court Administrator in 1977.
He came to the bench molded by humble beginnings, in the best American tradition; schooled in the humanities and in the law; and forged in the crucible of an active law prac¬tice, meaningful political experience and respectable com¬munity service.
Early on his work in the judicial system disclosed that he worked hard, that he worked long hours, and significantly ¬- that he worked very effectively. It became abundantly clear that he himself firmly believed that proper preparation pre¬vents poor performance and that he expected the profession to realize that and to follow the same rule. All his writings as a trial Judge were thorough in their preparation, clear in their exposition and decisive in their tone. His courtroom demeanor was always dignified and appropriate, his rulings were resolute and clear, and his insight into the problems of counsel and their clients were comprehensive and almost invariably on target. He demonstrated throughout an uncanny ability in the resolution of contested matters, this perhaps being most evident to the bench and bar in his great success in the disposition of jury cases, often very complex cases and often involving a number of lawyers. Whatever assignment he was given he executed notably. All these soon became apparent to those people in charge. Almost from the beginning, therefore, he often found himself designated as the presiding Judge wherever he was assigned. He produced and he expected, over his days as a trial Judge, those with whom he was assigned to do the same thing. He never let the fact that you cannot do all that you want to do keep you from doing what you can do.
Throughout these years, John Speziale has certainly proved the truth of the statement that a person shows what he is by what he does with what he has.
He recognized that to the judicial office to which much is given, much is also required. Accordingly, his talents as a trial Judge, his interest and participation were not confined to his work in the courtroom or chambers. They also included Court administration, judicial education, judicial perform¬ance, and the like, a few of the harbingers of the impact that he was to have on the judicial system. This was founded, I feel, on his goal - the determination to improve the delivery of justice to the people of this State, a mission that has not waned, as you know, but has continually increased over his judicial life. His impatience with what he perceived to be roadblocks to this goal was evident. He realized that success cannot be without an occasional failure. But for him any occasional failure was merely more education. John Speziale was a man on the move who recognized the problems to be overcome, but he never accepted any setback nor yielded to the enormity of any problem.
The portents were unmistakable. When, in passage of time, he became Chief Judge of the Superior Court and then the Chief Court Administrator the lines were drawn and any roadblock that stood in the way of improving the delivery of justice to the people of this State would be subject to a frontal attack. Fueling this struggle with an unmistakable singleness of purpose, a strategic marshalling of all the resources available, and a burning zeal to serve, he pressed toward this goal. We all know what was accomplished under his leadership and time demands that I leave the results to someone else to chronicle fully on another day.
These fleeting encomia do not mete out the full measure of credit due to the Chief Justice for his accomplishments. But from 1961 on there was no question that with each successive year as a trial Judge this man, who drove himself relentlessly, who learned more what the system was, and who recommended from his evolving experience what it should be, would impact deeply on our judicial system. When the day arrived upon which he became Chief Court Admin¬istrator he was ready; his compass was set; and his imperatives were determined. You know what happened thereafter.
I close these remarks with a short quotation that I deem particularly appropriate. Some years ago Justice Felix Frankfurter, in an article in the New York Times Magazine, was describing a Chief Justice that he knew and he said, "He didn't assume his position, he fulfilled it." That is precisely what John Speziale has done as Chief Judge of the Superior Court, Chief Court Administrator and as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.
JUSTICE PETERS: Mr. Beckwith.
MR. BECKWITH: May it please the Court, Chief Justice, Justices of the Supreme Court, Judges of the Appellate Court, Judges of the Superior Court, members of the bar, ladies and gentlemen. I am deeply honored to represent the Connecticut Bar Association on this, the last day on which the Chief Justice will preside as a member of this Court. To the Chief Justice and to his wife we extend our very best wishes and high expectations for success and happiness in this newest of the Chief Justice's endeavors.
I want to speak from a slightly different position than Jus¬tice Peters and Justice Healey in that I want to take a few minutes to outline what Chief Justice Speziale has meant to the members of the organized bar and what he has done with respect to the organized bar.
I have known every Chief Justice of this State since the early 1950s and I have known some of them as brilliant law¬yers; I have known others as keen administrators. But I have never known a Chief Justice who so sincerely devoted him¬self to a harmonious relationship between the bench and the bar for the benefit of the public. He made the bar a part of the judicial system. He was ever mindful of the fact that under our system the Court has its function and the bar has its function and that the two have to work together in har¬mony in order to accomplish the result of a fair administra¬tion of justice. In appropriate matters he sought our advice and counsel. He also sought and promoted firm, substantial relationships between the bench and the bar. He was always ready to come and speak to us on some new rule or a new development or something of value and interest to the bar because he knew that the better informed the bar, the bet¬ter the public was served.
He regarded the bar, I think, as part of a whole which was designed to bring justice to our citizens. One has only to look at the various matters that Justice Peters and Justice Healey have commented upon to make that point abundantly clear.
In one of the most recent matters in which the Chief Justice was involved, namely the lawyer-referee program, he sought the cooperation of the bar in a program which, in my view, as I see it from Fairfield County, has been an enormous success. We are deeply appreciative of the fact that he first created the program and, secondly, that he involved the bar in the implementation of the program. There have been several thousand cases, as I understand it, that have been disposed of by this program, in which I have had the honor to participate.
Most recently the problem under discussion has been that of Court delay, a problem to which the Chief Justice has very recently applied himself. He has created a committee which will deal with various aspects of the rules, as I understand it, and some other matters in connection therewith. But he did more than that. Realizing that that is not just a judicial matter, it's a matter which involves the entire administration of justice, he has brought onto a committee four members of the bar to assist the judiciary in dealing with this particular problem. This has always been Chief Justice Speziale's approach. He has always cooperated in every way that he could; he has helped us in every way that he could; he has always been available to us, to help us when we properly needed his help. We shall miss him. We do wish him all the very best in his new venture.
I want to read something which was written by me, not by a Judge. This appears in the Connecticut Lawyer and I said this, "Chief Justice Speziale fully recognized the position of lawyers in our judicial system and frequently called upon the organized bar to assist in various projects. He sought the advice of the bar most recently on such matters as establishment and rules for the Appellate Court, judicial evaluation of Judges and control of Court dockets. Chief Justice Speziale is a towering figure in the history of Connecticut law and his efforts to bring the law to the people of the State as efficiently and expeditiously as possible will not soon be forgotten."
Chief Justice, we are proud to have been associated with you and we wish you all the best of luck. Thank you very much.
CHIEF JUSTICE SPEZIALE: At this time I would like to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to Justice Peters, Justice Healey, and Attorney Beckwith for their very kind and considerate remarks.
Words alone cannot adequately express and describe the feelings that I have in my heart at this time.
On September 12th of this year, after first informing Governor O'Neill and the members of the Supreme Court, I announced that I was retiring as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, effective November 21, 1984, to return to the private sector.
Because our judicial process requires that I cannot partic¬ipate in any Supreme Court decision rendered after that date, today is the final day that I will preside in this court¬room as Chief Justice of our Supreme Court.
I'm sure you appreciate that my decision to retire as Chief Justice was made only after much soul-searching and many long discussions with my wife and family. It has become apparent to me that while I am still young enough and healthy enough to continue, the time has come to do other things where the pressures and responsibilities are not as demanding and where I may fulfill my desire to be able to better enjoy both my family and the world around me.
As you know, I've decided to return to the active practice of law. My practice will be primarily in the Hartford area, which I know so well and enjoy so much.
This decision, to accept a new and exciting challenge, has not been an easy one. However, I look back upon my career in public service with satisfaction and a strong sense of accomplishment. For most of my adult life I have served in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of our State government. During the last quarter of a century, I have worked in a wide range of judicial capacities where every aspect of my life has been devoted to my judicial responsibili¬ties. I believe I have done it all and it is now time to move on.
It is so hard to believe that it was three years ago, three years to this very day, almost to this very hour, right here in this courtroom that I received the oath of office as Chief Justice from Governor O'Neill. Many of you who are here today were here then when I said that for me the American dream had indeed become a reality. This is as true now as it was then, even though I have decided to move on to other challenges. And I shall be forever grateful for the honor and trust which was placed in me in all of the judicial positions which I have held.
We have accomplished much in the past three years. We have been more accessible, more open, both in terms of what we do and how we do it; and I believe that the people of Con¬necticut appreciate that openness. The public is aware that the Judges and employees of the judicial branch have never worked harder, nor have they ever been more productive.
Many of our accomplishments would not have been possi¬ble without the support of many individuals in both the executive and the legislative branches, who in spite of difficult financial times did recognize the very real needs and priorities of the judicial branch. I have found that communi¬cation and cooperation among our three branches of govern¬ment are not only desirable but also vital in serving the best interests of the citizens of our State. During my tenure as Chief Court Administrator and as Chief Justice this relation¬ship has been developed and nurtured.
To Governor O'Neill and his advisors, also to the leaders and members of the General Assembly, especially those on the judiciary and appropriations committees, go my unending gratitude and sincere thanks for their cooperation, sup¬port and understanding.
To the Supreme Court staff, the Clerk's Office, the Staff Attorney's Office, the Reporter of Judicial Decisions' Office, the law clerks and to all our secretaries goes my heartfelt appreciation for their loyalty and hard work. To our out¬standing administrative staff and to all the employees of the judicial branch I extend my sincere thanks for their commit¬ment to justice and accomplishment. Yes, we have made a great team together during some very difficult times; and although it will be impossible for me to thank them all individually I want them to know that I pray that God will bless them. I know that I shall miss them so very much.
To the members of the bar represented today by the Presi¬dent of the Connecticut Bar Association, Attorney Raymond W. Beckwith, I commend them for their cooperation and sup¬port in our joint efforts to improve our judicial system. In recent years the bar has played an increasingly major role, both in the movement of cases and in attempts to solve the many problems which face us. Their involvement has given birth to a new cooperative effort from which our judicial sys¬tem has benefited and will continue to benefit greatly.
I want to thank all of the Judges of the Superior Court and the Judges of our new Appellate Court for their hard work and dedication. The demands on them have been unprecedented, but they have given much more than was expected and we have met our many grave challenges.
To my colleagues on the Supreme Court, I ask God's bless¬ing, that he give you all the strength and the courage to decide the many difficult problems which you face each and every day.
Only those who are called upon to serve in this awesome responsibility can really know the total commitment which is required of the Justices of the Supreme Court. I've been blessed with a Supreme Court which consists of dedicated, knowledgeable, and hard working Justices. To them and to the Judges of the Superior Court who have been called upon to sit as members of this Court, I extend my thanks and appreciation. I have such great respect for this Court's inde¬pendence, its integrity, its wisdom, and its compassion. We know the many winds of social change which swirl around us, yet this Court has always been a steadying influence, bending to change only when change is necessary and just, not when it is expedient.
