As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 87, pages 712 - 713
DAVID SAMUEL CALHOUN was born at Coventry, Connecticut, September 11th, 1827. His father was Rev. George A. Calhoun, D. D. He was of Scotch-Irish descent, and was a vice-president of the Scotch-Irish Society of America. The family are descended from the Scotch clan of Colquhouns who lived on the southwestern shores of Loch Lomond. David fitted for college under the tuition of Rev. William Ely of Coventry, and at Ellington Academy and Williston Seminary, Massachusetts. He entered Yale College in 1844, and was graduate in 1848, taking an oration. Among his classmates were Nathaniel Shipman, Theodore Winthrop, Arthur D. Osborne, and Dwight Foster, late member of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. After graduation, he taught school at Ravenna, Ohio, and later in South Coventry, Connecticut. In 1850 he entered the law office of Hon. Origen S. Seymour, and was admitted to the bar at Litchfield in 1851. In 1869 he formed a law partnership with the late Mahlon West, under the name of West and Calhoun. He was probate judge in Manchester, Connecticut, for twelve years, and State senator in 1856 and 1862. In 1856 he was chairman of the committee on education which revised the school laws of the State, and in 1862 was chairman of the military committee, and ex officio member of the corporation of Yale College. In 1877 he was chosen judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Hartford County and held the office for twenty years until disqualified by age. He heard and decided about two thousand cases. He was a member of the Pearl Street Congregational Society in Hartford, of the Connecticut Historical Society, and Sons of the American Revolution. He was twice married, first to Miss Harriet A. Gilbert of Coventry, who died in 1868, and second to Miss Eliza J. Scott of Manchester. Of eight children, three are living, including Hon. J. Gilbert Calhoun, former prosecuting attorney in the city of Hartford.
Judge Calhoun’s long and distinguished career upon the bench has to a large extent obscured his remarkable gifts as an advocate. Few remember him as an active trier. He had great skill in the conduct of a cause, and especially wonderful power to captivate the jury, and win them away from his adversary. As a judge, he manifested a clear and powerful intellect. He had intuitive judgment, could see truth at once. Disguises did not deceive him. He was rarely overruled, because his decisions upon questions of fact often absolutely decided the case. Both as brilliant advocate and successful jurist, he has brought great credit to the bar, and high honor to the State. He died November 7th, 1912.
*Prepared by Lewis E. Stanton, Esq., of the Hartford County Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 239, pages 961 - 964
REMARKS OF CHIEF JUSTICE ELLEN A PETERS ON THE OCCASION OF THE SWEARING-IN OF JUSTICE ROBERT J. CALLAHAN AS THE THIRTY-FOURTH CHIEF JUSTICE
AUGUST 29, 1996
Justices and judges, state and federal, family and friends: It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you here this morning to this beautiful courtroom to witness the installation of Robert J. Callahan as the new chief justice to preside over the Connecticut Supreme Court and to lead the judicial branch of the state of Connecticut. Our new chief justice will be the thirty-fourth person to hold this high office since the adoption of the state constitution of 1818.
It is altogether fitting that a new chief justice take his oath of office here, in this courtroom. This ceremony will take place under the watchful eyes of many of his predecessors, the relatively recent twentieth century chief justices whose portraits you see all around you. It will also take place under the pictorial representation of the signing of the Fundamental Orders that, more than three hundred fifty years ago, in 1638, marked the beginning of constitutional government in this state.
We are honored that Governor John G. Rowland will conduct this swearing-in ceremony. John G. Rowland, after a distinguished career in the Connecticut legislature and the United States House of Representatives, became our governor in 1995. Throughout his gubernatorial term of office, he has consistently manifested his strong support for the judicial branch. That support has taken many forms. none more important than his presence here today.
REMARKS OF CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERT J. CALLAHAN
Governor Rowland, Chief Justice Peters, Governor O'Neill, justices of the Supreme Court, federal and state judges, state legislators, family and friends. Thank you for being here. I particularly want to thank those of you who made the long trip from Norwalk. It's not often that Norwalkers have the chance to witness the swearing-in of a chief justice from the Clam Town. The last time, as a matter of fact, was in 1870, when Thomas Belden Butler - who I did not know personally - became chief justice.
The seventeenth century clergyman and poet, John Donne, once wrote: "No man is an island." That familiar line is certainly true in my case. There are many people who have made this day possible for me and to whom I am indebted.
A special thanks of course goes to Governor Rowland for nominating me to be chief justice. I also owe a debt of gratitude to former Norwalk Mayor Frank N. Zullo, former Congressman Donald J. Irwin and the late Nick Bredice who, in 1969, brought my desire to be a judge to the attention of the appointing authorities. Contrary to the rumor that I have spread over the years, my initial nomination to the bench was not the result of divine intervention and the successful completion of a judicial merit examination.
I thank the late Governor John Dempsey who first nominated me to the trial bench in 1970 as a judge of the Circuit Court and changed forever the course that my professional life would take. I am grateful also to the late Governor Ella T. Grasso who nominated me to the Superior Court in 1976, and to Governor William A. O'Neill who nominated me to the Supreme Court in 1985. Because of the faith they have shown in me, I have been privileged to serve on the beach for over twenty-six years. During that time, I have had the opportunity to work with many of the diverse and dedicated men and women who comprise the Connecticut Judiciary. I thank them all for unselfishly sharing with me their wisdom, their experience, and their total commitment to justice for all of Connecticut's citizens.
I acknowledge particularly my colleagues past and present on the Supreme Court who taught me to respect the opinions of others even though I might disagree. Although the court's opinions of late sometimes seem to have been formed in a cauldron rather than a melting pot, I assure you we are unanimous in our search for justice and we are stronger and more representative for the different viewpoints expressed.
In addition to the fellowship that I have enjoyed with my colleagues on the bench, I consider myself blessed to have served my entire time on the Supreme Court under the exemplary leadership of Chief Justice Ellen Peters. Fortunately for me and maybe not so fortunately for her, Ellen's new office is only a left hand turn and a short walk down the hallway from mine. This will give me easy access to presume our friendship and ask a few questions such as, "Now that I'm sworn in, what's next?"
There have been many others too numerous to thank individually who have played a part in my career over the years and who have provided the friendship, encouragement and support that brought me here today.
I would, however, ask your indulgence while I introduce the members of my immediate family, who were oftentimes neglected when Dad was preoccupied with an important case, composing a jury charge or writing a opinion. My daughter Sheila and her husband Steve Matthews and grandson Kevin. Steve and Sheila have two other children who are too young and too slippery to bring to today's ceremony. My son Kerry and his wife Maura and grandchildren Colin and Bridgett. Daughter Denise grandson Aedan. My daughter Janine and her husband Tim LeBlanc. Janine and Tim have two children, Sean and Danny, who are in the same slippery category as Sheila's two youngest. My son Patrick. My daughter Jane and her fiance Craig Tiedemann. My daughter Megan, Jane's twin. My son Robert, Jr., and last but not least, my wife Dorothy, my keeper for the last thirty-eight years, without whom I would probably still be home looking for my shirt. Thank you.
With the swearing in of a new chief justice, it is only natural to wish to look ahead to see what the future might hold for Connecticut's courts.
Nevertheless, because I would like to keep my remarks brief, my thoughts for the future of the state's judicial branch must necessarily await another, more appropriate time. I would remiss, however, if I did not take note of the fact that our courts now contend with greater challenges than ever before, in terms of both the volume of cases filed and the complexity of cases heard. As a former Superior Court judge, I know firsthand the difficult problems faced daily by other trial judges, who, along with the clerks' offices, are the front line troops of the justice system. It is imperative that we work diligently to identify and resolve quickly the difficult problems facing our trial courts, not the least of which is the increasing volume of complex litigation and the backlog of 20,000 civil cases now awaiting trial.
All of the state's citizens are the beneficiaries of a strong independent judiciary. If the system is underfunded and understaffed for too long a period of time, then the average citizen's access to the courts is seriously compromised. Having sufficient resources for the just, swift and effective resolution of cases is the best way to ensure the continued provision of equal justice under the law.
That said, I look forward to working closely with the legislative and executive branches to accomplish our mutual goals. Governor Rowland, I appreciate the confidence that you and the General Assembly have placed in me. I do not take your trust lightly, and will do my utmost to live up to your expectations.
In closing, I would quote Hartford's own Mark Twain, who in 1901 said, "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest." I assure you that as chief justice I will try my best always to do right.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 249, pages 933 - 939
REMARKS BY JUSTICE DAVID M. BORDEN ON THE OCCASION OF THE FINAL DAY THAT CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERT J. CALLAHAN PRESIDED AS CHIEF JUSTICE
JUNE 3, 1999
Welcome to all of you. Before the court hears this morning's cases, we have some other important business to transact.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, today is the last day that this beautiful and historic courtroom will be graced by having Chief Justice Robert J. Callahan preside over oral argument. The honor of marking this bittersweet occasion falls to me as the senior Associate Justice on this court - speaking on behalf of all of the Chief Justice's colleagues, both on the court and throughout the Judicial Branch.
A special welcome goes to the members of Bob's family who are here this morning - Bob's wife, Dorothy; his brother, William J. Callahan; three of his daughters - Sheila Matthews, Jeanine LeBlanc and Jane Callahan; and his son, Kerry. Sheila, Jeanine, Jane and Kerry are here representing Bob and Dorothy's eight children and ten grandchildren. I suspect that Bob told the rest to stay home, only so that there would be enough seats for the rest of you. In addition, Elizabeth McMahon, the Chief Justice's eighth grade teacher at Center Junior High School, in Norwalk, is here to help celebrate this occasion. Miss McMahon, we're delighted to have you here with us to honor your former student. I trust that you knew all along what a great success he would be.
I know with assurance - because he told me - that Chief Justice Callahan would have preferred not to have had this ceremony. He wanted just to slip away quietly and he actually thought he could get away with it. But not only the long tradition of the court, but our deep and sincere desire to stamp on the public record our regard for hint as a scholar, as a leader and as a treasured colleague, required that his preference be overruled. And so we are here this morning, to honor him and his accomplishments with our deepest admiration and respect.
Chief Justice Callahan came up through the judicial ranks. He served with distinction on the Circuit Court, the Court of Common Pleas and the Superior Court. He truly loved the trial bench, and has often spoken of his exploits there with a sense of affection.