I believe that the bar has a critical role to play in the judi¬cial affairs of our State. That is why, although I will be leav¬ing the public sector, I plan to remain active as a private citizen in all aspects of the legal profession which I love and respect. I plan to continue in my lifelong efforts to fight for improvements in the administration of justice for all the peo¬ple of this great State.
As I stated in my resignation letter to the Governor, "since November 23rd, 1961, I have had the high honor to serve the people of the State of Connecticut as a member of their judiciary. My many fond memories and rewarding experi¬ences during those twenty-three years will remain with me for the rest of my life."
And in his gracious letter to me, Governor O'Neill indi¬cated that our leadership "has provided Connecticut with renewed confidence in the judicial process." I sincerely hope that this is a true reflection of the attitude of the people of our beloved State; and if it is, then no individual or judicial administration can leave a greater legacy. These two letters sum up, I believe, what we have tried to do and what we have done. Mr. Clerk, I would ask that both these letters be included as part of the record of these proceedings.
As I attempt to express my feelings today I can only con¬clude with three very humble statements: I shall always love this room. I shall always love this Court. And I shall always cherish the years that with God's help we have been able to spend together.
At this time if you would all please rise with me: And now, after almost a quarter of a century of proud judicial service to the people of the State of Connecticut, it is with a heavy heart I say for the last time, Mr. Sheriff, you may open Court.
The following letters were made part of the official record of the proceedings.
September 18, 1984
Dear Governor O'Neill:
It is with mixed emotions that I submit to you my resignation as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and a Judge of the Superior Court, effective November 21, 1984, at 12:01 a.m. This resignation is in accordance with the Connecticut General Statutes, Section 51-45, Section 51-50a, and Section 51-50, as amended by Public Act 84-399.
Since November 23, 1961, I have had the high honor to serve the people of the State of Connecticut as a member of their judiciary. My many fond memories and rewarding experiences during those twenty-three years will remain with me for the rest of my life.
Please accept my gratitude for your faith and confidence in naming me to the high office of Chief Justice.
As a private citizen, I plan to continue my lifelong efforts to seek improvements in the administration of justice. If I can be of future service to you and the people of the State of Connecticut, please do not hesitate to call upon me.
JOHN A. SPEZIALE
September 26, 1984
Dear Mr. Chief Justice:
This will acknowledge your September 18, 1984, letter informing me of your decision to resign as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and a Judge of the Superior Court, effective November 21, 1984, at 12:01 a.m. I accept your resignation with great regret.
Your twenty-three years as a member of the Judiciary have been highlighted by exemplary dedication to the people of Connecticut. They have been served well by you and that is an achievement of which you can be proud.
As Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, you have served with distinction in a difficult period. Indeed your leadership has provided Connecticut with renewed confidence in the judicial process.
I commend you for your record of public service to the State of Connecticut.
My very best wishes to you and your family in the future.
WILLIAM A. O'NEILL
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 272, pages 925 - 931
The Honorable John A. Speziale, who had a fifty year career in public service and was one of the few Connecticut citizens to have served in all three branches of state government, died on January 3, 2005, at the age of eighty-two. In addition to holding a variety of judicial appointments, Justice Speziale served in the legislature as a clerk for the General Assembly Judiciary Committee in 1949, and was elected to executive office as State Treasurer from 1959 to 1961.
Justice Speziale was born in Winsted on November 21, 1922, and graduated from Torrington High School in 1940. He received his B.A. degree from Duke University in 1943, and earned his J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1947. He served with the United States Naval Reserve from 1942 to 1946 in the Pacific Theater during World War II as a lieutenant.
Following the war, Justice Speziale was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1948. He was engaged in the private practice of law from 1948 to 1961, when he began his judicial service, and again from 1984, when he retired from public life, until his death in 2005. He also served as a municipal court judge in Torrington from 1949 to 1951, an attorney for the federal Office of Price Stabilization from 1951 to 1952, a member of the Connecticut State Judicial Council from 1955 to 1959, and city attorney for Torrington from 1957 to 1959.
In 1961, Justice Speziale began his state judicial career when he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas. Thereafter, in 1965, he became a judge of the Superior Court, which he came to lead as the Chief Judge from 1975 to 1977. Subsequently, he served as the Presiding Judge of the Appellate Session of the Superior Court from 1975 to 1977. Justice Speziale was elevated to the Connecticut Supreme Court in 1977, where he served as an associate justice. In 1978, Justice Speziale was selected as the Chief Court Administrator of the judicial branch and served in that position until 1981. On November 12,1981, he was nominated as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and served until resigning from that position on November 21, 1984, at the age of sixty-two, to return to the private sector.
During his seven and one-half years as a justice on the Supreme Court, Justice Speziale participated in the deliberations and dispositions of 591 cases that were argued to the court. He authored 152 majority opinions, three concurring opinions and six dissenting opinions. On November 6, 1984, at a ceremony marking Justice Speziale’s retirement from the Connecticut Supreme Court, Justice Ellen A. Peters remarked that many of those opinions have “changed the legal landscape of the State of Connecticut. John Speziale’s keen sense of justice is manifest in his opinions on the law of criminal procedure. An early dissenting opinion exposed problems with our system of plea bargaining. Another major opinion addressed the integrity of jury deliberations. Other cases in the criminal law dealt carefully with the sensitive issues that surround the validity of confessions and the legality of searches.
“But justice is, of course, not confined to the proper resolution of questions of criminal law. And so John Speziale wrote during his time on the Court opinions: guaranteeing a debtor a right to a fair hearing before his property could be taken by foreclosure; assuring electors that absentee ballots would be fairly administered; and promising litigants in family disputes that they would have a full judicial consideration of their personal and property rights. Other landmark cases gave notice of his and the Court’s commitment to the principles of case flow management. Finally during the last Court year the Chief Justice led the Court to new formulations of the conflicting rights of privacy and the press and of the role of the legislature and the judiciary in the impeachment process.
“This is a record of significant achievement which all of us on the bench aspire to emulate. It reflects the understanding that Supreme Courts in a democratic society have a dual role—the adjudication of legal disputes and the development of legal rules. It is the latter role, the development of legal rules, that is essential to the sound growth of a reasoned legal system. . . . . [T]he judicial opinions which give us guidance for the future are those which, like those of John Speziale, search for principles, articulate guidelines, and thus confront the underlying issues.”
Justice Speziale was also greatly respected and admired by the members of the state bar for dedicating himself to creating a harmonious relationship between the bench and the bar for the benefit of the public. On the occasion of Justice Speziale’s retirement from the Supreme Court, Attorney Raymond Beckwith, the president of the Connecticut Bar Association, offered the following praise: “Chief Justice Speziale fully recognized the position of lawyers in our judicial system and frequently called upon the organized bar to assist in various projects. He sought the advice of the bar most recently on such matters as establishment and rules for the Appellate Court, judicial evaluation of Judges and control of court dockets. Chief Justice Speziale is a towering figure in the history of Connecticut law and his efforts to bring the law to the people of the State as efficiently and expeditiously as possible will not soon be forgotten.”
During his tenure as Chief Court Administrator, Justice Speziale was directly responsible for numerous radical changes within the judicial branch. He pushed for the merging of the Court of Common Pleas and the Superior Court into a unified court system. He worked tirelessly for the creation of the state’s intermediate Appellate Court. He lobbied for an increase in the number of trial judges as well and their salaries in order to attract and to retain able lawyers for the judiciary. In addition, the quality of judicial performance was enhanced by the expanded educational programs available to the trial judges and by systematic performance review. Justice Speziale also established the attorney trial referee program with the goal of eliminating the litigation backlog in the court system. Under Justice Speziale, Connecticut became a national model for how to expedite case flow. Justice Speziale also emphasized the appointment of women to judicial positions, as he appointed the state’s first female prosecutor, Anne C. Dranginis, later a judge on the Connecticut Appellate Court.
Throughout his distinguished legal and judicial career, Justice Speziale also served as a member of the following committees and organizations: Executive Committee of the National Conference of State Trial Judges, Judicial Review Council, American Bar Association, Executive Committee of the Superior Court, Chairman of the Connecticut Planning Commission on Criminal Administration, Commission on Adult Probation, Advisory Council on Court Unification, Board of Pardons, Commission on Official Legal Publications, Connecticut Bar Association, Litchfield County Bar Association, Institute of Judicial Administration, Connecticut Justice Commission, American Judicature Society, American Bar Foundation, Chairman of the State-Federal Relations Commission of the Conference of Chief Justices, Supreme Court Historical Society, Lawyers Committee of the National Center for State Courts, and Attorney Trial Referee.
In addition to his judicial duties, Justice Speziale was very active in politics and local community affairs with the following organizations: St. Peter Church, Board of Directors of Newington Children’s Hospital, Trustee of Connecticut Junior Republic Knights of Columbus, American Federation of Musicians, Order of the Sons of Italy in America, Litchfield County University Club, Torrington Country Club, Connecticut State Seniors Golf Association and Bear Lakes Country Club of West Palm Beach.
Justice Speziale, a devoted family man, was survived by his wife of sixty years, Mary Kocsis Speziale, and their children, John A. Speziale, Jr., and Marcia Jean Speziale, as well as two grandchildren.
The legacy of Justice Speziale was summed up by Chief Justice William J. Sullivan in the following statement: “For over 50 years he was an outstanding lawyer and jurist who brought great honor and respect to the legal profession. People of Justice Speziale’s stature are irreplaceable.”
On January 5, 2005, Judge Anne Dranginis, a longtime friend of Justice Speziale, delivered the following eulogy at his funeral. “For nineteen years, John Speziale hosted a Christmas luncheon at his beloved Venetian Restaurant almost across the street, for all the judges then serving in the Litchfield judicial district, most often Jed Pickett, Charlie Gill, Dick Walsh and I. He met the new judges, like Randy DiPentima, and kept up with his old friends, like Roy Daly. We ‘talked shop’ and of course, about the old days. About the Peter Reilly case, and the upstart young woman lawyer in the mid-70s who applied for the state’s attorney’s job, after John Bianchi’s untimely death. We shared a martini and he and I would order baccala and polenta, specially made for the holidays by Fiorita and Michael DiLullo. Of course, ‘the judge of the people’ as he called probate Judge Joe Gallicchio, rounded out the table.
“Yesterday morning Joe and I talked about how hard it was to believe that John Speziale had retired from the bench that long ago.
“It is with sadness at his loss that we come together today, but it is also a time to celebrate his fabulous life. He was a visionary, an icon, and a giant in the law of our recent history. The justices of the Supreme Court, the judges of the Appellate Court and Superior Court join in this tribute to a great leader. The members of the bar who join with us today know the dedication and excellence that defined him and which was expected of them as they appeared before him, or worked with him to improve justice. As with many of you here, in my public life, I will miss his wise counsel in the important decisions of my life.
“It is also a day to celebrate a loyal and loving man, who was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, mentor, and friend to all of us in this church. Yes, we all know, John and Marcia, that he was a worrywart, and that he may well have driven you a bit crazy at times . . . and Mary the tales you must have heard! He was, as his long-time secretary, Barbara Bongiolatti said last night, a very private person . . . and I would add . . . in a very public job.
“John Speziale was always serious . . . as a young student, as a member of the ‘greatest generation’ doing his duty in the pacific theatre in World War II, as a law student at Duke . . . and maybe too serious about such things as his musical talent . . . Mary agreed that he played with the big bands at Duke, but just perhaps he wasn’t as accomplished at the clarinet as at his studies!
“It was not unusual for members of our armed services to return home after seeing the world at war. John Speziale came back to the place of his roots. He came home after law school to care for family, friends, and his community. Over time that community just got larger and larger.
“ ‘Don’t dillydally, vote for Speziale’ was his playful theme when he ran and won the office of Treasurer of the state of Connecticut. We might giggle today at that phrase, the simplicity, the purposefulness of it. But it gave us a window into not only his public formality, but also his private elfishness . . . that little glint in his eyes, that was part of who he was as well. He never did ‘dillydally.’ He was always busy, always involved, always caring . . . even to the end. His sense of duty and his love of people naturally led him into public service, in the legislative and executive branches of government. His love of the law led him to the bench.
“He was a judge for quite a while before he tried the Peter Reilly case. But it was in that case, in the petition for a new trial, that he became the ‘poster boy’ of the trial judge as he wrote his opinion on the kitchen table . . . alone, handling a most controversial and divisive issue . . . a moment in time, when character is tested, courage displayed, enemies made. There was no time for playfulness in this instance, and the glint became a steely glare. For Judge Speziale, a ‘grave injustice’ had been done, and there was nothing to do but put his body, mind, reputation and career on the line, so that all of us can enjoy the ultimate benefit of this great nation . . . justice first, last, and always. Few of us on the bench ever are asked to be that alone.
“But that is only part of his story as part of our history of the Connecticut courts. His administrative leadership changed 200 years of court history in six years . . . that’s about how long it took him to finally convince the governor, the legislators, and indeed his colleagues on the Superior Court bench that we should have a single tier trial court system. That change occurred in 1978. By 1983, he saw the establishment of the Connecticut Appellate Court. We just celebrated our 20th anniversary this past October, and dedicated that celebration to him. Former Chief Judge Antoinette ‘Billie’ Dupont remembered Justice Speziale as her champion, even after he had left the bench. And he was proud of her fourteen years of leadership on the Appellate Court.
“His work as an administrator was the culmination of an effort that brought the Connecticut judicial branch into the 20th century and prepared it for the 21st.
“How lucky we were to have had him at the right place at the right time. Although every chief justice has contributed uniquely in his or her own way, considering the time allotted to each, and the enormity of some tasks, but John Speziale has to be, in retrospect, pound for pound, and punch for punch . . . the best that ever stepped into the judicial ring as the ‘C.J.,’ which means undisputed champion judge. He was able to take his vision, translate it from experience into workable plans, and use his considerable political skills to make it happen. In that rough and tumble world, he was a heavyweight.
“And perhaps that is why we think of him as still being so ‘present’ to us and with us. His forward thinking, his modern approach is alive and well in the Connecticut courts and has been the model for other court systems around this great country. When his portrait was unveiled in the Supreme Court, he was honored by the national center for state courts. We were the beneficiaries of his world view of how courts could be relevant in the modern world.
“His belief in the value of mediation, and his work after retirement have been a model for alternative dispute resolution for which the Connecticut Bar Association has honored him with an ADR symposium in his name. He told me recently ‘if people were honest and sincere we could settle the case.’ He took great pride in that. He also bragged that they waited in line to see him, with a little laugh to follow. Even in retirement, Speziale did not dillydally.
“In one of our last visits, when it was obvious to him that the end was near, he told me ‘life is what it is.’ I know he was eager for more, to give more, to watch the next step, to be part of the game. He smiled, and said there had been ‘so many problems and sadness, but ever so much more joy.’
“He was joyful in his work, which is why he worked so hard. He felt joy at his accomplishments, which were many. He enjoyed his golf, his friends, Rhode Island, Florida . . . his was such a full life.
“His most treasured joy was his family. Mary, last Tuesday he said he didn’t know where you got the strength . . . you all gave him the final gift of Christmas at home. For sharing John with all of us, thank you.
“We grieve our loss today, but it would not serve his memory for us to do anything more that to go out there and dive into the ring . . . and fight the good fight ... to insist on preparation and dedication, and in all cases to do only the proper things, even if it is unpopular . . . to stand up for justice.
“So don’t dillydally, emulate John Speziale.”
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 173, page iii
Appointed to the Supreme Court March 16, 1977, effective May 6, 1977.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 175, page iii
Appointed Chief Court Administrator March 2, 1978, to take effect April 24, 1978.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 185, page iii
Appointed Chief Justice February 25, 1981, to take effect November 12, 1981
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 194, page iii
Retired November 21, 1984.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 90, pages 720 - 722
LEWIS ELIOTT STANTON, one of the oldest members of the Hartford County bar, died August 28th, 1916. He was born at Clinton, in this State, July 19th, 1833, and on his father’s side was descended from Thomas Stanton, one of the founders of Hartford, and through his mother traced his ancestry to the Rev. John Eliott, well known for his missionary work among the Indians. He prepared for college at Bacon Academy, Colchester, and was graduated from Yale in 1855. After his graduation he taught school for a short time and then began the study of law at the Yale Law School, completing his studies, however, in the office of John S. Beach, Esq., in New Haven. He was admitted to the bar at New Haven in April, 1859.
Although Mr. Stanton came from a strong New England family, his parents had neither the position nor the means to assist him in becoming established in the practice of law. For this he was dependent upon his own efforts. After his admission he first located in Norwich and practiced law there from 1859 to 1865. In Norwich he held the office of Assistant Clerk of the Superior Court for a time, and was also recorder of the City Court. In 1865, for the purpose of entering a wider field, he moved to Hartford and formed a partnership with the late John C. Day, under the name of Day & Stanton, and this partnership continued until 1871. After that Mr. Stanton practiced alone. He lived in Hartford the rest of his life, being one of its respected citizens, acquiring a good practice and becoming one of the leading lawyers of the Hartford County bar. He was Assistant United States District Attorney from 1870 to 1884, and United States District Attorney from 1884 to 1888. In 1888 he was a member of the General Assembly from Hartford and was chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Mr. Stanton was a close observer of the political and industrial developments that took place in his day, and was always interested in State and city affairs. He read widely in literature and history and became a man of intellectual culture. He held few public offices, however, and his private interests were not exacting. To become a lawyer of attainment was his early ambition, and from youth to age, with rare steadfastness, he strove to accomplish this one purpose. During a long life he devoted his time and energy to the study and practice of law. Nature endowed him with a scholarly mind, and he had trained himself to do severe intellectual work. He constantly studied law, not alone for the purposes of the moment, but to fully understand the great underlying principles of our system and the course of their development. He was a well read lawyer.
By study alone, however, one seldom acquires a high position at the bar, and Mr. Stanton knew this. He recognized that the practice of law required energy and courage and that one must be willing to undertake the task that came, whether it was hard or easy. To do this he made a habit of his life. He patiently investigated facts, carefully analyzed and studied the principles of law involved, brought to his work all the energy and force he had, and thus became a trusted counselor and a respected advocate.
It was never Mr. Stanton’s desire to handle a large number of legal matters at any one time, and it was averse to his nature to be hurried in the practice of law. He preferred, rather, to have only a few cases of importance, with plenty of time to thoroughly study and understand them. He gave considerable attention to Federal matters, became quite familiar with practice in the United States courts, and it was his privilege to argue several cases in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Mr. Stanton was fortunate in having a fine presence, and in the trial of cases he was always dignified in his bearing, respectful to the court, prepared to thoroughly present the facts and the law, and clear and logical in his arguments. As a counselor he was sound, conservative, and watchful of his client’s interests.
He had never married and his whole life was lived in a legal atmosphere. For years he attended the annual meeting of the American Bar Association and he knew many of the distinguished lawyers of his time. He was president for some time of the Hartford Bar Association, and to this Association he bequeathed his law library. He was a man of ability and high character, a courteous gentleman, and by his own efforts and the devotion of his life to his chosen profession, he had become one of the best equipped lawyers of the State and one of the leading members of its bar.
*Prepared by Edward M. Day, Esq., of the Hartford County bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 204, page 813
1903 - 1987
The Hon. Luke H. Stapleton, a former legislator and judge of the Circuit Court in Meriden from its creation in 1961 to his retirement in 1973, died April 3, 1987, at the age of 83.
Judge Stapleton was born in Waterbury on May 20, 1903. He received his B.A. degree from Catholic University in 1925 and his LL.B. degree from the Georgetown University School of Law in 1929. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar that same year.
Judge Stapleton served as assistant clerk and acting prosecutor of the Court of Common Pleas from 1929 to 1945. He also served as probate judge in Cheshire from 1940 until his appointment to the bench in 1961.
Judge Stapleton was a member of the state House of Representatives for two terms, beginning in 1937 and 1945. He also served in the state Senate in 1947 and 1949, serving as majority leader in 1947.
Following his retirement, Judge Stapleton served as a state trial referee of the Circuit Court until he moved to Florida in 1985.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 43, pages 602 - 604
HENRY HOWARD STARKWEATHER, died at Washington, during the session of Congress, of which he was a member, on the 28th of January, 1876. He was born in Preston, in the county of New London and state of Connecticut, on the 29th day of April, 1826. He was of respectable parentage, and received counsels well fitted to the susceptibilities of early life. He was impressed from his boyhood with the conviction that if he accomplished any thing commendable in life it must be the fruit of his personal endeavor. Although his early years were devoted to labor on his father's farm in his native town, he employed his leisure hours in reading, in the observation of men, and in the study of the causes that lie at the foundation of the triumphs and defeats by which the history of the world is marked. He thus laid down at the beginning of life the great law which guided him to its close.
At the age of twenty-two he went to Norwich and entered the law office of the Hon. Lafayette S. Foster, under whose guidance and tutelage he studied until he was admitted to practice in 1850. Shortly after his admission to the bar he formed a partnership with the Hon. Edmund Perkins of Norwich, then a leading lawyer in Eastern Connecticut, with whom he was associated for several years. He was an assiduous worker, and soon acquired an enviable position among his professional associates, among whom were numbered some of the ablest and most distinguished in the state.
He labored in his profession but little more than a decade when his tastes and inclinations led him into political life. He was appointed postmaster at Norwich in 1861, and thereafter gave but little if any attention to his profession. In politics he was originally a whig, but was active in the formation of the republican party, by which organization he was elected a member of the lower house in the state legislature in 1856. He was also a delegate to the republican national conventions in 1860 and 1868. It is conceded that the places of responsibility in which he moved were filled to general acceptance and with marked ability.