Perhaps his most famous case as a trial judge was the well-publicized "Brookfield demon" case, in which the defendant, who had stabbed the victim to death, claimed that he was not guilty because he had been in fact possessed by a demon, whom he had personally summoned from the body of his girlfriend's young brother. However, trial judge Callahan ruled that defense, namely, "the demon made me do it," out of the case as a matter of law, much to the chagrin of both the defendant and his demon, and the defendant was convicted. The case did garner national media attention, however - and this was before the days of "Hard Copy" and "Gerry Springer" - and there was even a television movie of the trial. And to this day, I think that Bob harbors some disappointment that the producers didn't choose Robert Redford to play the trial judge.
On June 22, 1985, just short of fourteen years ago, Superior Court judge Robert J. Callahan was appointed by Governor O'Neill to this court. To date, and still counting, there are 343 majority opinions, 40 dissenting opinions, and 11 concurring opinions that bear his name. It would be virtually impossible to summarize the body of his jurisprudence as a Justice of this court, but there are three of those opinions of which he is especially proud, and rightly so.
In State v. Golding, then Associate Justice Callahan formulated the standard to govern appellate treatment of a constitutional claim raised on appeal that was not properly preserved at trial. That standard has truly passed the test of time. A recent computer search of the opinions of the Supreme and Appellate Courts revealed 485 citations to the Golding standard, surely making it one of the Court's most frequently cited opinions.
In Jaworski v. Kiernan, Chief Justice Callahan articulated the standard of care that players in recreational sporting events owe to one another. Those of his friends and colleagues who are aware of Bob's memorable, albeit brief, sojourn as a Chicago Bear, under the legendary professional football coach, George Hallas, know that the Chief Justice brought a special sensitivity to the question of when an athlete in a sporting event involving physical contact can be liable to one of his adversaries.
More recently, Chief Justice Callahan's opinion in Packer v. Board of Education set a constitutional landmark. The plaintiff there, a high school student, was expelled from school for possessing marijuana in the trunk of his car - off school grounds and after school hours. The issue was whether the statute, which authorized expulsions for conduct off school grounds that was "seriously disruptive of the educational process," provided the plaintiff with constitutionally adequate notice that his possession of marijuana under those circumstances, would subject him to expulsion from school. In a thorough and tightly reasoned opinion for the court, Chief Justice Callahan concluded that, although the statute was not unconstitutionally vague on its face, it could not be applied constitutionally to the plaintiff.
In the atmosphere in which we labor and by virtue of our work product - our opinions - the public focus is often on the scholarly and public policy aspects of our work. And Justice Callahan has contributed enormously to our Connecticut legal landscape. Intellectually honest, he does not avoid the outcome dictated by unquestioned precedent; he does not compromise the integrity of the law by an unprincipled quest for a desired result; he does not manipulate the means to reach an end. For him, the process by which the decision is reached is as important as the result in the case.
But the career of Robert J. Callahan, whom we honor and admire today, goes significantly beyond his body of opinions. On September 1, 1996, Associate Justice Robert J. Callahan was sworn in as Chief Justice by Governor Rowland, who appointed him to that position. Thus, he has now capped twenty-nine judicial years by serving for the past three years as our Chief Justice.
As we all know, the job of Chief Justice also carries with it the weighty responsibility of leading the Judicial Branch of our state government. In the best of times, and in the worst of times, the buck stops there. In these past three years, Chief Justice Callahan has worked tirelessly and effectively to prepare our branch for the new millennium.
Promoting public confidence and trust in the judicial system, and in the integrity of the legal system as a whole, has been the number one priority for Chief Justice Callahan during his years in office. With enormous planning and effort, several major innovations have come to fruition on his watch.
In February, 1998, the Chief Justice established the Commission on Public Trust and Confidence. That Commission, chaired by the Chief Court Administrator, is charged with evaluating and examining the factors that contribute to the public's confidence in Connecticut's judicial system, and with recommending long-term initiatives to build that trust. As part of this effort to inform the public of our services more effectively, and to demystify the judicial process, the Judicial Community Outreach program has been inaugurated. Coordination of tours of our facilities, establishment of a speakers bureau, and Open House celebrations, have been instituted as ways of increasing our responsiveness to the needs of the community. Demonstrating his total commitment to this effort, Chief Justice Callahan serves as a member of Connecticut's five person leadership team that met recently with other teams from around the country, at the National Conference of Public Trust and Confidence in the Judicial System, in order to formulate a national strategy to enhance public trust in the judiciary.
On a second front, in recognition that dishonest conduct on the part of attorneys results in extensive harm, not only to the client whose money the lawyer took, but to the legal profession as a whole, Chief Justice Callahan encouraged the creation in 1998 of the Client Security Fund, in order to provide reimbursement for losses arising from dishonesty in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Under his aegis, the judges of the Superior Court established the fund as a trust, funded by annual fees assessed upon each attorney admitted to practice in the state and upon each judicial officer in the state. All who have been admitted to practice must participate. The Client Security Fund Committee, appointed by the Chief Justice, is charged with receiving, investigating, and evaluating clients' claims, determining possible reimbursement, and pursuing transgressing attorneys for restitution. This initiative embodies the concept of accountability to which Chief Justice Callahan has long been dedicated.
During his tenure as leader of the Judicial Branch, Chief Justice Callahan has also recognized that public confidence in the judicial system must be matched by and built upon a strong internal foundation. He knows that adequate court facilities that house the judges and support staff, and welcome litigants and the public in a professional atmosphere, are essential to a responsive and effective judicial system. To those ends, in the past three years new courthouses in Waterbury and New Britain have been opened. Moreover, each of our new courts has been designed with the latest in technology and security in mind - built for the future as well as the present.
Additionally, in 1998, based on an innovative concept, the Hartford Community Court was established. A collaborative effort of the state and the City of Hartford, the court targets quality of life violations, and metes out appropriate sanctions, usually in the form of community service. In this way, the Chief Justice's goal of giving back to the community for an offense committed there can be fulfilled.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the position of Chief Justice - more difficult, I suspect, than leading the entire Judicial Branch - is leading this court as an institution. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once described the United States Supreme Court as nine scorpions in a bottle. Well, I don't think that metaphor quite captures us - for one thing, there aren't nine of us - but it does capture the difficulty of leading headstrong and wilful colleagues who usually think that they are right. Chief Justice Callahan has led us these past three years by his unending patience, his boundless consideration of others, and his unfailing good humor. He has led by the most telling and effective marker of leadership - by example.
Bob - in some of your public remarks, you are fond of telling a story about yourself that I'd like to advert to this morning. You tell how your father, a plumbing contractor, really wanted you to become a plumber, and that he was a little disappointed that you became a lawyer instead. Then, you would pause - and, in your characteristically self-deprecating manner, you would add that there are several lawyers who also think that you should have become a plumber.
Well, all of us here today - and everyone in the legal profession in this state - are glad that you didn't become a plumber. I'm sure that you would have been a good one. But I'm even more sure that you have been a superb judge, a superb Justice, and a superb Chief Justice. On behalf of your colleagues on this court and throughout the Judicial Branch, I congratulate you on what is truly an extraordinary career. And we recognize how fortunate we are, to continue to have the benefit of your wisdom, your talents, your common sense, and your uncommon decency, on this court for the year to come, and in the Branch for the years to come.
One final note. Sixty-nine years ago today, Robert J. Callahan was born. Mr. Chief Justice, we wish you a Happy and Healthy Birthday, and many more to follow.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 196, page iii
Appointed to the Supreme Court February 6, 1985, to take effect June 22, 1985.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 239, page iii
Appointed Chief Justice September 1, 1996.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 250, page iii
Senior Associate Justice effective September 15, 1999.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 130, pages 729 - 730
Andrew Storrs Campbell, a member of the bar of this state, was born on February 8, 1875, at East Windsor, Connecticut, the son of George W. and Sarah J. (Bissell) Campbell. He was born and bred in a typical New England atmosphere and was justly proud of his colonial ancestry and their services to Connecticut. He attended Enfield High School, and was graduated from Yale University in 1898 and from the Yale Law School in 1901. He was admitted to the Connecticut state bar in June, 1900.
For over forty years he practiced law in Hartford. He was a member of the firm of Campbell, Brewer & Foss and afterward the firm of Campbell & Brewer. In 1933 he became associated with Judge William A. Arnold and in April, 1939, he formed the law firm of Campbell, Sherman, and Respess, of which he was a member until his death on August 6, 1942.
In his professional work, Mr. Campbell was as deeply concerned over the principle involved as he was over the amount involved. He demonstrated this in the well-known second Loomis Institute case wherein our Supreme Court held that the trustees of a charitable corporation are at all times subject to the control of courts of equitable jurisdiction and upon proper application may be compelled to obey the terms of its charter.
From 1930 until his death he served continuously as a member of the state bar examining committee. He was interested in young men who were preparing for the bar and kept in touch with them after their admission. He was also chairman of the Hartford county bar committee on the unauthorized practice of law. He devoted himself wholeheartedly to the work of these two committees, giving unsparingly of his time and energy in an effort to raise the standards of the bar.
After his admission to the bar, Mr. Campbell resided in Hartford for about fifteen years and was a councilman in the Court of Common Council for three years, part of the time serving as vice president of the Council. From 1912 to 1914 he was a member of the board of alderman and the charter revision commission of Hartford. In 1916 he moved to Enfield, where he resided until his death. He became a member of the town plan commission of Enfield,, and was elected in 1920 one of the representatives of Enfield to the General Assembly. While there he served on the important judiciary committee and the committee on contested elections. His attitude toward public offices is expressed by his own words:
"It seems to me that the big job for college men is not primarily seeking public office, but keeping before the public mind sound principles of action in state and national matters, and to be ready at any time to go down to defeat in advocacy of them. The danger of the hour is the prostitution of principles for personal advancement."
His activities and his interests extended to the church, both in Hartford and in Enfield, and he served both of his churches for many years in various capacities.
In 1902 he married Miss Mabel Rowe of New Haven, who survives. He also leaves two daughters, Mrs. Gerald B. Thayer of Baldwin, Long Island, N.Y., and Miss Janet R. Campbell of Enfield, and two sons, Gordon R. Campbell, now in the United States Navy, and Allan B. Campbell of Enfield.
Mr. Campbell was a conscientious and respected attorney, a public-spirited citizen and an earnest churchman.