As a private citizen, as a member of a Christian church, as a lawyer, as a politician, as representative in Congress for a longer period than any of his predecessors, he was respected, honored, and successful. He entered Congress in 1867 without the prestige of a great name. His approach was heralded by no marked achievements, by no appendage that would lift him up to high eminence at the outset. In the absence of these, accompanied with an unpretending, unobtrusive demeanor, it would not have been deemed strange had he ranked among the least distinguished of the representatives of the nation. But he had influence from the beginning, and his influence had rapid and consistent growth, till it culminated in placing him among the wisest, the safest, the ablest members of the body to which he belonged at the time of his death. It has been said of him, and we believe justly, that none among the republican members of the house had won more or better friends, and, with a single exception, had gained greater influence or a more thorough understanding of the principles which lie at the foundation of our national prosperity. There were none among them whose wisdom was more sought in emergencies, none whose judgment was more respected, none whose keen penetration and foresight did better service in seasonably detecting threatened evils, and in devising the best means for the general good.
Mr. Starkweather was remarkable for power of intuition. What the mass of men learn by protracted examination and study, by reasoning and deduction, he comprehended at a glance - a power that contributed greatly to his influence and success.
He was distinguished for strong common sense. He did things at the right time and in the right place. He never violated the laws of propriety in his business transactions or in any of the relations of life. He knew well how to avoid in language and practice whatever would subject him to the envy or censure of his associates, or awaken anywhere aversion. He had a kind regard for the feelings and interests of others, and a way of showing it, that commended him readily to the confidence of all. He had a classic face, full of tenderness and power, which well expressed the features of his mind. The law of kindness was written all over it, and on all his movements, so prominently that none feared betrayal in unbosoming to him their burdens or seeking his counsel. Another marked trait of his character was inflexible honesty. In his counsels, in his measures, in his life, everywhere, its principles governed him. He never sacrificed it to secure personal gain, or to please, or to carry out any purpose, however seemingly important. He was a philanthropist and patriot in the best sense, and above all a Christian gentleman, without affectation of sanctity; without any ostentatious observance of the ritual of Christianity, entirely exempt from all taint of sectarian bigotry, he was a cordial believer in the principles of the Christian religion. A religion of kindness, of integrity, and of benevolence in its largest breadth was his religion. The virtues of which humanity is capable had in him evidently more than ordinarily consistent and vigorous development. The remembrance of them is fragrant. It is pleasant to call to mind an example of such excellence, when many are proving faithless to their trusts, and utterances of the degeneracy of the race are being heard from so many tongues. It is pleasant to trace in such a life so much that is ennobling and pure, now left as a legacy to his family, to the church, and to the nation. We rise to a higher appreciation of man's dignity and glory in the contemplation of these virtues. But we mourn that his light went out in the pride of his manhood, "before even the frosts of age had silvered his locks, or the hand of Time furrowed his brow," and we shall ever retain the remembrance of his person and character with mingled feelings of reverence and love.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by Allen Tenny, Esq., of the New London County Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 72, pages 737 - 738
TIMOTHY ELEAZER STEELE, the son of Sanford and Caroline E. (Sumner) Steele, was born in Bolton, September 1st, 1837, and died in Hartford, June 30th, 1899.
He prepared for college at Wilbraham Academy and graduated from Wesleyan University in 1863. He studied law with the late Hon. Thomas C. Perkins, was admitted to the bar in 1865, and from that time until his death was engaged in practice in Hartford. His career at the bar was useful and honorable. A safe counselor, his tastes and talents made him pre-eminently a trial lawyer. He was industrious and painstaking in the preparation of cases for trial. In the conduct of trials he was forceful and straightforward, thoroughly master of his own case, and quick to take advantage of every weakness of his opponent. While making no pretense to oratory in any technical sense, Mr. Steele was clear and convincing in stating his case to court or jury, and very few surpassed him in the skillfulness with which he presented the evidence in a case to the jury.
In speaking to resolutions of respect adopted at a meeting of the Hartford County Bar, Judge David S. Calhoun said; "While on the bench I was always interested in the way Mr. Steele tried his cases. He was positive and industrious in the biggest degree and was possessed of a rigid honesty. I do not speak of honesty in any limited or restrictive sense. Mr. Steele was an honest man before he became a lawyer, and when he became a lawyer he did not leave his honesty behind him. His methods in court were open and honest, and it was never necessary for the opposing lawyer to inquire whether he had a private wire leading to the jury box. He was a fearless man, a man who not only had physical but moral courage, and nothing ever swayed him from doing what he thought was right."
Mr. Steele represented Bolton in the General Assembly in 1866. After removing to Hartford, he served in the council board from 1873 to 1875, being president of the board for two years. From 1891 to 1894 he was city attorney, and from 1894 to 1897, street commissioner. He was an intelligent student of municipal problems and a conspicuously useful and honorable public servant. His interest in the public schools led him to serve the district in which he resided for many years as chairman of its committee.
While not ambitious of political preferment, Mr. Steele was a man of strong political convictions and he never hesitated to avow and champion his views. His advice in political matters was highly valued by the local leaders of the political party with which he affiliated.
Mr. Steele found his chief pleasures in the companionship of his chosen friends and in the intimacies of domestic life. As a comrade he was entertaining and instructive; as a friend, steadfast and loyal. His wife, who prior to marriage was Miss Clara J. Eaton, of Longmeadow, Mass., and five children survive him.
*Prepared by Francis H. Parker, Esq., at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 133, pages 746 - 747
Charles Lyman Stewart passed away at Norwich on the fifteenth day of March, 1947, after an illness of some five months. Mr. Stewart was born in North Scituate, Rhode Island, on September 12, 1883, the son of Nathan and Melissa Nye Stewart. In 1885, his parents removed to North Stonington, Connecticut, where his father engaged in farming and where Mr. Stewart spent his youth in labor upon the farm and in attendance at the schools of that town. He graduated from the Wheeler High School in North Stonington and later attended the Norwich Free Academy at Norwich. After teaching school for a time to earn the necessary funds. he entered Yale Law School, from which he was graduated cum laude with the class of 1908.
On June 25, 1908, he was admitted to the Connecticut bar and became associated with Gardiner Greene in the practice of law at Norwich. Mr. Greene was then a prominent lawyer and later become a judge of the Superior Court. Upon his death, Mr. Stewart continued to practice his profession alone with marked success. He was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States in 1937.
Mr. Stewart's early life was not a bed of roses. He had to be industrious in order to exist, and it was only by reason of his sturdy ambition to succeed, coupled with an untiring industry, a fine ability and an inherent honesty, that he came to enjoy a worthwhile position in his chosen profession.
He was appointed public defender in the Superior Court for New London County on July 21, 1921, and served in this capacity with ability for nearly twelve years. He represented North Stonington in the lower house of the Connecticut General Assembly at its 1911 session and served on the important judiciary committee. After this experience in public life, he sought no further political honors and devoted his energies to the practice of law. He was ever mindful, however, of his civic duties and responsibilities and always stood ready to give his loyal support to any worth-while cause. He was much interested in the Johnson Home for the aged in Norwich and for many years served as its secretary and treasurer. He was a member of the Society of the Founders of Norwich and was very prominent in the Masonic fraternity.
On February 7, 1912, Mr. Stewart was united in marriage with Mary Lewis of North Stonington, and of this marriage three children were born, Miss Dorothy B. Stewart, now of Washington, D. C., Mrs. Francis L. Bosqui of Westport, Conn., and Charles L. Stewart, Jr., of Norwich, Conn., all of whom survive, together with a grandchild, Carolyn Reynolds Bosqui.
By reason of a severe illness with which he was stricken during the middle years of his life, Mr. Stewart was prevented for several years from engaging in the practice of his profession. He regained his health, however, after a long struggle, and with a superb courage again opened his office in Norwich and began to rebuild that which had been lost during the years of his incapacity. In this he was most successful and for ten years prior to his death he enjoyed a large and lucrative practice.
Mr. Stewart had the will to overcome all obstacles and misfortunes. He met the responsibilities of a busy life with courage and capacity and won for himself a high place in his chosen profession. He was most companionable and a host of friends will miss his cheery presence.
*Prepared by Arthur M. Brown, of the Norwich bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 82, pages 715 - 717
GOODWIN STODDARD was born at Seymour in this State on April 2d, 1847. His family early moved to Milford, and from there, after showing marked capacity in his studies, he went at fifteen years of age to Freehold, New Jersey, to teach school. He soon enlisted in the navy, and on the Gettysburg saw service in the Gulf of Mexico and at the siege of Vicksburg. He was honorably discharged July 10th, 1864. Taking up at once the study of the law, as had long been his ambition, he was graduated from the Albany Law School in 1867. In January, 1868, before he was yet twenty-one years of age, he passed his examination for admission to the bar, and soon thereafter opened an office in the Franklin Building, Bridgeport, to which he returned some years before his death, having spent his entire professional life in that city. In 1873 he represented his town in the House of Representatives, - one of the youngest men who ever sat in that body - and while there was a member of the Judiciary Committee.
And so, having served his country in the navy, his State in the legislature, his city in faultless citizenship, his clients in wisest service, his family in loving care, and his friends in countless offices of kindness, with a cheerful fortitude which months of failing power could not diminish, on July 26th, 1909, he entered into rest.
Those who remember him in the early days of his professional career realize that the innate courtesy of character, the methods of work and the type of mind which he then exhibited, inevitably led straight upward, and could not have been denied supremacy. No one in his county stood higher in the profession, and few, if any, in the State. He was conspicuously a gentleman. Always considerate and thoughtful, none of his associates can remember an unkind word or selfish act in all his life. He came nearest to harshness when condemning lack of courtesy in others. He held high ideals of honor which he never departed from, and probably did more by his example to maintain the standard of the bar in that respect than any of its committees have accomplished by their presentments. No opponent was ever known to complain of the unfairness of his methods, nor did any of the countless witnesses, from whom with matchless skill he had extracted evidence against their wishes, remember him otherwise than as a persistent but courteous examiner. He might be too busy to take new employment, but always had time to help a troubled brother lawyer. He was as attractive in his private life as he was eminent in his profession, and died without an enemy.
In the management of matters committed to his care, he was painstaking and conservative. He trusted much to preparatory work and little to inspiration. He generally knew as much about the authorities on the other side as on his own, and when his argument was finished the court had the whole case before it. He did not excel in that most dangerous of all a lawyer's gifts - eloquence in advocacy - but possessed capacity for marked clearness of statement, and never mistook the controlling features of his task.