*Prepared by John H. Buck, of the Hartford bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 106, pages 743 - 745
CHARLES STUART CANFIELD, son of Charles Edward and Caroline L. Canfield, was born in Bridgeport on November 29th, 1853. He spent his entire life in his native city and died at his home there on May 5th, 1927.
As a boy he attended the Bridgeport public schools. He then studied law in the office of William K. Seeley, a leader of the Fairfield County bar, where he received a training in thoroughness that stood him in good stead through his long professional life. Mr. Canfield was admitted to the bar in 1875 and remained in active practice until the time of his death. After being admitted, he continued in practice in association with Mr. Seeley for about twelve years. In 1890 he formed a partnership with the late Stiles Judson under the firm name of Canfield and Judson. Mr. Judson was a brilliant figure in the court room, in the General Assembly and on the public platform of our State. Mr. Canfield assumed the quieter but no less important role of carrying the office burden of the partnership, which, for many years, was recognized as one of the leading law firms of the State. In 1907 John S. Pullman joined the firm, which then became known as Canfield, Judson and Pullman, and was dissolved some six years later on account of the illness and death of Mr. Judson. Fifty-two years is a long period for a man to practice law in one community, and how great were the changes in size and in character of the community during that span of time!
Soon after his admission to the bar, he and some kindred spirits formed the Bridgeport Bar Association, which for nearly fifty years has continued an active existence with an annual meeting. This has tended to keep the Bridgeport lawyers close together in a fine spirit of fellowship. In all of this Mr. Canfield was perhaps the most influential factor.
He was a member of the Grievance Committee of the Fairfield County bar, together with the late Justice John E. Keeler and General Russell Frost. He was sympathetic with his brother lawyers who were summoned before the Grievance Committee, but he held the ethics of his profession so high that he never allowed his sympathy to run away with his judgment. The judges of the Superior Court further showed their trust in him by appointing him frequently a committee to hear civil cases.
He was always keenly interested in politics and was a strong party man, a Democrat of the old school. His party loyalty, however, was exceeded by his loyalty to principle and in 1896, when the Democratic party of Bridgeport, in spite of his earnest efforts, declared for Bryan and free silver, he reluctantly withdrew and helped form the Gold Democratic Party.
He was a member of the Park Board of Bridgeport for twenty-two years and at the time of his death was a member of the Financial Advisory Commission of that city. He was for a long time a trustee of the Mountain Grove Cemetery Association and of the People’s Savings Bank and when he died he was Vice-President of the Bridgeport-People’s Savings Bank.
To quote from the memorial adopted by the bar of Fairfield County and spread on the records of the Superior Court: “He greatly honored the profession of the law; to him it was the noblest of human pursuits. Its traditions were treasured, its ideals revered and its associations and membership loved by him. All that was of interest to the profession was very near his heart. . . . He was a convincing and at times a powerful speaker in his occasional appearances in the court room, but he did not enjoy advocacy and shunned trial work as much as was possible. . . . His earlier practice brought him in contact with the searching of titles and probate law, and he became an expert in these fields of the law. The experience of years ripened his judgment; the varied activities of his life familiarized him with a knowledge of how both public and private business was done. He became a safe and most competent adviser. He knew when to give, and when to stand his ground. He practiced integrity in his professional and personal relations, and he expected and insisted that those whom he advised should do the same. His clients trusted him and became his lasting friends. Their troubles he shouldered, with their misfortunes he sympathized, and their just due he sought with unflinching courage and steady insistence. He was a peacemaker; he avoided litigation where this was possible. The good such a lawyer does in a community cannot be measured. To the very end he served his clients and he served the law.”
Mr. Canfield married Miss Alice Wooster in May, 1878. Two children were born to them, Wooster Canfield, of Waterbury, and Mrs. J. B. Wallace, Jr., of Hamden. Mr. Canfield married in 1908 as his second wife, Mrs. Margaret D. Mooney, who, with his two children, survives him.
*Prepared by John S. Pullman, Esq., of the Bridgeport bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 15, appendix page 35
Was born at New-Milford, in this state, on the 23d of January, 1759; was educated at Yale-College, where he graduated in 1782; was admitted to the bar, in 17- ; was married in 1786, and settled in Sharon, in the practice of his profession. He represented that town in the popular branch of the legislature, at almost every session, from 1802 to 1809, when he was elected, by the freemen of the state, a member of the Upper House, of which he continued a member until his removal from the state, in the year 1815. For many years previous to this event, he was also an associate judge of the county court for the county of Litchfield.
Being a proprietor in the purchase made of the state of Connecticut, of that portion of Ohio known as The Western Reserve, he, in 1798, visited that country, then a wilderness, in company with forty-one settlers, when there was only an Indian path from Pittsburgh to the township purchased by him, which was subsequently named Canfield.
As an interesting incident in the life of Mr. Canfield, Chancellor Kent relates, that in 1779, he and Mr. C., than members of Yale-College, on the 5th of July of that year, on the approach of the British forces to the city of New-Haven, fled together from the city, with their baggage on their shoulders, and deposited it near West-Rock, until the departure of the enemy.
In the various official situations, in which Judge Canfield was placed, he possessed the respect and confidence of his associates and of the public. In his private relations, he was distinguished for kindness and benevolence. He died in the City of New-York, in the family of a beloved daughter, on the 5th of February, 1840, aged eighty-one.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 69, pages 731 - 736
ELISHA CARPENTER, during a great part of his mature life a judge of the Supreme Court of the state, was born in that part of the old town of Ashford now known as Eastford, on the 14th day of January, 1824, and died at Hartford, where he had for several years resided, on the 22d of March, 1897. His father was a farmer in moderate circumstances, but was much respected in the community, and entrusted with its most important public offices. Judge Carpenter was his fourth son. He was brought up on his father's farm and divided his time between labor upon it and study. The latter he pursued in the public schools and at the Ellington Academy, at the latter fitting himself for, and intending to obtain, a college education. At the age of seventeen he engaged in school teaching and continued to teach school at intervals for seven years. Circumstances combining to defeat his plan of going to college, he entered in 1844 upon the study of law, in the office of Jonathan A. Welch of Brooklyn, Conn., and in December, 1846, was admitted to the bar of Windham County. He began practice in his native place, but in March, 1851, removed to Danielsonville (now Danielson) in the same county. In that year he was appointed state's attorney for Windham County, and held the office for one year, and by a later appointment from 1854 until 1861. In 1857 and 1858 he represented the fourteenth district in the State Senate. At the opening of the civil war in 1861 he was a member of the House of Representatives, and as chairman of the committee on military affairs rendered valuable service to the Union cause. By that legislature he was elected a judge of the Superior Court, to succeed Judge Butler who was promoted to the Supreme Court. In 1865 he was elected to the Supreme Court, to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Dutton, taking his seat in February, 1866. Soon after his appointment as judge of the Superior Court he removed to Wethersfield in this state, where he resided a few years, but finally removed to the city of Hartford, where he had lived for over twenty years at the time of his death.
Judge Carpenter was re-elected to the Supreme Court judgeship for three successive terms of eight years each, including the fraction of a term preceding his retirement under the constitutional limitation as to age, and lacked but one month of twenty-eight years of continuous service upon that court, making over thirty-two years of ,judicial life. For twenty-three years previous to 1889 he was the youngest man on the court. He was an efficient member of the state board of education from its organization in 1865 to 1883. For several years he served on the state board of pardons. On his retirement as judge he was appointed a state referee by the legislature, with a salary for life of $2,000 a year.
Judge Carpenter's career on the Supreme Court was identified in an unusual manner with public interests. The noted " boycott" case opinion, a few years ago, which defined the rights of the workingman so clearly that there has been no controversy with regard to the matter since, was written by him. The opinion of the court relative to the forfeiture of wages in case of a violation of contract, was also prepared by him. He was also prominent in the secret ballot and quo warranto decisions, and in those in support of the property rights of married women. He was identified throughout his judicial life with all the true progress of the law, so far as the decisions of the courts could promote it.
Though Judge Carpenter was limited in his educational opportunities to our common schools and academies, he yet got from them all that they could give to a boy of vigorous intellect, of earnestness of moral purpose, and of the most diligent and industrious habits. When he came, with less than the usual training, to the study of law and to its early practice, he brought with him an honorable ambition to succeed, a high ideal as to what is true success, and a determination to make the most of himself. He had great confidence in his power to accomplish his purposes, but no foolish conceit, and felt that his success was to depend on his industry and his fidelity to a high conception of his professional duties. He never attempted while at the bar to be rhetorical in his addresses to the court or jury, but his arguments were always clear and logical. And when on the bench he never attempted in his written opinions to use any language but that which would, with most simplicity, express fully and clearly the idea which he wished to present. He kept himself deeply interested in and well informed upon public affairs. He was strong in his political and party predilections, but was never consciously influenced by them in his judicial decisions, yet where the case demanded a decision in accordance with those predilections he had the courage to make it.. No judge could have a higher conception of judicial uprightness. No judge could be more anxious to be right in his decisions. Where he had an important case under consideration, involving some difficult question of law, he was glad to get the impression of others upon it, and often wrote out an experimental opinion which he would read to some judicial or professional friend; but where he had reached his conclusion by passing through such an ordeal he settled down upon an opinion to which he pertinaciously adhered, often dissenting in the Supreme Court where the other. judges did not agree with him. He always had the courage of his convictions. He was not very regardful of technicalities, had no fondness for the casuistries of the law, and was never led astray by the mere logic of a case; but he had a strong sense of justice and excellent common sense in applying legal principles. He was a plain man, without imagination or brilliancy of any sort, but was always practical both in the view which he took of questions before him and in the expression of his views. He was a man of the most industrious habits, and generally had the opinions which he was to write in the Supreme Court prepared in advance of all his associates. He had in the highest degree the public confidence as an honest-minded, able and fearless judge. He was one of the best fruits of our New England civilization, and one of the best products of our common schools and academies.
By a long established usage whenever a vacancy occurred in the chief-justiceship of the Supreme Court, the next senior judge, unless there were some strong reasons against it, was appointed to fill it. When Chief Justice Park retired, in April, 1889, Judge Carpenter was the next judge in seniority, and it was expected by the entire bar of the state that he would be made chief justice, and he himself fully expected it. His service on the court had been long, able and faithful. A few years before this a constitutional amendment had been adopted which provided that judicial appointments should be made by a nomination of the governor and a confirming vote of the legislature. Governor Bulkeley, to the surprise of everybody, did not nominate Judge Carpenter, but, it was reported and generally believed, tendered the nomination to two other leading lawyers, not on the court, both of whom declined it. He then offered it to Judge Charles B. Andrews, of the Superior Court, who accepted it, and his nomination was confirmed by the legislature. The bar generally felt that great injustice was done to Judge Carpenter, whose appointment would have given universal satisfaction, but all acquiesced in the appointment of Judge Andrews, who was a tried judge and a man of fine judicial ability as well as of legal learning. The writer has it on good authority that Judge Andrews hesitated greatly about taking the place, and took it only when it became certain that it would not be given to Judge Carpenter. The term of Judge Carpenter as an associate judge of the Supreme Court was to expire on the 11th day of February. 1890, and if he was reappointed it was to be by the nomination of the governor at that session of the legislature. He would then be sixty-six years old, with only four years more to serve before he would be disqualified by age. Gov. Bulkeley nominated him for reappointment and the nomination was confirmed by the legislature. He continued on the bench as an associate judge for these four years, and retired, under the constitutional limitation as to age, on the 14th day of January, 1894.
Judge Carpenter felt what he regarded as the injustice done him very keenly and never got over it. He was reasonably apprehensive that the members of the profession who should come later upon the stage, without any knowledge of the circumstances under which he failed of the chief-justiceship, would infer that he was regarded as unworthy of the place, and this statement of the facts is made under a promise given him by the writer that, if he should survive him, the matter should be fully explained in the obituary notice of him in the law reports.
About fifteen years ago Judge Carpenter suffered a shock of paralysis which left him with a permanent lameness, but from which he wholly recovered in all other respects. His mind was not at all impaired and he never did better judicial work than after it. In January, 1895, he slipped upon the ice and broke his hip, a most serious and painful injury, which was greatly aggravated by a fall in his room after he had begun to recover. He lived from that time about two years in much feebleness and suffering, which he bore with great patience and serenity, finding at last in death a much desired release.
Judge Carpenter was married in 1848 to Harriet G. Brown, of Brooklyn in this state. She died in 1874, leaving three daughters and one son. The son died in 1879 in his eighteenth year. The daughters survive him and are married respectively to Myron H. Bridgman of the Hartford Bank, Joseph F. Wattles of Boston, and Frank E. Stone of Hartford. In 1876 he married Sophia Tyler Cowen of Hartford, a granddaughter of Judge Esek Cowen, a distinguished member in his time of the Supreme Court of New York, and daughter of Sidney J. Cowen, of Saratoga, N. Y., who was a lawyer and legal writer of great ability and promise, but who died in his twenty-ninth year. She is through her mother a lineal descendent of Thomas Hooker, the first minister in Hartford, and of Johnathan Edwards, the distinguished divine. She survives the judge, with a son and daughter. Judge Carpenter was through life an active church member in the Congregational denomination, a teacher in its Sabbath schools, and for many years a deacon in the Asylum Hill Congregational Church.
In a notice of his death in the Windham County Transcript, published in Danielson, where he had resided in his early life, the editor well and justly says of him:
One of God's noblemen passed through the pearly gates last Monday. Judge Elisha Carpenter was human, as well as humane, therefore was not free from the temptations, limitations or mistakes of this earthly life; but, judging from the fruits of his long, eventful and useful life, not only his relatives and personal friends, but all impartial observers, will agree in this estimate of his character - that it was exceptionally free from any indulgence or feeling that lowers a manhood that is ever true, high-minded and thoughtful of the rights and needs of our common humanity. In a profession that is full of temptation toward deception and selfishness, in which so many bright and promising young men make shipwreck of honor and integrity for paltry fame and gain, Elisha Carpenter lived, toiled and won the highest honors, without tarnishing or lowering the high ideals awakened in his bosom when a poor lad in a country school in his native town of Eastford. Neither his services nor his soul could be bought to advocate any cause that did not appear to his clear and conscientious conviction to be worthy of advocacy and support.
At a meeting of the Hartford County bar, held on the occasion of the judge's death, several eulogistic addresses were made upon resolutions that were reported by a committee. Among others Ex-Judge Dwight Loomis said in part: -
No one outside the sacred precincts of the home circle can miss Judge Carpenter more than I do. The shaft of death fell near me when it took this friend and comrade from my side.
I am also reminded that all the judges with whom I served on the Supreme Court for any considerable time (Foster, Beardsley, Granger, Pardee, Park, and now Carpenter) have passed over to the spirit land, and this fact produces in me a feeling of loneliness akin to that depicted by the poet Moore, in his reference -
"To one who treads alone some banquet hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled, whose garland's dead,
And all but he departed."
I do not recall a friend in whom the domestic virtues were manifested in greater perfection than in Judge Carpenter. He was kind, confiding, generous, courteous, self-sacrificing, pure and devoted in his affection; and hence he always held a first place in the hearts of all with whom he was connected by ties of blood or association. Few men have had more or truer friends or fewer enemies than he. As a citizen he was public-spirited, patriotic, loyal to the truth and righteousness and good order.
Perhaps the best estimate of the man stay be derived from his long and conspicuous career as a judge. All the elements that enter into the mingled warp and woof of human character, it seems to me may be best exhibited and tested in the judicial office. When we think how the lives and fortunes of men hang suspended upon the strength, purity and integrity of one frail human soul, you say how great, yea, how awful is the responsibility resting upon him! Great temptations intrude upon him to swerve him from the line of perfect rectitude, and if he has prejudices (and who has not) an artful advocate will be advocate in waking them to action. To the great and eternal honor of Judge Carpenter it may be said he followed boldly and faithfully in the narrow path of justice and truth. True to himself, true to his high office, unawed by fear, unseduced by affection, his standard of legal morality was of a high order. His love of truth was spotless, and his honesty of purpose above suspicion.
His legal opinions as round in the Connecticut Reports show a mind of clear perceptions, practical and logical. But the polar star which guided his course in every discussion seemed to be his love of right. He always wanted to put some right in the place of some wrong, and this should be the inspiration of every lawyer and judge.
Finally and above all, he had a profoundly religious nature. He was always humble, patient, unostentatious and forgiving, and delighted to minister to others. He believed in the realities of the spiritual world and the higher life. He could subscribe to the creed of Dr. John Watson: "I believe in the fatherhood of God. I believe in the words of Jesus. I believe in a clean heart. I believe in the service of love. I believe in the unworldly life. I believe in the beatitudes. I promise to trust God and follow Christ; to forgive my enemies and to seek after the righteousness of God."
Judge Carpenter's character was tried in the furnace of sorrow and pain and it came out as gold.
The resolutions passed by the bar were as follows:
Whereas, The State of Connecticut has, in the recent death of the Honorable Elisha Carpenter, lost one of its most eminent judges, and most respected and beloved citizens-
Resolved, That we, the bar of Hartford County recognize that Judge Carpenter, in the breadth of his knowledge and the soundness of his intellect, and especially in the rarer and more important elements that make character - in shrewd common sense, in conscientious, untiring industry, in courageous integrity, in fairness, in courteous, patient. unfailing kindliness, was preeminently fitted for that most important and most dignified office in the gift of the people which he had so long and so honorably filled.
Resolved, That we feel that Judge Carpenter's death comes as a personal loss and sorrow to the bench and the bar of this whole State, and especially to us, his brother lawyers of this county, who knew him longest and best; and that we extend to his bereaved family in their so much greater loss and sorrow our sincere and deep sympathy.
Resolved, That these resolutions be recorded in the records of this bar, and that a copy be transmitted to the family of the deceased.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter by Mr. Hooker, the former reporter of the court.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 33, page iii
Elected [to the Supreme Court of Errors] by the General Assembly at its May session 1865, to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Dutton.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 63, page iii (also printed in volume 64, page iii)
Retired January 14th, 1894, under constitutional limitation as to age.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 34, pages 585 - 586
Since the publication of the last volume another of the leading members of the Fairfield County Bar has been removed by death, of whom the following obituary notice has been furnished, at the request of the reporter, by Hon. Henry Dutton of New Haven.
JOSIAH MASON CARTER was born in the town of New Canaan in this state on the 19th day of June 1813, and graduated at Yale College among the first scholars of his class in the year of 1836. He studied law with Hon. Thomas B. Osborne at Fairfield, and was admitted to the Fairfield County bar in August 1839. He commenced to practice of law in the city of New York in 1841, in which he was married. In 1847 he removed to Norwalk, in this state, and formed a law partnership with Hon. Thomas B. Butler, now the Supreme Court of the state, with whom he continued until the elevation of the latter to the bench in 1855. He continued to reside in Norwalk, devoting himself laboriously to the practice of his profession, till his death, which occurred on the 21st day of March 1868. He was a member of the General Assembly of the state in the years 1850, 1861 and 1862, and the last year was Speaker of the House. He was the candidate of the Whig Party for the office of Lieutenant Governor in 1856. He was appointed State Attorney for Fairfield County in 1862 and held the office until his death. On two occasions he declined to be a candidate for a judgeship in the Superior Court, when it was urged upon him by his political friends then in power. With the exception of a hearty and intelligent interest in politics of the time, especially in their relation to the great question of human freedom, and an active interest in the educational and other public concerns of the community in which he lived, he allowed nothing to withdraw his time or attention from the practice of his profession, and his interest in politics never led him to seek or willingly accept political office. To his legal practice and to the interests intrusted to him in it he devoted himself constantly and laboriously and with the greatest fidelity. He was not a brilliant man, and had no great power as a public speaker, nor had he any special tact in the management of causes. He accomplished what he did by the careful preparation of his cases, both upon the law and the facts, and the application of good sense to the matter at hand, with a good degree of pertinacity in pursuing and insisting upon his points, and by the impression which he made on courts and juries of an honest and honorable man. He was a sound and well read lawyer, with little general culture, but with a good legal mind, well disciplined by his collegiate education and professional pursuits, and at the time of his death he stood among the most respected and trusted of the profession.