His unusual ability was evidenced by the great importance of the matters intrusted to his care, and even more unmistakably by the fact that his fellow-lawyers so frequently associated him in their causes. He was a wise counselor, a shrewd trier, and a great examiner of witnesses. His sound business advice accounts for not a few revived and now prosperous enterprises, and his office triumphs are probably as great as those associated with his name in court. He was a born lawyer, with an unerring instinct for the main road, a sure detection of useless byways, however tempting, and an admirable judgment as to worth-while goals. If favorable decisions are complimentary, the Connecticut Reports are filled with his praise. He loved his profession, devoted his time and talents - save for his family and friends - unreservedly to it, kept pace with its progress, and probably sacrificed himself upon its altar. He rests from labors all too soon completed and his works do follow him. The Connecticut Bar is, and long must be, better for Goodwin Stoddard's sojourn in its membership, and few of us would care for other monument than that.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter by the Hon. John H. Perry of the Fairfield County Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 127, pages 732 - 735
The death of Henry Stoddard, of Woodbridge, on February 9, 1941, brought to a close a unique legal career. For variety of experience, length of active work, originality of method and success in litigation it would be difficult to find a duplicate in the life of any lawyer. Born in Bethany in 1843, of a sound old Connecticut family, he was one of four brothers who distinguished themselves as professional men. His brother, Goodwin, was an illustrious member of the Fairfield County bar. William practiced law in New Haven County, and Robert was a successful physician in Texas.
After attending the Albany Law School, Henry Stoddard was admitted to the bar of New York State and the New Haven County bar in 1864. His early years as a lawyer were not easy. He at once exhibited a talent for court room work, which was characterized by that pertinacity which in later years, combined with ripe experience and extraordinary resourcefulness, produced such favorable results in the trial of causes. His name first appears as counsel in the Supreme Court of Errors in the case of Shelton v. French, 33 Conn. 488, in 1866. From that time on for a number of years he appears very often in a constant succession of small cases of great variety. This records shows that Mr. Stoddard's skill and judgment as an advocate in later life were developed by many years of hard experience at the bar. To this was later added deep thought upon the problems he had to decide while on the bench.
Before he was appointed to the Superior Court, he was active in politics on the Democratic side. He held for brief periods successively the offices of assemblyman, state senator, city attorney of New Haven, judge of the New Haven City Court, corporation counsel of the city of New Haven, and judge of the Court of Common Pleas. In 1882 Judge Stoddard was appointed a judge of the Superior Court. Almost immediately upon his appointment he was called upon to sit as a judge of the Supreme Court of Errors, and throughout his term in the Superior Court he acted frequently in the higher tribunal as well. His first opinion as a judge of the Supreme Court of Errors appears as early as the 50th volume of the Connecticut Reports in 1882.
When he resigned as a judge in 1888, Judge Stoddard entered immediately upon practice in New Haven County and throughout the state. He was at first a member of the firm of Bristol, Stoddard & Bristol, which subsequently became Bristol, Stoddard, Beach & Fisher. In this latter firm he was associated with the late Louis H. Bristol, John W. Bristol, John K. Beach, subsequently a judge of the Supreme Court of Errors, and Samuel H. Fisher, now of Litchfield. Subsequently Judge Stoddard became a member of the firm of Bristol & White, and since 1934 he has been senior partner in the firm of Wiggin & Dana. For more than a generation Judge Stoddard served as senior counsel for Yale University, in whose legal affairs he retained an intense interest until the time of his death. He lectured for some years at the Yale Law School and received the degree of M.A. from the University in 1888. He was trial attorney for the University in early tax cases, and upon one occasion was sent to England to collect in the British courts a large legacy coming to Yale from the estate of Archibald Henry Blount.
With the late C. R. Ingersoll he was counsel for Luzon B. Morris in the latter's spectacular clash with Governor Bulkeley arising out of the 1890 gubernatorial election in which the vote was so close between Morris, the Democratic candidate, and Samuel E. Merwin, Republican, that the legislature was unable or refused during the next two years to declare either man elected, and the previous governor, Morgan C. Bulkeley, served throughout the ensuing two years despite the fact that he had not even been a candidate in the election. Judge Stoddard was also counsel for The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in the cases of Austin B. Fuller et ux. v. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., landmarks of the Connecticut law of insurance. Perhaps his most famous case was Bryan's Appeal, in 1904, in which he successfully opposed William Jennings Bryan's claim to a legacy under the will of Philo S. Bennett of New Haven. Judge Stoddard was before the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors with great frequency for a period of sixty-eight years. His name appears for the last time in Volume 118 in 1934 as counsel for the plaintiff in the case of MacKay v. Aetna Life Insurance Company.
As recently as 1936 he was in his office almost daily, and up to within a few months of his death he was at his desk at least once or twice every week. An article in the American Bar Journal for June, 1939, claimed for him the distinction of being the oldest practicing lawyer in the United States. He was much troubled by digestive difficulty in middle age, but his physical and mental vigor in later years was truly remarkable. He was able well into his ninth decade to stand the strain of hard trials. Though short of stature, his physique had been well developed in his youth by athletic sports, especially boxing. He was an excellent golf player until he was nearly ninety, and long after that, early risers in New Haven would meet him on his morning walk at 7 o'clock. He took great pleasure in country pursuits at his farm in Woodbridge.
It would be desirable, if possible, to convey some impression of his extraordinary power in the courtroom. He was accustomed to long and meticulous analysis and intense mental concentration in preparing for trial. When an interesting case was on his mind, there was no room there for anything else. Every day and sometimes often in a day he would bring to his associates new ideas for weighing and discussion. His inventiveness was inexhaustible. His experience had been so vast that nothing appeared to be capable of surprising him. He had always met a similar situation years before. His alertness in court was astonishing. He could sense a danger almost before it existed. And he was rarely at a loss for a means of anticipating it. He had a rugged integrity and a mental honesty which at once enabled him to pierce a specious argument and to plainly see and effectively answer the strength of an opponent's case. Fortified by most exhaustive thought about a case, and armed with complete knowledge of all the technical weapons of the advocate, he was indeed a formidable antagonist. His courtroom manner was customarily serious as befitting a serious occasion; but this would be illumined by surprising flashes of wit, which often verged upon audacity. When his advocacy was at its best, his voice and personality reached a pitch of intensity that held a courtroom breathless. This is an inborn quality possessed only by the greatest of orators and advocates. Yet he was no mere spellbinder. Though a powerful jury lawyer, he was probably at his best in the appellate courts. That is to say, he had a keen instinct for the strong point of a case, and a great ability to emphasize it and make it memorable by an argument. He might not make it prevail, but it always had to be considered.
He was an extraordinary and in some ways a typical product of old New England. Those times are gone, and we shall not look upon his like again. In closing we may borrow a quotation from Mr. F. J. Kingsbury's biographical note upon Hinman, C.J. in 35 Conn. 599. This well sums up a similar family of Yankee lawyers:
"The Southbury Hinmans are an old family, well known in the history of the region. They are a hardy, prolific, strongly individualized race; generally men and women of great physical proportions, vigor and strength, of strong wills and strong feelings, having considerable humor, not much veneration, either by nature or cultivation, but very decided conservative tendencies, sound judgment, native shrewdness, and good common sense. The family seem always to have gravitated toward the legal profession."
Judge Stoddard's wife, formerly Amelia E. Augur, of Woodbridge, whom he married in 1869, died in 1928 at the age of 89. He leaves surviving him two children, Clifford I. Stoddard, of Woodbridge, and Grace A. Ray, of Lancaster, New Hampshire, as well as six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
*Prepared by Frederick H. Wiggin, of the New Haven bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 15, appendix page 31
Born at Middletown, in this State, March 25th, 1795; educated at Yale-College, where he graduated in l814 ; read law with his brother, Henry R. Storrs, at Whitestown, N.Y. was admitted to the bar, in New York, in 1817, and in Connecticut, soon afterwards; settled in the practice of law at Middletown. He was a representative from that town in the General Assembly in the years 1827, 1828, 1829. He was a representative from this State in the Congress of the United States from March 4th, 1829, to March 4th, 1833; In 1834, he was a member of the house of representatives in the legislature of this State from the town of Middletown, and was chosen speaker. After this, he was again elected a representative in Congress, for two years, from the 4th of March, 1839 ; and served in that capacity until June, 1840; when, having been appointed an associate judge of the superior court and of the supreme court of errors, he relinquished the former situation and accepted the latter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 29, pages 608 - 611
WILLIAM LUCIUS STORRS, Chief Justice of the state, died at Hartford where he resided, on the 25th day of June, 1861, at the age of sixty-six. He was a man of commanding intellect, of great legal attainments, and of the highest order of judicial ability. He was never married. His death occurred during the session of the General Assembly, the members of which attended his funeral in a body. I can not give a better sketch of his character than is contained in an eloquent tribute paid to his memory by Hon. Henry C. Deming of Hartford, before the House of Representatives of which he was a member, at the time when the death of the Chief Justice was announced to that body. Josiah M. Carter Esq., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee on the part of the house, introduced some appropriate resolutions on the occasion, which he supported by some very feeling and eloquent remarks; after which Mr. Deming spoke as follows: -
"Mr. Speaker: -I had hoped that the chairman of the judiciary committee, actively engaged as he is in the courts of which our lamented magistrate was the ornament, familiar too with the prominent features of his legal mind, and in my judgment somewhat imbued with his spirit, would have added to the touching language in which he has announced our bereavement a full length portraiture of the fate Chief Justice's judicial character. My own burthen of the common sorrow unfits me for the task of analysis.
"To me it seems that the affliction which overwhelms the nation is, in this sudden demise, brought home to our own family and hearthstone. The shafts of death have been flying freely around us, but it is long since Connecticut has been called upon to hang the crape at her own door, and clothe herself in weeds for one of her favorite children.
"The Chief Justice for whom we now mourn was emphatically a man of the old Connecticut type, born on our soil, educated in our free schools and unendowed college, home-living, home-bred, seldom absent from our midst, representing in his mind our modes of culture, our methods of thought, our tastes and peculiarities even, our local habits and customs and laws and institutions, and devoting the best years of his life, and the blossom and fruitage of a ripe development, to the maintenance of Connecticut justice and the interpretation of Connecticut law.
The vigorous understanding, which was the foundation of his strength, as well as his massive frame, he held by inheritance from his paternal and maternal line. Col. Lemuel Storrs, his father, was one of that class of men whom natural aptitude in reasoning supplies the want of logical formulation and the training of the schools - a class of men who can turn at will the whole current and volume of their resources upon any theme of thought or business undertaking which they encounter in the pathway of life. His mother was the daughter of Col. Henry Champion of Colchester, deputy commissary of supplies during the entire period of our revolutionary war - one of the main columns of the administration of Jonathan Trumbull, the man who raised the siege of famine at Valley Forge, and received the thanks of Washington for his upright and skillful management of the commissariat. The mother is well remembered by some who are here present as a lady of decided individualities, remarkable alike for the strength and keenness of her understanding, and habitually, in the enterprises of life and the intercourse of society, employing her wit and ridicule and satire to carry those points of vantage and hostile positions which she could not batter down and demolish with her masculine common sense. From such a lineage the strong and marked outlines of Judge Storrs' mind is drawn.