As a man he was without reproach. He was perfectly honest, truthful and moral. He was very sensitive in everything that touched his pride of character, of which he had a great deal, and to some extent his pride of opinion, in which he was not wanting; and he had a ready indignation at every act of meanness or wrong. One of his associates at the bar who knew him well, says, "He was perfectly reliable, of unquestioned integrity, of strong attachments and perhaps of equally strong antipathies, incapable of duplicity, simple, frank, and eminently social." He never made a public religious profession, almost wholly, it is believed, from self-distrust. He was a constant and interested attendant on public worship, and in his last illness expressed his desire to unite with the church if his life was spared. Some of his last utterances were of his trust in Christ. The Rev. S. B. S. Bissell, a congregational clergyman who preached his funeral sermon, says of him, after quoting the words we have quoted above, "This is a deserved eulogy, but better far for a dying man is the panegyric which we have ventured to apply to him, "A good man and just, who waited for the Kingdom of God, and was a disciple of Christ."
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 76, pages 711 - 712
WILLIAM CULLEN CASE resided all his life in the house in Granby in which he was born February 17th, 1836, with the exception of a few years' residence in Tariffville in Simsbury. He graduated at Yale in 1857; taught school for one year in Harwinton, and then studied law in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the office of Rockwell and Colt. He was admitted to the bar in 1860, opened an office in Tariffville, and at once took a prominent position among the lawyers of Hartford county. In 1869, 1870, 1872, 1873 and 1874, he represented Simsbury in the General Assembly, and Granby in 1881 and 1884; and was unanimously elected by the latter town a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1902, but died before the Convention assembled. In 1881 he was speaker of the house, and in 1884 chairman of the judiciary committee and the acknowledged leader of the house. Largely by his efforts the change from yearly to biennial elections and legislative sessions was effected. He held no political offices, though often urged to be a candidate for State senator and representative in Congress. At different times he was offered the position of judge of the Superior Court and judge of the Supreme Court, but declined the appointments.
The discussion of legal principles that had not been distinctly and positively decided was his delight; and for it he was particularly fitted, for in the field of original and logical reasoning he was unsurpassed. It was ever his effort to reduce the matter at issue to its simplest possible form. As a trier of a case he was ready on any question raised, thoroughly informed as to the facts, never at a loss, and never disconcerted. In the direct examination of witness he was clear and forcible; but of cross-examination he was a master, having a method peculiarly his own. He seldom attempted to break down a witness, but generally succeeded in so harmonizing the testimony with his own theory of the case, as to make, if not an additional witness for his own side, at least a witness of no value to his opponent. Skilled in repartee, he never feared, though he never invited, the personal altercations that sometimes arise upon a trial, and in the later years of his practice he passed by all personal remarks as unworthy of the profession. His arguments were masterpieces of logic, and when occasion invited, of wit and pathos, all expressed with perfect diction, and yet so clear that the dullest could comprehend and appreciate. No court room had vacant seats if it were known that he was to speak in an important case. With his varied powers always at command, and magnetic in his personality, he was an advocate sought for in the most difficult and complicated cases, and an opponent always to be feared. No client ever felt that his case was lost through any fault or shortcoming of his counsel. Admittedly the best orator in the State, he treated with respect the intelligence of his audience, and never attempted to befog, but always to clarify, the point at issue. He was a constant reader of the best literature and no literary gem was unknown to him, nor was he ever unable to tell its author. Keen in his insight to character, and wise as to the motives of men, with great heart to guide him, no person really in trouble ever came to him without finding a wise adviser and a sympathetic friend. He died December 21st, 1901.
*Prepared by William H. Ely, Esq., of New Haven, at the Request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 95, pages 743 - 745
WILLIAM SCOVILLE CASE was born at Tariffville, Connecticut, June 27th, 1863, the son of William Cullen Case and Margaret Turnbull Case. His ancestors were among the earliest settlers of Hartford County and he traced his descent from them through men who held important places in its affairs. His father was a noted lawyer and orator, a brief account of whose life may be found in the seventy-sixth volume of Connecticut Reports, at page 711. When Judge Case was a boy the family removed to Granby, and that was his home until the exigencies of his public office induced his removal to Hartford and later to West Hartford, where he lived at the time of his death. He prepared for college at the Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven, and went thence to Yale College, from which he graduated in 1885. While there, he was a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity and the Scroll and Key society, and was managing editor of the “Yale Record.” After graduation, he studied law in the office of his father and was admitted to the bar in Hartford County in 1887. In the legislative sessions of 1887 and 1889, he acted as clerk of bills. In October, 1891, he was appointed law clerk at the United States Patent Office and continued there until April, 1893. In 1895 he published a novel, “Forward House,” which was very favorably received. He became judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Hartford County in July, 1897, a judge of the Superior Court in October, 1901, and a justice of the Supreme Court of Errors August 23d, 1919, which position he held until his death, February 28th, 1921. In June, 1919, he received the honorary degree of LL. D. from Trinity College. On April 8th, 1891, he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Nathan Nichols, of Salem, Massachusetts. Three children were born to them, William Nichols, who died in infancy, Mary, now Mrs. George Hart, and John Rodman. The latter two, with their mother, survive him.
Judge Case had a nature rarely endowed. In his personal associations he was generally regarded as a recluse. It is true that he was never a seeker for companionship among men, and was indifferent to those who did not by their personalities or gifts arouse in him a spark of real interest; but to the few who met this test, he was genial, expansive, and full of the liveliest and most thoroughgoing fun; to them and to his family he could be overwhelmingly tender, deeply emotional, ardently impulsive. He loved music, so vitally that it was almost a necessary adjunct of his life. He had a rich artistic talent, which, developed seriously, might easily have brought him success and fame, but which he used to while away the tedium of wearying trials or idle moments. Some day, perhaps, his caricatures of court officials, lawyers and witnesses who came into his courtroom may be offered to a larger circle than the chosen few to whom he enjoyed showing them; his eye for the inner man was too keen and his pen too skilled to permit that now. He delighted in great books and had a fine literary taste. He could write, and young as he was when he wrote it, “Forward House” held no mean promise for the future; and while in the busy calling he chose there was no opportunity to realize any literary ambition he might have had, his skill in the use of words served him well; for it made possible the clarity, pungency, and often the wit of his memoranda and opinions. Always he knew, not merely just what he desired to say, but just how best to say it. And one other quality he had which marked him apart from other men, his sense of humor. He was quick to catch and value the little oddities and humorous incidents that came to his attention and had a fine gift for recounting them; and he could spin a tenuous web of incongruous thoughts from some trivial situation or unusual circumstance which would hold his auditors as long as he willed upon the delightful hesitant verge of laughter. With his personality and his gifts he could not be other than a fine public speaker, but he could rarely be persuaded to appear in that capacity.
With almost twenty-four years, the best of his life, spent upon the bench, it is as the judge that he was best known and by most men valued. His associations there with the bar were most happy; except in brief periods of ill-health, he was equable in temper, showing impatience only with stupidity, sham or pretense, or with a failure on the part of an attorney properly to prepare or fairly to present his case; he had no favorites at the bar, and no attorney ever hesitated to bring his case to hearing before him; and he was particularly kindly to the young lawyer making perhaps his first appearance in court. He understood men and the motives which moved them; insincerity or falsehood could not escape his clear vision, but for their weaknesses and failures he had sympathy; the honest but embarrassed witness found in him a friend, for often with a question or two he would bring order into their confused narratives, or throw into relief the essential fact in a wearisome mass of detail. His mind was keenly analytical; without effort, it would seem, he grasped the true significance of a circumstance or the essentials in a situation, and so quickly, that often he would leave the attorneys groping behind. He had integrity, not merely an unconscious and unquestioned honesty in act, but that rarer quality of intellectual honesty, in the light of which he valued not merely men and causes, but tested his own endeavors and thoughts and ideals. And he worked justice, not in the narrow sense of applying to the concrete situation before him his own abstract conceptions of right, but with a broad understanding of the underlying principles which, however they might affect the interests of the immediate parties, would, in the long run, work out the most good to the greatest number. He valued the garnered wisdom stored in the reports of former decisions; but, no case-bound lawyer, he was thoroughly awake to the movements of the time and quick to detect and reject the obsolete or the meretricious. To him, the law was no static code, fast fixed in old bonds and unbreakable precedents, but it was a minister to human progress. And so he served it, nobly. He was a great judge, and, had he lived, his figure would have grown to an even greater stature in deed and in the thoughts of men.
One who knew him in his years upon the bench of the Superior Court says: “He was born to be a judge; he needed neither cap, wig, nor gown to dignify his office. There was something about his very presence in the courtroom which instantly commanded respect, and which dignified the institution of which he constituted so large a part and intensified the majesty of the law for which he had such profound respect. Litigants and witnesses, jurors and spectators, left his court with a renewed confidence in the integrity of our institutions, in the impartiality of our administration of justice, and in the capacity of that branch of the government to fulfill its functions.” And another, who was associated with him upon the bench of the Supreme Court, speaks as follows; “It was then, in those intimate relations, and in the light of what was there revealed that I came to appreciate to the full Judge Case’s mental grasp, the acuteness, alertness, and keenness of his mind which led him straight through the intricacies of a case, however involved, and to discern what were the real issues of it. And he did that so easily and quickly that it was almost uncanny. He not only saw what the issues were, but also had the legal acumen to apply the appropriate law to their determination and so to the determination of the case. It was a pleasure to be with him in consultation. Never verbose, never contentious, always willing to give heed to what another had to say, he went right to the point, it seemed to me, as very few are able to do.”
*Prepared by Hon. William M. Maltbie of the Hartford County Bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 94, page iv
Appointed to Supreme Court February 13th, 1919, to take effect August 23d, 1919.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 95, page iii
Died February 28th, 1921.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 60, pages 592 - 593
ABIJAH CATLIN, then the oldest member of the Litchfield County bar, died at the family homestead in Harwinton on April 14th, 1891. He was born at the same place on April 1st, 1805, being the fourth in lineal descent, and of the same name, who were born successively on the ancestral farm, who inherited it, and who lived and died there, since Major Abijah Catlin, the first of the line, emigrated from Hartford to Harwinton, in 1739, as one of the original settlers of that town.
The subject of this notice was graduated from Yale College in 1825, where he was a classmate with the late George C. Woodruff of Litchfield. He studied law with William S. Holabird, Esq., at Winchester, and began practice in Georgia; but, on the death of his father in 1837, he returned to Harwinton and took possession of the old homestead. There he lived during the remainder of his life, practicing law, representing his town and senatorial district in the General Assembly, serving as judge of the County Court, holding various state offices, and other positions of public trust, and acting as judge of probate and justice of the peace until disqualified by age.