He was born at Middletown, March 25th, 1795. He graduated at Yale College in 1814, with the honors of the institution, and with significant promise of his future distinction and usefulness. Having completed the course of professional study which entitled him to admission to the bar, he commenced the practice of the law in his native town, and rapidly rose to distinction in his profession. In 1827, '28, and '29, he represented Middletown upon this floor. In 1834 he was again here, and by election of the house occupied the prominent position which, Mr. Speaker, you now hold. He was elected to congress on the general ticket from 1829 to 1833. In 1839 he was commissioned by the electors of the second congressional district of this state to represent them in the national House of Representatives. He found there the memory of the brilliant congressional career of his distinguished brother, Henry R. Storrs, fresh and vivid in the minds of old associates who still lingered on that splendid arena; Judge Storrs, though affiliated with a severe illness during two winters of his sojourn at Washington, contributed his share to the reputation of the family name in the great council of the nation. He was summoned from his duties in congress by a vote of the General Assembly, which called him to his seat upon the bench of our supreme court. In 1846 and 1847, he was chief instructor of the law department of Yale College, an office which he held in connection with his judgeship, and in 1856, upon the retirement of Judge Waite, was elected to the office of Chief Justice of the state of Connecticut. His judicial life you may read in those enlightened opinions which this conscientious judge has spread upon the pages of your judicial reports, and which may be safely studied, not only on the spur of particular occasions, but as models of juridical reasoning.
"It was in the freshness and vigor of his early professional noviciate at Middletown that he laid away those stores of legal learning, and disciplined his faculties to that lawyer-like penetration and clearness, which are evinced in these opinions. As the chairman of the judiciary committee has said, "he was an honest man" - honest in the most comprehensive sense of the word - honest in his moral and intellectual nature - as faithful to integrity in all his dealings with mankind and in his official finding of facts, as he was to the logical and legitimate results of legal principles. Keenness in discrimination, comprehension of view, fidelity to induction, rigid sequence of thought, and analytical strength, were leading characteristics of his intellect.
"It can not be denied that our departed friend loved popularity; but it was the popularity of the Lord Mansfield order - "the popularity which follows, not that which is run after -the popularity which, sooner or later, never fails to do justice to the pursuit of noble ends by noble means."
"Of the general character of the late Chief Justice, of his keen insight into the hidden depths of human motives, of his Johnsonian power and sententiousness in exposing a sophism and refuting a fallacy, of his dry and sarcastic humor, of his familiarity with the English Classics, of his acute sensibilities, and of his social graces, I need not speak to those who have enjoyed his society in his rare intervals of relaxation. It was not, however, these superficial accomplishments, nor his native power, nor his logical grasp, nor his acquisitions, nor his professional training, that finally established upon such a solid basis his reputation as an accomplished judge, respected and beloved by all who practice in his court. We may place in that vacant and mournful chair below us a greater natural intellect, learning more profound, sharper and more finished professional discipline; and yet the throne of the Chief Justice will not be filled. Called to the bench comparatively early in life, it was his twenty-one years of training and education there that finally fitted out and equipped him for the mastery of his responsible post. Justice herself, with downcast eyes and a saddened brow, will long search, and search in vain, for a successor reared by herself in her own temple, for ministrations at his own altar."
The speaker alludes, in his closing remark, to a change recently made in our state constitution, by which the term of judicial office in the Supreme and Superior Courts was reduced to eight years. Before the change it expired only upon the attainment by the incumbent of the age of seventy. It is very note-worthy, in view of the course of the popular mind in calling for this change, or even in assenting to it, (if indeed the popular mind had much to do with it,) that the splendid judicial qualities which made Chief Justice Storrs an object of such unqualified and universal admiration, and a subject of so much pride, were in a great measure the fruit of his long experience on the bench, and would not have fully developed themselves in the short term of eight years, if indeed he would have accepted the office under such a limitation. An eminent judge of that court who was a long time associated with him on the bench, told me that in the early part of his judicial career he manifested but little of the great ability for which he afterwards became distinguished, and that it was only by adding to his natural powers of mind the training of a continued experience on the bench that he came to be so pre-eminently great as a judge. A lawyer can not have a nobler ambition than to become an eminent judge, and it is certainly well that judicial office should be accepted as a life work, in which all ulterior aspirations are to be relinquished and the only ambition shall be to attain the highest excellence in that honorable service.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports volume 15, page(s) Appendix, page 31
Born at Middletown, in the State, March 25th, 1795; educated at Yale-College, where he graduated in 1814; read law with his brother, Henry R. Storrs, at Whitestown, N. Y.; was admitted to the bar, in New-York, in 1817, and in Connecticut, soon afterwards; settled in the practice of law at Middletown. He was a representative from that town in the General Assembly, in the years 1827, 1828, 1829. He was a representative from this State in the Congress of the United States from March 4th, 1829, to March 4th, 1833. In 1834, he was a member of the house of representatives in the legislature of this State from the town of Middletown, and was chosen speaker. After this, he was again elected a representative in Congress, for two years from the 4th of March, 1839; and served in that capacity until June, 1840; when, having been appointed an associate judge of the superior court and of the supreme court of errors, he relinquished the former situation and accepted the latter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, page iii
Appointed May 1840, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Judge Huntington.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 25, page iii
Appointed Chief Justice by the General Assembly in May, 1856,-the appointment to take effect on the 9th day of February, 1857.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 30, page iii
Died June 25, 1861.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 15, appendix page 30
Born at Norwich, August 23rd, 1788; educated at Yale-College, where he graduated in 1806; was a Tutor in that institution from 1808 to 1810; read law with Judge Chauncey, at New-Haven; was admitted to the bar in New-Haven County, in 1810; settled in the practice of the law at Norwich; was elected a Senator in the State Legislature in 1840, and again in 1841. He is still in full practice.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 15, appendix page 34
Was a native of Woodbury, and graduated at Yale-College, in 1806; read law with Noah B. Benedict, Esq., and was admitted to the bar, in December, 1808. He opened an office at Woodbury, and continued the exercise of his profession until his death, in November, 1834. He was a member of the House of Representatives, in May, 1813, in 1825 and 1826. He was judge of probate in 1816, 1817 and 1834.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 38, pages 582 - 584
JULIUS LEVI STRONG passed from life on the morning of September 7th, 1872. So brief was his illness, that the announcement of his death came as a shock as well as a sorrow to nearly all of his friends and professional associates. But it needed not the almost tragic abruptness of his departure to create a deep and painful sensation in Hartford and through the State; for he was widely known, and greatly respected in all the relations of life, and at the time of his decease was the representative of the first Congressional district.
Mr. Strong was born in Bolton, Tolland county, November 8th, 1828, and was the fourth of a family of seven children. His youth was spent in the usual routine of a farmer's boy, in farm labor in summer, and attending school in winter, until he was seventeen years of age. He then resolved to acquire a liberal education, preparatory to a professional life. Contending against obstacles which would have daunted one less hopeful and resolute, he succeeded, without paternal assistance, in nearly completing his junior year in college, when he was forced by want to means to abandon a part of his cherished purpose; and he accordingly left Union College in the spring of 1852, and began the study of law in the law school at Ballston Spa. Before joining Union College he was for a year a student in Wesleyan University. Remaining at Ballston Spa a short time, he continued his law reading in the office of Martin Welles in Hartford, and was admitted to the bar in 1853, and immediately commenced practice as the law partner of Mr. Welles. After termination of his connection with Mr. Welles, James Nichols was associated with him in business, who was succeeded by John R. Buck. In 1852, he represented his native town in the General Assembly, and again in 1855. He was clerk of the State Senate in 1853. In 1864-5 he was city attorney and president of the Common Council of Hartford. He was elected to Congress in 1869 from the first district, and re-elected in 1871. He married Miss Martha A. Converse of Stafford, Conn., October 13th, 1857. His wife and daughter survive him.
Mr. Strong, though hardly yet in middle life, had reached a prominent position at the bar, and when he entered Congress in 1869 had a large and increasing practice, which often called him to the trial of causes in the neighboring counties of Tolland and Middlesex. Clients sought him, however, not so much for any deep learning or wide experience in his profession which in him they could secure in their interests, but they were attracted by his qualities as a man, and by his zeal, integrity and success as a lawyer. Neither his mental habits, nor his fondness for political subjects and public life, to which his profession was in measure subsidiary, permitted him to explore widely and critically the great field of the law. His mind was active, practical and fertile, rather than disciplined; and shunned therefore the patient investigation of principles, and the careful search for analogies and precedent. With no lack of natural power of analysis or discrimination, he nevertheless avoided those intricate legal questions which can be penetrated only by profound study, and traversed only under the guidance of an accurate and sensitive logic. Though he readily appreciated and grasped a legal proposition when interposed in his case, and discussed it with lucidity and force, yet he much preferred to flank such a barrier through some path opened by the facts, than to carry it by direct assault.
But though not a profound jurist, he was an able lawyer, and in dealing with the usual issues of mingled law and fact, he showed uncommon tact and ability. His thorough knowledge of human nature, quick detection of character, ready perceptions and sound judgment, an instinctive apprehension of all that was cogent or infirm in a case, a sincere aversion to every form of injustice, and an ardent and sympathetic nature, inspiring and propelling all his faculties in the line of effort, gave him especial natural advantages as an advocate. He exhibited an enviable skill in the marshaling and presentation of his own evidence; was close, searching and thorough in cross-examination; earnest, direct and forcible in argument, and impressive as a speaker, more from vigor of style, and evident sincerity of purpose, than from any peculiar graces of diction. In all the movements and fortunes of a forensic contest, he showed abundant resources and admirable strategy, and few equaled him in the rare faculty of appreciating and utilizing those moral elements which often stamp a case, and appeal resistlessly to the consciences and sympathies of the triers. He combined and wielded these with most effective art and energy. Indeed, in the discussion of every question, he sought to exhibit it in the light of simple justice, and thus to secure the moral convictions of the court or jury in his behalf. And he thereby often succeeded in carrying his case to a successful issue, over all technical obstacles not wholly insurmountable. Such a habit may have shown his sagacity as a lawyer; it certainly proved his honesty as a man.
In his intercourse with his professional brethren, as with all others, Mr. Strong was hearty, generous, frank and genial, without a taint of exclusiveness or of assumption.