The following list of state offices held by Judge Catlin shows only a part of the public duties performed during his long career. He represented Harwinton ten times in the House of Representatives, namely, in 1837, `8, `9, 1840, 1851, 1861, `2, `5, 1874, `9. He served in the Senate in 1844; was Judge of the County Court in 1844, `5 ; Comptroller in 1847, `8, `9; School Fund Commissioner in 1852; Presidential Elector in 1880.
Generous by nature, somewhat irascible, though placable, Judge Catlin early developed the best characteristics of the great yeoman class from which he sprang. He was always the honest, intelligent lawyer-farmer, reliable in places of trust, fearless in the exposure of meanness and injustice, always at the front in times of danger, truckling neither to man nor to money. On the breaking out of the war he was one of the prominent leaders of the Union party organized in this state by members of both the old parties for the sole purpose of preventing the dismemberment of the republic.
Indeed Judge Catlin always loved republicanism and the republic. He feared growth of the money power and greatly regretted the decline of agriculture in his county and state. The writer well remembers his telling him, not many years since, of the feeling of discouragement aroused within him by a recent perusal of Sallust's terrible picture, in his Cataline, of the demoralization and decay of the Roman commonwealth, and he clearly recognized the similarity of the conditions of the great republic of the ancient world to those which are so rapidly developing in our own. Nevertheless, the prevailing tone of his mind was the hopefulness natural to a sound and courageous manhood.
One could not reasonably expect the development of a great lawyer in a small agricultural community in one of the oldest states of the union. But such a community seldom mourns the loss of a more honest, honorable or useful citizen.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by George A. Hickox, Esq., of the Litchfield County bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 51, pages 602 - 603
Old Lyme, quietly resting between the tides of Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, is far from being a type of New England activity. It nourishes neither factories nor universities. But it is typical of another kind of New England life, brought from the older England. Its quiet landscapes, pure water scenes and lovely sunsets, have attracted and developed peaceful homes and domestic refinement.
Notable have been the gifts which this unpretentious town has made to the legal profession. Here lived and died Chief Justice Henry M. Waite, of our highest bench. Here were born his sons Morrison R. and Richard C., the former the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the latter a prominent lawyer at Toledo. Here lived the Griswolds, Roger and Matthew, the former one of the ablest of our governors, and both lawyers of high rank. Here lives, in the serenity of a ripe old age, with intellectual powers as keen as the edge of Damascus steel, another, who retired from our supreme bench, superannuated only by the terms of law. And the Seldens, and Parsons, Noyes, and Marvin, might be added to the list of the lawyers of Lyme. And here on the 24th day of last November, in the full vigor of mature intellectual power, when he seemed best equipped for usefulness, DANIEL CHADWICK died. Here he was born, January 8th, 1825; and for nearly two centuries his family have made Old Lyme their home. He was a nephew of Chief Justice Henry M. Waite. He prepared for college at Middletown, where he formed a friendship with his classmate, Rutherford B. Hayes, which continued while his companion was the recipient of the highest honors of his state and nation. He graduated at Yale in 1845, a classmate of A. P. Hyde, Esq., of the Hartford Bar, and their intimacy continued until it was interrupted by death. He studied law with Judge Waite and Judge Foster, and was admitted to the bar in 1847. He was a member of the State Senate in 1858 and again in 1864, where he was a successful chairman of the judiciary committee. In 1859 he was a member of the House of Representatives. In 1866 he was appointed State's Attorney for New London County, which office he filled until 1876. In 1880 he became United States' Attorney for the district of Connecticut, which office he held until his death. He was a government director of the Union Pacific Railroad Company, a member of the Republican National Committee, and a delegate to the Chicago Convention of 1880. In 1875 a joint caucus of the members of both political parties in the General Assembly tendered to him the nomination for judge of the Superior Court, which honor he declined. In 1848 he married Miss Ellen Noyes of Lyme, who, with their two sons and a daughter, survives him.
Mr. Chadwick's acquirements were manifold and his character and mind were symmetrical. He was always the soul of good sense and good judgment - and praise of the human intellect can go little further than that. His intuitions of men and things were penetrating and sound. What a commentary upon the insufficiency of the recompense which we award to our judges! Chadwick, who seemed born for the bench, by the decrees of predestination, was compelled to decline its honors, tendered to him in a way of exceptional unanimity and compliment, because his practice gave him so much larger opportunities to make reasonable provision for the domestic circle which he loved.
As a public prosecutor he had no thought of justice except as flavored with kindness. He was faithful to his trust, as representing the protection which society must have against the assaults of crime, with the fidelity of conscience, but he never forgot himself, Daniel Chadwick, man of decencies, sympathies and tenderness, in the temptations of advocacy. Ambition for professional success and the prospect of an increased bank account were powerless to induce him to seek conviction of the probably innocent, or to burden his docket with indictments against trivial offences. It is a perilous way wherein the public prosecutor walks. He is counselor and advocate for an orderly community; but he is more. His treatment of the wayward, disorderly and wicked is almost judicial. He speaks to the jury for the commonwealth, earnestly and fairly, but never with zeal for personal triumphs. In these straits Chadwick moved, a model attorney for the State and the Federal Government. To the long list of our eminent attorneys for the public, as Toucey, Ingersoll, Perkins, Hubbard, Ferry and the rest, we may add the name of Daniel Chadwick.
As a private counselor he was wise and discreet. He composed many quarrels, he fostered no single one. As an advocate he was singularly successful in measuring the taste and capacity of his forum. Simple and clear, he was often strong and profound, and was always effective. He addressed the Supreme Court, the jury, the legislative committee and the public, appropriately and wisely. He was a loving husband, an affectionate father, a delightful companion, and no man was a truer friend. He was of the pure in heart, and their benediction was his, and will be forever.
*Prepared, at the request of the Reporter, by Henry C. Robinson, Esq., of the Hartford Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 63, pages 611 - 614
Valentine Burt Chamberlain, whose long career as a judge, as well as prominence as a legal advisor and practitioner, well entitles his name to remembrance here, was born in Colebrook, Litchfield County, on the 13th day of April, 1833, being descended on both sides from sturdy colonial stock. His preparatory studies were pursued at the Connecticut Literary Institution in Suffield, and he was graduated from Williams College in 1857. Studying law with Seth E. Case, Esq., of New Britain, he was admitted to the bar in 1859, and began the practice of the law in that town. In 1861 he was elected clerk of the House of Representatives, Hon. Augustus Brandegee being speaker.
The war of rebellion breaking out in 1861, he enlisted in the 7th regiment under Gen. Hawley. He was with his regiment at the brilliant siege of Fort Pulaski, and in September, 1862, was promoted to the captaincy of his company in which he had enlisted as second lieutenant. He was selected to command the right of the picked battalion of the 7th regiment which made the brave but deadly assault at Fort Wagner in July, 1863, and was one of a handful of men who scaled the rebel parapet and were captured within the fort. From the time of his capture until March 1, 1865, he was in rebel prisons in South Carolina. It was during that time that he made the thrilling escape from Columbus Prison in the fall of 1863 with Maj. Henry W. Camp, of which so graphic an account is given in Trumbull's "Knightly Soldier." Paroled at last after nearly two years of loathsome captivity in rebel prisons, he rejoined his regiment just in time to witness the closing scenes of the war.
Few soldiers of Connecticut left a more brilliant, and none a more patriotic record; but there was a cruel irony in the fate which consigned a splendid soldier to long captivity, and prevented him from fully displaying the qualifications for command and achievement, which all who knew him recognized, and which significantly manifested as long as he was in the field.
Taking up residence again in New Britain, after a short sojourn in Florida, from which state he was a delegate to the convention which first nominated Gen. Grant, he devoted himself to his profession, and was soon after elected judge of the city and criminal courts, to both of which he was almost continuously re-elected from 1868 to the time of his death on the 25th of June, 1893. He was also elected Judge of Probate for the Berlin District, which included New Britain, in 1880 and was re-elected for several terms.
As would naturally be expected, his judicial functions largely absorbed the legal activities of Judge Chamberlain, but at the same time, they afforded him opportunity for the discharge of other duties calling for the sound judgment of the trained lawyer, and strict integrity and decision of character which were his natural endowment. Accordingly, he was elected state treasurer in 1884, when Henry B. Harrison was elected governor. He was assistant pension agent until the Connecticut District was merged in that of Massachusetts; and at his death he was president of the Mechanics National Bank, treasurer of the Burritt Saving Bank, and director in several of the great manufacturing corporations of New Britain, which, by reason of control of such men as he, have always and everywhere have celebrated for intelligence and integrity of management.
As a lawyer, Judge Chamberlain's qualities were sound judgment, firm grasp of leading principles and an all dominating common sense. These qualities were especially noticeable in the skill and tact with which he administered the criminal law. Mercy with him was a part of justice, when mercy would have an educational and reformatory effect, but the right of society to be rid of old offenders was always vindicated. The enthusiastic admirer who declared that he made of his court a pulpit, did not intend to imply that there was anything weak in his administration of law and justice, and there was not.
As a practitioner, his mind had in it no tendency to circumlocutory approach. He achieved his victories by direct attack. Such a thing as a vicious blow was absolutely foreign to his nature. He would win fairly or fail in the fight. As a speaker, he was both intellectual and emotional. He always impressed the hearer as having something to say, of the right and justice of which he was profoundly convinced, and he therefore succeeded in convincing others. He had the soul of an orator; he felt that first which he would have his hearer feel. There was a rich vein, too, of imagination in his mental equipment, and, though he worked it seldom, it yielded then rich treasures of true oratory. He was always in demand as a speaker at the meetings of the Army and Navy Club, and whenever patriotic solders and citizens were drawn together by memories of the war or devotion to its principles. Nothing stirred him like his country's flag. To him it was more than an emblem. It was instinct with life; it was his country itself, - the country for which he fought and to which, in the principles underlying its prosperity and guaranteeing its perpetuity, he could no more be recreant in maturer years than in his youth he could have faltered on the field of battle.
Indeed, every good cause found Judge Chamberlain ready with weapons in hand for battle. If his warm championship sometimes made enemies for the time, they did not remain enemies. There was no malice in his strong and even rugged nature, and all who dealt with him came to admire him first and to love him afterwards.
In politics. Judge Chamberlain was a strong and prominent Republican. Twice he was a member of conventions for the nominations of candidates for the presidency; of the first we have already spoken; the second was the convention in Chicago in 1884. In a commendable sense, he was a partisan, and yet it was a political opponent who penned the following tribute, with which this sketch must close: - "We knew him as an adviser, we knew him on the streets, we knew him on the bench, we knew him in town meeting and in places of public trust, and we always had confidence in him as a man whose acts were actuated by principle and who believed what he said. Tender hearted as a woman, full of human compassion, he combined a strong will with a gentle poetic nature, and he was in truth a manly man. Tears came to many eyes to-day when the sad news of his death went from mouth to mouth. They are the best and truest `In Memoriam' inasmuch as they were heartfelt evidence of the affection and respect in which he was held. Visibly he has gone, but the flavor of his life and the moral of his existence will live long as a text and inspiration for all of us."
To what has been so well said about him here and elsewhere, I wish to add the tribute of a comrade, to the memory of comrade Valentine B. Chamberlain. I was not in the regiment or command with him, nor did I know him during the war. That made no difference. Every Connecticut soldier in the great struggle for the Union was his comrade and his friend. He loved them all; and surely they all loved him. May I not say they love him still.
He delighted in the gatherings of veterans. He was there in his element, and at his best, if there be indeed a best to one who was always good, and kind, and pure, and noble. But he had won his spurs and been knighted, upon the field of battle, and he remembered the obligations of nobility. If clouds ever came into the atmosphere in which he lived, he never brought them upon his face to the company of his fellows. It was eternal sunshine where he stood, and his cordial hand grasp, as Shakespeare said of Mercy, was twice blessed; - to him who gave, and him who took.
Then, too, how eloquent he was, with that sweetness of speech which flows through the lips, but springs from the heart. He was unrivaled in this state as a Memorial Day speaker, as many a great audience, elevated to the loftiest heights of patriotism by his glowing utterance, will hear witness. And he was especially happy in that typical union of the soldiers and sailors of this state. The Army and Navy Club, to whose meetings he was life, and inspiration, and cheer. "Comrades," he said, "we want a good time, and we must have it. We wish to get in all that we can in the little time which is given us." And we did, when he was present, all the more truly because nothing in that presence might be done, or said, or thought, that could bring a blush to the face of a woman, or pang to the heart of a saint.
On the Friday evening next before the Sunday on which he died, at the annual banquet of the association to which I have just referred, I sat at table four precious hours by his side. It was indeed a feast of reason and of the soul. His hand clasped mine in parting, just as our watches told the hour of midnight, and he turned away to live his last full day on earth. I did not then imagine that parting was forever. Nor do I think so now. The midnight ushers in the morn, and it is darkest just before the dawn begins. It must be daylight soon. Until that time shall come, his own words uttered two years ago, when, as toast master of our club, he set a star at the name of each deceased comrade, shall be our word to him, and them: "Comrades here, greetings to comrades there. If it be so that the veil, so dark to us, is luminous to you, then see us as we pledge anew our fraternal love, and hear us as we say, until the morning breaks, Good Night."
*Prepared at the request of the reporter by Hon. Charles E. Mitchell, of the Hartford County bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 68, pages 593 - 594
FRANKLIN CHAMBERLIN was born at Dalton, Massachusetts, April 14th, 1821, and died at Hartford, Conn., September 10th, 1896. He was prepared to enter college as a sophomore at sixteen, but gave up a college course on account of the limited means of his parents, and was for a time engaged in business and teaching. In 1842 he began his law studies in the office of the Hon. William Porter of Lee, then District Attorney for western Massachusetts, and in 1843 entered the Harvard Law School, where he was a classmate of President Hayes, and studied under Professors Greenleaf and Parsons.
In 1815 he was admitted to the Massachusetts bar and at once formed a partnership with Mr. Porter, whose daughter, Mary W. Porter, he married the same year. Nine years later Mr. Chamberlin moved to Springfield and formed a partnership with Hon. Reuben Chapman, afterwards chief justice of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. Mr. Chapman being called to the bench, Mr. Chamberlin came, in 1862, to Hartford, where the remainder of his life was spent in practice, first with the late Ezra Hall, then with the late E. S. White, and still later with Hiram R. Mills. At Hartford he gave his attention to the study of insurance law, and for a dozen years was constantly under retainer of the leading insurance companies and connected with nearly all the important insurance legislation of the State. When the New York Association of Underwriters undertook in 1886 the preparation of a uniform policy to be used by all companies, Mr. Chamberlin was employed with Mr. William Allen Butler and Mr. A. H. Sawyer of New York, as counsel for the work. His practice, however, was not confined to any specialty, but was varied and profitable.
Although a staunch Republican in politics, Mr. Chamberlin had little taste for political life, and declined a nomination to Congress while in Springfield. He sat, however, in the Connecticut legislature in 1865, and was chairman of two committees.
As a lawyer Mr. Chamberlin's chief characteristics were integrity, respect for the responsibilities of his profession, unflagging industry and zeal in preparation for his work, and a philosophic temper of mind which led him to draw conclusions from the underlying principles of jurisprudence, independently of technicalities. Upon broad grounds he rapidly reached conclusions as to what the law should be, without regard to any particular decision which he could recall. Subsequent examination of authorities confirmed or modified, or even reversed, his own conclusions; but he vigorously criticised and protested against such as he could not bring into harmony with his own ideas of the proper application of the elementary principles involved.
Keen and accurate in his judgment of men, he adapted himself quickly to their peculiarities. Never technical, narrow, or harsh, and endowed with unusual grace and facility of expression, he was a speaker to whom juries and courts listened unwearied.
For a synopsis of the personal traits of Mr. Chamberlin, part of an editorial from the Hartford Courant printed a few days after his death may be quoted: "Mr. Chamberlin's nature was universally lovable. His warmly affectionate disposition knew no bounds in generous helpfulness to those whom he loved, and the extent of his ready financial assistance to others in time of need was most remarkable. His genial, sunny temper was nowhere so noticeable as in his own home, where he was veritable sunshine to all who knew him. The charm and elegance of his courtly manner, that of a true gentleman of the old school, his long experience at the bar, and his extensive travels, combined to make him a man noticeable in the social world, as in any other, and a personality invariably attractive to friends and strangers alike."
Suitable resolutions were passed by the Hartford County bar at a meeting called to take action upon his death.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter by Hiram R. Mills, Esq., of the Hartford County bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 2, page vii
Appointed [Judge of the Supreme Court of Errors] May, 1818, vice Hon. SIMEON BALDWIN and CALVIN GODDARD.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 6, page iii
Died at New-Haven, September, 1825.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 35, pages 605 - 612
CHARLES CHAPMAN, the most brilliant advocate of the Connecticut bar, died at Hartford, where he resided, on the 7th day of August, 1869, in the seventy-first year of his age. He was born in Newtown in this state on the 21st of June, 1799. His father was Asa Chapman, a Judge of the Supreme Court of the state. He commenced his law studies with his father, pursued them for a time at the Litchfield Law School, and completed them with the late Chief Justice Williams, then in practice in Hartford. He commenced the practice of law in New Haven, and in 1832 removed to Hartford, where he spent the remainder of his life. He six times represented the town of Hartford in the state legislature, and was elected to Congress in 1851 by the Whig party, to which he was then attached. He was also United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut from the spring of 1841 to the close of 1844.
Mr. Chapman had a very large professional practice, especially in criminal cases. There was hardly a criminal trial in the state of special importance in which he was not employed for the defence, and he often went into neighboring states upon such cases. Over-work in the trial of a protracted case in Northampton, Mass., a few months before his death, undoubtedly hastened that event.
Mr. Chapman seemed to be in his natural element in the trial of causes before a jury. The more desperate his case the more he seemed to be inspired by it. His resources were inexhaustible. His power in addressing a jury was very remarkable. In the examination of witnesses and the sifting of evidence he had no superior; it seemed impossible for a falsehood to elude him. His sarcasm, when he thought the occasion demanded it, was terrible. He had command of a masterly English, which he compacted into sentences generally of finished elegance, often of dramatic power. His wit was always keen and ever in hand; nobody approached him in readiness of retort. He did not move his hearers as the greatest orators do, by being profoundly impressed himself and carrying them along by sympathy. The process with him was wholly intellectual. Cool himself and with a perfect comprehension of the subtlest springs of human feeling and action, he played with his audience like a magician. Wit, pathos, humor, invective, fancy, logic - all seemed to combine or take their turn in sweeping every thing before them. In his delivery he was entirely natural and his manner unstudied. He was very social in his nature, a remarkably good talker, and incomparable and inexhaustible as a story-teller. Many of his felicities of speech and story will long survive among the festive traditions of the bar.
His character, especially in its professional relations, is admirably sketched by the Hon. Richard D. Hubbard, in remarks made by him at a meeting of the Hartford County Bar called on the occasion of Mr. Chapman's death, and by the Hon. William D. Shipman, Judge of the U. S. District Court, in his address to the Superior Court on presenting the resolutions of the Bar.
REMARKS OF MR. HUBBARD.
Will my professional brethren indulge me in a word of retrospect suggested by the occasion?
When I first came to the bar of this county, the chiefest honors of the profession were worn by six stately leaders - Parsons, Ellsworth, Toucey, Chapman, and by two of our brethren who still abide among us in the plenitude of a cheerful and respected old age. Long, very long may the survivors continue to wear the honors which they have so richly earned and so long enjoyed.
In rising to pay a passing tribute to the memory of our brother who has just deceased, I do it with somewhat of the feeling of a soldier in the middle rank of the advance, who suddenly finds a gap opened in his immediate front, and who is hurried forward in the order of events and by the allotments of battle into the perilous breach which faces the common enemy.
Nor can I forget - as, in the pause which this event occasions, I look back to the beginning of the march, or to what to me at least was its beginning - how the whole column has been pierced from front to rear and from side to centre. There are not only Parsons, Ellsworth, Toucey, and Chapman, whom I have already named, but a longer catalogue which my memory scarcely suffices to fill. There are Williams, Day, Mitchell, Welles, Robinson, the two Drakes, Lowry, Woodruff, Smith, Giddings, and Case, - all fallen out from our ranks in less than a score of years.
I recall this dead-roll of our profession not without sadness, but with a sadness tempered by time and distance. It tells us the old tale - that in the very blossom of our years there is " a smell of mortality."
But what fitting expressions to represent a fresh and untempered grief shall I find for the friend and brother who has so long walked among us in honor, and whom a few short hours will hide from our sight in the eternal silence of the grave.