Of his public services, which were his most congenial labors, only a brief notice is proper here. He was faithful and competent to every trust, and true to his own sense of duty, and exhibited, when the occasion demanded, a moral courage which could be neither seduced nor daunted. As a member of Congress, he won high esteem for the fidelity and ability with which he discharged all duties, and especially for his zealous and successful advocacy of the interests of his constituents. The integrity of his public and private character was stainless.
*Prepared by David S. Calhoun, Esq., of Hartford.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 44, pages 610 - 612
ISAAC MOREHOUSE STURGES was born at Wilton, on the 6th day of July, 1807; he died at his sister's residence in that town, on the 30th day of October, 1877.
Admitted to the bar of Fairfield County in January, 1837, he at once commenced practice in Newtown, removing from that place to Bridgeport in 1848, where he soon obtained a large clientage, and continued in the full discharge of his professional duties till the very last. He had been engaged in the trial of a cause the day before his death, and left it unfinished at the close of the day, intending to continue the trial on the morrow, but died very suddenly from an attack of heart disease before the morrow came.
His father, Erastus Sturges, a farmer living at Wilton, was a justice of the peace of the old school, fourteen times elected to the General Assembly, and a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1818; before him were tried many cases, and Betts, Bissell, and Sherwood in their management of justice trials, furnished the student with examples of legal ability and models for emulation--the only school of instruction open to him, for until his admission to the bar Mr. Sturges had never been present at a higher court.
Entering the profession somewhat late in life; with limited educational advantages --being mainly those, aside from attendance at district schools in the winter months, derived from three years instruction (1826-1829) at the Wilton Academy, then under the charge of Mr. Hawley Olmstead; with his opportunity for literary culture circumscribed; he neglected nothing, but treasured every thing of which he could avail himself, and brought to the chosen calling of his life a mind so matured and trained that he became not only an acknowledged leader of a bar where leadership carried with it deserved recognition of ability, but, outside of professional studies, he was one of the best read of our number, and kept himself abreast of all that was new in literature and science. He thought earnestly, talked well, and applied with discrimination the thoughts and opinions of others.
His chief characteristic was thoroughness. In the technics of the profession he had hardly a superior; he elaborated every detail, sometimes beyond apparent necessity, but he always had a precedent for every proposition suggested, and with abiding faith in his own premises, he considered it his duty to force a recognition from the court, by citing numerous authorities, of the conclusion which he deemed established. He took nothing for granted, in the court or in any thing else, but developed his argument with syllogistic precision,
"Ab ovo usque ad mala."
This minuteness of research characterized his professional life throughout; it was unsafe to disregard his law, for the motion in error was sure to follow, urged with dangerous persistency; it was unwise to be heedless of his facts, for each was claimed for a fixed and special purpose in the line of his argument; and as a result of such completeness few were employed in as many cases, none was more able as a practitioner, and so vigorous was he as an adversary that it was unsafe to meet him, with hope of success, having a single weak spot in armor, for his thrust was unerring with whatever weapon he went to battle, and he never asked nor gave quarter.
One eminent in our profession has called Judge Hosmer "a travelling index of the law." There was no safer digest for Fairfield County than Mr. Sturges, for his tenacious memory and diligent research enabled him to furnish information of some decision on almost every conceivable point--information which he was always ready to impart.
Somewhat of a recluse in his habits, being unmarried, and living quite by himself in bachelor quarters, till the last few years, when he made his home with a sister at Wilton, going to and from his office at Bridgeport daily, he acquired a taste for a solitary life, which at times made him appear unsocial; but his character when sought out and known was thoroughly cordial and kindly. He seemed to dread the first approach to companionship or intimacy, but after the friendship was formed he was loyal to it in word and deed. Possessed of a sensitiveness which at times almost mastered him, he seemed to desire to appear to the world as indifferent to criticism, censure or praise; he aimed to be strictly just, but the equipoise of the scales, which he prided himself in holding well balanced, was not rarely disturbed by a genial kindliness, which he never admitted he possessed. Without being lavish in expenditure or in the least degree ostentatious, he showed in many ways, quietly and without publicity, a generosity which sprang from a large hearted sympathy and thorough unselfishness.
His ambition centred in his profession. He was however elected a representative from Wilton in 1837, from Newtown in 1844, and again from Wilton in 1876. He was judge of probate for the district of Newtown in 1844, and judge of the City Court of Bridgeport in 1860 and 1861.
"The annals of lawyers, like the annals of the poor, are brief and simple. No memorial can keep their memories from oblivion, even in the next generation, except the brief record of their forensic contests to be found in the Connecticut Reports." So wrote Mr. Sturges shortly before his death. Surely in that record, which shows to a certain extent what the lawyer is, few have a more prominent place.
And thus another passes from the brotherhood of the profession--that brotherhood which amidst the contentions and emulation of forensic struggles, admits a generous chivalry in its antagonisms and ends contest with the adjournment of court; which respects rivalry, buries animosity, and recognizes in the leadership earned by professional prominence, the tribute due to patient effort in an honorable calling.
*Prepared by Hon. Calvin G. Child, of the Fairfield County bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 204, page 814
1901 - 1987
The Hon. John J. Sullivan, Jr., who served as a judge of the Circuit Court for eight years, died April 24, 1987, at the age of 86.
Judge Sullivan was born in New Haven on July 27, 1901. He graduated from the Georgetown University School of Law in 1924 and was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1925. He served as prosecuting attorney in the West Haven town court from 1933 to 1937 and was a judge of the West Haven Municipal Court from 1949 to 1951 and from 1955 to 1960.
Judge Sullivan became a judge of the Circuit Court on January 1, 1961, and retired from that court in 1968. He became a state referee of the Circuit Court in 1971.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports volume 143, pages 747 - 748
Death sometimes strikes with such suddenness that it leaves in its wake deep wounds in those who remain. Such was the situation on September 4, 1950, when Judge Phillip J. Sullivan of the Court of Common Pleas was stricken while on vacation.
Judge Sullivan, the son of Phillip J. and Elizabeth Furey Sullivan, was born on May 10, 1897, in Enfield, Connecticut, where he spent the greater part of his life. He attended the parochial and public schools of the town and was graduated from Enfield High School in 1914. While he was matriculated at the Catholic University Law School at Washington D.C., World War I broke out. He enlisted in the United States navy, serving until the end of the war. After graduation from the Law School in 1918, he carried on the business of his father, who was in ill health, and for several years acted as editor and publisher of "The Thompsonville Press." In 1923, he was admitted to the Connecticut bar, and in 1925, to the Massachusetts bar. He established an office in Enfield and practiced in Massachusetts and Connecticut until his appointment to the Court of Common Pleas on July 27, 1945. He was married to Margaret E. Gaffney of Springfield, Massachusetts, who survives.
Judge Sullivan's skill as a lawyer and his high sense of fidelity to his profession, together with a pleasing personality, made him an outstanding member of the bar. He was town counsel of Enfield for many years and was also prosecuting attorney and judge of the Enfield town court. In 1942, and again in 1944, he was elected representative to the General Assembly. During both sessions he served as a member of the judiciary committee, and in the 1945 session he was minority leader. In his community he was a member of many civic, fraternal and patriotic organizations.
Judge Sullivan had a ready wit and keen sense of humor which made him much sought after as a public speaker. He was of a kind and generous nature, deeply sympathetic to all persons, to all races and creeds. He was a seeker after truth and justice, and directed the full force of his energies to attaining those ends. His leisure time was spent in extensive reading in history and the classics. His decisions as judge of the Court of Common Pleas were the result of thorough deliberation, and he was most painstaking in the construction of his memoranda, striving at all times to employ language readily understood by the lay mind.
In the death of Judge Sullivan, the bench and bar of Connecticut lost an able, conscientious and diligent judge, who loved his work and performed his judicial duties in the most courteous and pleasant manner.
*Prepared by Francis J. Fahey, Charles E. Mahoney and Leo J. Dowling, of the Hartford County bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 243, page iii
Appointed to the Appellate Court December 12, 1997, to take effect December 31, 1997.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 250, page iii
Appointed to the Supreme Court August 24, 1999, to take effect September 15, 1999.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 255, page iii
Chief Justice effective January 22, 2001.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 75, pages 734 - 735
ELLIOTT BENJAMIN SUMNER, the oldest practicing lawyer in Windham county, died at his home in Willimantic, Connecticut, October 14th, 1900, in the 67th year of his age.
His father, Deacon William Sumner of Tolland, was of Puritan ancestry, and his mother, Anna Washburn, was a descendant of one of the early settlers of the Hartford Colony.
Elliott Benjamin, the youngest of nine children, was born in 1834, at Tolland, then the county seat of Tolland county and its most important town. His early education was obtained in its district schools, supplemented by a course of two years' study at Wesleyan Academy, Wilbraham, Mass. He then commenced the study of law in the office of the Hon. Loren P. Waldo of Tolland, then the foremost lawyer of the county and subsequently a judge of the Superior Court. In 1854, while studying law, he was elected and served as assistant clerk of the Connecticut House of Representatives. In 1857 he opened a law office in Willimantic, where he soon acquired a good practice which continued uninterruptedly until his final illness. In 1871 he represented the 24th senatorial district in the State Senate, but gave little attention to politics thereafter.
Mr. Sumner was ambitious in his profession, and indefatigable in the discharge of its duties. No client could ever complain of any neglect of his interests. Diligent in the preparation of his cases, he studied with great care and research not only the law upon which he relied in a legal contest, but also every legal principle he could conceive of, in support of his opponent's side of the case.
As an advocate he was neither eloquent nor brilliant: he made no attempt at oratory; his style was simple and unaffected, without embellishment of any kind, but in plain, well-chosen language he always addressed himself to the good sense, innate love of justice, and fair dealing of the trier.
As a counselor he was excellent. His thorough knowledge of law, his grasp of legal principles, and his love of judicial research, secured for his opinions the confidence of his clients, and made him an authority with his brethren of the bar.
In his intercourse with his professional brethren he was companionable, kind and obliging; always ready to assist, and particularly the younger members of the profession. He was especially strong in his personal likes and dislikes; never forgetting a friend and never seeking to placate those who manifested an unfriendly spirit toward him.
He was twice married, his first wife being Miss Sarah Farnham, by whom he had two children: Florence A., now Mrs. Thomas Southward, and a son, William A. Sumner. His second wife was Miss Mary Farnham, who with his two children survive him.
For more than twenty-five years he was united with the Baptist church of 'Willimantic, and remained a respected member thereof until his death.
*Prepared by Hon. Huber Clark, of the Windham county bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 59, pages 601 - 604
SAMUEL BARSTOW SUMNER, a prominent member of the Fairfield County Bar, died suddenly, at Bridgeport where he resided, on the 26th day of February, 1891. He was born in Great Barrington, Mass., in 1830, and was the son of Hon. Increase Sumner, who, for some time before his death in 1871, was the acknowledged leader of the bar in Western Massachusetts. He had been repeatedly a member of both houses of the legislature of that state, a member of its constitutional convention in 1853, district attorney for several years for the four western counties, and candidate of the democratic party for Congress and for the office of lieutenant-governor, and at the time of his death was judge of the district court in Berkshire County. He was a direct descendant of the colonial ancestor of that name, from who sprang the Sumner family in New England, including Gov. Increase Sumner, Senator Charles Sumner, Gen. Edwin V. Sumner, and others of less conspicuous but honorable position. The mother of the subject of our notice was Pluma Amelia Barstow, daughter of Dr. Samuel Barstow of Great Barrington.
Mr. Sumner spent his your and early manhood among the Berkshire hills. His preparatory studies for entering college were pursued in the Sedgwick Institute in his native town. On entering Williams College, where he graduated in 1849, he was received into fellowship as a member of the college society known as ZETA PSI, which has chapters throughout the United States. He was through life a devoted member of this society, and was frequently invited to deliver poems at its reunions. He was the poet of his class. While the prosecution of his college studies was [developing] his intellectual faculties, it is manifest that the beautiful scenery that surrounded him was not lost to his youthful imagination. In a poem read at a banquet of the Williams College alumni at Boston, he speaks of the time -
when the vernal gale,
With perfumed breath brought newer life to mountain and to vale,
And Pisgah answered Greylock's smile, across the gorgeous scene,
And each unto the other waived her bannerets of green.
After graduation Mr. Sumner entered his father's office as a student of law, and in 1852 was admitted to the bar of Berkshire County. He at once entered into partnership with his father, and continued in the practice of law until 1862, when he enlisted in the army under the call of the President for nine months' volunteers. He was elected captain of a company which he had aided in recruiting for the 49th regiment of Massachusetts volunteers. He was shortly after commissioned as lieutenant-colonel of the regiment and served as such until its final discharge from service. At a reunion of the survivors of the regiment in 1867 he read a poem giving an account of the movements and deeds of the regiment, which is full of wit and humor, with many touches of pathos, while, in describing a charge upon the works of th enemy at Port Hudson in which the regiment lost, in killed and wounded, one third of its men, and in which he himself was wounded and carried from the field, the poem becomes a stirring epic. This poem appeared in a volume of poems published by Col. Sumner and his brother, who was also a poet, and on receiving a copy of the volume Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote him a long and highly complimentary letter, in which he speaks particularly of his interest in this poem.
At the close of his term of service Col. Sumner removed to Bridgeport, Conn. He had some time before married Georgianna Davis, a native of that city, and while he was in the army she with her children had resided there. Here he opened an office and resumed the practice of his profession. Soon after he went into partnership with the late Sidney B. Beardsley, then a leading member of the Fairfield County bar and afterwards a judge of the Supreme Court of the state. Col. Sumner was a good lawyer, skillful in the conduct of his cases, and with a ready command of language. He was faithful to every trust and always true to his clients. He had an exalted opinion of the dignity of the legal profession and of the responsibility of its members. In one of his poems he says of the "thorough lawyer," that he "can but be the thorough man."
Col. Sumner in the course of his life held various offices of honor and trust. While practicing his profession in Great Barrington he was elected to the Massachusetts Senate; and during his residence in Bridgeport he was city attorney, city judge, judge of probate, and, previous to 1884, assistant clerk of the Superior Court. He filled all these offices with marked ability and fidelity. In 1884 he was appointed by the judges clerk of the Superior Court for Fairfield County, and was annually reappointed and held that position at the time of his death. The court never had a more competent clerk, while his uniform courtesy and kindliness made him very popular with the members of the bar.
But it is as a poet that Col. Sumner will be longest and best remembered. It has been a general opinion that in failing to devote himself to literary pursuits he made the mistake of his life. He early exhibited a taste for poetry and an aptitude for poetic composition. His friends were not long in discovering that he was a genuine poet and not a mere writer of verses. It is the poet's province to minister to the demand of the human soul for something more than this world affords - something better than the common events of life. No one who has carefully read his poems can have failed to observe that this ministering spirit pervades all his graver productions. These are all lofty in sentiment, and morally and religiously elevating in their tone and tendency. Even his lighter and gayer poems, though abounding in witticisms and happy touches, never descend below what is healthy, pure and refined. As a poet he was in great demand at public gatherings of various societies and organizations, and their committees of arrangement thought themselves fortunate if they succeeded in securing a poem to be read by him on such occasions. He had always something appropriate and worthy of being heard. He was not only a poet, but a poet-orator. Nobody could deliver his particular poem to a particular audience with such a touch on the pulse of that audience as Col. Sumner himself had. This, and his winning ways, made him a universal favorite at social gatherings. It may be truthfully said that no other poet has delivered so many of what might be termed occasional poems as he. Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1877 wrote him as follows: "I thought I had written more occasional poems that most anybody else, but you have put me quite to the blush." Col. Sumner received a number of complimentary letters from him, and one from Tennyson in 1875.
Early in life Col. Sumner joined the order of "Free and Accepted Masons." His warm heart, strong social nature, sparkling wit and ready speech, made him a special favorite in that order, and he attained a leading position in it. He was often called upon to read poems before its gatherings and was always greeted with great enthusiasm.
Col. Sumner's domestic attachments were very strong. The volume of poems before mentioned, published by himself and his brother, is dedicated to the memory of their mother, "from whose cultured lips we learned our first and best lessons." The last poem of the volume, written by him, is a warm tribute to his father. Another of great beauty and full of pathos mourns the death of a sister. His attachment to a brother residing in California was so great that it is said that scarcely a week, and many times scarcely a day, passed without his sending him some token or message of remembrance; and he has told, in one of his finest poems, of his terrible anguish over the death of his brother Albert, who perished by shipwreck in 1873 off the coast of Nova Scotia. This brother had been abroad perfecting himself in music, and was returning, full of enthusiasm, to fill an engagement which had been made for him, as organist of St. John's Church, in Bridgeport. A few years later, and not long before his own death, his wife, to whom he was most tenderly attached, died very suddenly. He never after this recovered his former elasticity of spirits, and seemed to desire to live only for his children.
At the time of his death Col. Sumner was, and for many years had been, a communicant in St. John's Episcopal Church of Bridgeport and one of its vestrymen. He was a regular attendant upon its services and was deeply interested in both its temporal and spiritual welfare. In his graver poems his unfaltering faith is held up before us in no doubtful language, and they present him to us as constantly earnest in moral purpose. Among them are found the following lines, which, though perhaps not equal in merit to much that he wrote, show the absence from his nature of all spirit of ostentation, and his desire to be remembered for some good accomplished, and by those who loved him rather than by the world at large. They are of special interest now that his earthly life is ended.
When I must answer to the final call,
I'd have no costly pile above my head;
But I would be remembered, if at all,
For something nobly done or fitly said.
But, should I join the multitudinous dead,
Who leave no foot-prints on time's treacherous sands,
Enough for me to have my children shed
Sometimes a tear beside the spot where stands
The simple stone placed o'er my dust by friendly hands.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by James H. Olmstead, Esq., of the Fairfield County Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 152, pages 760 - 761
Richard S. Swain died suddenly at his home in Bridgeport on June 5, 1965, one month short of his seventy-eighth birthday. He was a judge of the Court of Common Please from May 13, 1939, until April 16, 1957, when he was elevated to the Superior Court. His service on the higher court was terminated July 6, 1957, when he reached the age of seventy. When the appointment was made it was recognized that it would be of short duration, but it was applauded throughout the state not only as a recognition of merit but as a sign of the affetionate regard in which Judge Swain was held by the legal profession.
Judge Swain was born on July 6, 1887, in Arcanum, Ohio, where his father, the Reverand Richard LaRue Swain, was serving as minister of the Congregational Church. His mother was Anna Elizabeth (Shuey) Swain. While he was still an infant, the family moved to Laconia, New Hampshire, where he was graduated from the public schools before enrolling as a student at Syracuse University, which he attended for three years. In 1910 he followed his family to Bridgeport, where his father became pastor of the South Congregational Church, and he transferred from Syracuse to the Yale Law School, from which he was graduated in 1913.
His early years in New Hampshire during the period of his childhood and adolescence made a deep and lasting impression upon his mind and character. Throughout his life he manifested the strong, rigid principles of honor, integrity and common sense associated with the natives of that area.
In 1913 he commenced the practice of law in Bridgeport and in 1914 formed a partnership with E. Earle Garlick, who later became a judge of the Court of Common Please, for Fairfield County. This partnership came to an end in 1917, when, upon the entrance of the United States into World War I, he enlisted in the first division of the army and saw much action at the front in the Argonne sector. He was discharged as a corporal in 1919. Upon his return to Bridgeport he became associated in the practice of law with the late Alexander L. Delaney and so continued until 1925, when he became a partner in the firm of Boardman and Grout, where he remained until his appointment to the Court of Common Pleas in 1939, in which court he had served as prosecuting attorney since 1927. From 1917 to 1921 he was assistant clerk of the City Court of Bridgeport and clerk from 1921 to 1923. It will be observed that the major portion of his professional activities were connected with the courtroom. He relished the excitement of a trial, and he enjoyed the combat into which he entered with great vigor but wholly without rancor. He could be strongly aggressive without becoming bitter or belligerent. The result was that he was very persuasive. He carried the same traits onto the bench. He was always firmly in control of his courtroom, always the master but never the tyrant or the bully.
He will long be remembered not so much for his deeds or his accomplishments, although they are not to be minimized, but mostly for what he was - a man of impeccable character and irresistible charm. People of all kinds admired him and respected him, but, above all, they liked him and very, very much. The reason for that probably lay in the fact that he liked people, and, in liking him, they were only returning to him what he gave to them. He had countless friends. They were not only his professional associates but included all who came within his sphere, rich and poor, high and low, even good and bad. If he had enemies they kept very quiet.
There remain for mention only a few personal details. He loved the coast of Maine and those who lived there. When he was very young his father acquired some land near the mouth of the Damariscotta River in South Bristol not farm from Christmas Cove. From then on it became his ambition to spend as much of each summer there as he could. He loved the people as well as the air, the pines, the water, the clams and the lobsters.
He loved animals. During his life he had many pets of many kinds but in the last few years he was restricted to dogs. To those of us who knew him well, it is not a matter of regret but of satisfaction that when the arrow of death finally found his heart and stilled it, he was alone in his home with a beautiful black poodle named Houdini.
Finally, his wife. Her name was Frances S. Williams. She was a lovely, charming girl, but her health failed at a relatively early age, and Judge Swain was faced with a test which breaks most men. But it did not break him. He met it, patiently, without complaint, without a whine. Except for his hours at work, he devoted his life to her care and companionship. And finally, his fondest wish was granted. She did not have to face a strange and lonely world without him for she died on November 9, 1964. They had no children.
*Prepared by Hon. John M. Comley, of Stamford.
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