Let me speak of him, not in the language of fulsome and undiscriminating eulogy, but in a few temperate words which shall express a just and truthful estimate of his character and genius.
I have know him for the last twenty-five years; for much of that time have been in professional association with him - for the most part as an adversary, not unfrequently as a colleague. I know what succors of courage and resource he brought as an associate. I know what destructive weapons he wielded as an adversary.
In professional attainments purely scientific he was, I think, excelled by some of this brethren. His taste did not run largely into the field of dry science or technical law. But in natural parts, in the ready command of all his resources, in strategic skill, and the graces of oratory, he had, as I think, no equal at the bar. In that kind of labor and research which precedes the trial of a case and which we call preparation, he was excelled by many of his brethren. But when the hour of trial came, and the harness was to be put on, he addressed himself to the work with a will and with a marvelous intuition.
In the delicate duty of examining witnesses - above all in that most important and most difficult of all professional functions, a cross-examination - he was not only distinguished, he was consummate. A cross-examination with him was a hot and running fire of scathing inquisitions. He searched the very reins of a witness. A perjurer in his hands was not merely unmasked, he suffered on the spot a part at least of the punishment due to his crime.
But after all, it was perhaps in the summing up of a case to the jury that the whole range of his faculties found their fullest play. In the ready analyzing of a chaotic mass of evidence, in the skillful selection and use of materials, in the orderly and logical distribution of an argument, in the matchless architecture of his sentences, in fertility of illustration, in vigor of attack and coolness in retreat, in pungency of satire for his adversaries and opulence of wit for all, both friend and foe - in all these he was great, in some of them he had no superior, in few of them an equal. If he was not a great lawyer in the special sense in which Coke and Saunders and Eldon were great lawyers, he was certainly a most brilliant advocate, possessed of rare faculties of reason and imagination, of rhetoric, pathos, humor, and that strange magnetic force which with the others make up the secret and gift of eloquence.
This in a few words is my estimate of the genius and character of our deceased brother. We shall miss henceforth from the contentions of the forum a chief of marvelous strength and grace, and from the walks of professional fellowship and social life a friend of the most kindly and genial instincts.
With these broken and imperfect utterances, in this place which was the theatre of his life-work, and in this presence which was the witness of his brilliant triumphs, I take my leave, with bended head I take my leave, of an adversary whose steel I have had occasion to know was sharp and piercing, and at the same time of a friend and brother whose heart, I have had not less cause to know, was generous and loving. From my heart of hearts I drop, as I turn away, these words of valediction. Peace to the sleeper who has gone from us, and honor to his name and memory which are left with us.
The address of JUDGE SHIPMAN to the Superior Court on presenting the resolutions of the Bar was as follows: -
May it please your Honor, - Since the last session of this court, the HON. CHARLES CHAPMAN, an eminent member of the bar of this county and state, has closed his earthly career. He died at his residence in this city on the 7th instant. At a meeting of his professional brethren held in this room on the 9th, the resolutions which have just been read were passed, and my associate and myself were directed to present them to this court, and move that they be entered on the minutes. We know that your Honor will readily grant this motion, while fully appreciating the sad event which has called for this mournful but appropriate formality.
Though these resolutions express the sense of the bar at the loss we have all suffered in the death of this distinguished lawyer, I deem it proper to submit a few suggestions in this place where he so well performed his duties and won his renown. And yet, neither his labors nor his honors were confined to this court room. He was well known in every part of the state. His striking personal qualities, his keen, polished intellect, and his peculiar eloquence, are familiar to the public, and especially to the profession of which he was so conspicuous an ornament, throughout the bounds of Connecticut. Nor was his fame or services as an advocate wholly limited to his native commonwealth. He was not unfrequently engaged in important causes in several neighboring states, and I have had occasion to know that he sustained abroad that reputation which he so well earned at home.
Charles Chapman was endowed by nature with rare and peculiar gifts which found an appropriate theatre for their exercise in the profession he so assiduously followed for more than forty years. He did not mistake his vocation. He was born for the contests of the bar, and for the duties of an advocate - that department of his profession in which he was pre-eminently distinguished. Here his original, vigorous and brilliant qualities were constantly displayed. In saying this I do not go beyond the simple truth. I am aware how poorly I should emulate his clear and accurate discrimination if I were to indulge in mere vague and exaggerated eulogy. He did not pretend to be profoundly versed in the merely technical and abstruse learning of the books. His preparation for his duties was not drawn from the laborious examination of authorities, but from a peculiar mental organization, instinct with life, intelligence and force. His power as an advocate was not altogether, nor mainly, due to his humor, his pathos, and his flashing wit, though these were all displayed in striking and spontaneous fertility. But his great strength lay in his clear and accurate intellectual vision. His comprehension of the facts of a case, the relation of these facts to each other, and their exact force and bearing upon the main issue, was unsurpassed. His matured conceptions were not the result of slow and toilsome mental processes, but of a vivid, often instantaneous, insight. This peculiar intellectual trait was well known to all who were associated with him in the trial of a cause, especially where at the close of the evidence he was immediately called to enter upon the argument. The very suddenness of the emergency seemed to summon every resource and electrify every faculty of his mind. On such occasions he often exhibited throughout his efforts a sustained and commanding power.
The popular estimate of this great advocate's abilities, rests upon his eloquence and upon what non-professional observers sometimes denominate his ingenuity - occasionally by way of disparagement, his cunning. That he was often eloquent, no one who has heard him on a variety of occasions will deny. But his eloquence was the natural product of strong intellectual powers animated by strong feelings and fired by an unreserved and enthusiastic devotion to the cause of his client. There was nothing artificial in his diction or address. He displayed few of the borrowed ornaments of literature. His style was always simple, clear, often beautiful, and though never gorgeous or affluent, abounded in allusions to human traits, experience, and events, both apt and instructive. There was no rouge or tinsel on his rhetoric. The tints and glow came from the light and heat of his own genius. It was not the beauty of his style, nor his impassioned declamation, that his antagonist had most to fear. It was rather that sleepless, vigilant intelligence. the lucid and natural order in which he marshaled his materials, and the fervor and cogency with which he addressed himself to the good sense and innate love of justice and fair dealing in the mind of the triers.
It is undoubtedly a just criticism which attributes to him ingenuity. He had what, if not genius, approached very near it. He was witty, extremely acute in the range of observation, where his mind worked with uncommon precision and force. He was skillful in the use of his materials. But he never constructed elaborate and ingenious theories. There was nothing abstruse or theoretical in the operations of his mind. His intellectual lights played on the substantial and concrete, and revealed rather the result of his clear and acute observation than artful or elaborate theories. No greater mistake could be made than to suppose that mere ingenuity and adroitness were the main weapons which made Charles Chapman, for nearly forty years, a singular power at the bar of this state. His capacity to maintain a high position in a large class of cases with the able leaders of the profession, was due to quite other and higher qualities than mental dexterity.
The features of his mind which I have thus rudely sketched must, in the very nature of things, have made him an able advocate in criminal causes. In this field he is admitted on all hands to have been without a superior, I may say without an equal, at the bar of this state. The importance of his labors in this class of cases will be apparent when we remember the character of the antagonists he had constantly to meet in forensic debate. It has always been the policy of the appointing power in this state to select able lawyers for prosecuting attorneys. The truth of this remark will be apparent when we recall the fact that during nearly all the thirty-seven years of Mr. Chapman's practice at the bar of this city, Isaac Toucey, Thomas C. Perkins, and Richard D. Hubbard, successively filled the office of State Attorney for this county. It was against such official accusers, furnished with every intellectual and professional resource, that he had to stand in defence of persons charged with crime. In the performance of this duty he was faithful in all things. I say duty, for the defence of persons accused of crime is a duty which the public cannot afford to see neglected or underrated. So tender and mindful is our law on the subject, that it not only discards the barbarous usage once prevailing in England, by which alleged criminals were denied counsel, but, if the accused is destitute, it is the duty of the court to assign him counsel. Whether originally employed by the defendant or assigned by the court, the path of the lawyer is plain. He is bound by the law itself to use, with honor and rectitude, every intellectual and professional weapon to the utmost of the ability which God and the law have given him, in defence of his client. This Charles Chapman did, and the faithful manner in which he performed this duty constitutes one of his highest titles to honor. He defended men only by the open use of the legitimate weapons of professional warfare. Some may have been acquitted who really deserved conviction. But it is idle to charge the lawyer who honorably and successfully defends an accused man, with wrongfully shielding the guilty. He interposes no shield but that which the law puts into his hands, and which is necessary for the proper defence of every defendant, whether innocent or guilty. The question before the triers is never that of absolute guilt, but whether upon the evidence presented in the court all reasonable doubt is excluded. No higher duty can devolve on the lawyer than to see to it that no man is convicted upon unworthy or insufficient evidence, for in doing so he preserves the only safeguard which innocence has against popular rage or official tyranny. Our deceased brother well understood this duty, and performed it with fearlessness and ability; often in behalf of the poor and friendless, without hope of reward.
Mr. Chapman won his distinction in competition with a large number of very able contemporaries. Such names as William Hungerford, Roger S. Baldwin, Ralph I. Ingersoll, Charles A. Ingersoll, Dennis Kimberly, Charles Hawley, Samuel Ingham, Charles J. McCurdy, William W. Ellsworth, Isaac Toucey, Henry Strong, Thomas C. Perkins, Henry Dutton, Francis Parsons, Martin Welles, and perhaps others that escape my recollection at this moment, will readily occur. I mention these because they spent their lives mostly at the bar, and the period of their practice covered nearly the same time as that of Mr. Chapman. With many of these great lawyers he was repeatedly associated, very often in civil causes of great importance. I think it is safe to say that for the last twenty-five years he has taken a prominent part in as many interesting trials as any member of the profession in the state. His masterly skill in the cross-examination of witnesses, his quick and comprehensive survey of the facts, his consummate ability in their presentation, especially to the jury, his racy, original and dramatic narrative, his intuitive knowledge of every corner of the human heart, and his entire devotion to the cause on trial, made him a welcome and valuable associate, and a formidable antagonist.
I should fail in my duty and in accurately conveying the sentiments of this bar did I omit to notice his kindness to his juniors. Both at the bar meeting and in private conversation the younger members of the bar have expressed themselves with grateful appreciation on this point. I can testify to his kindness to me in my early professional years, and to confidence reposed in me greater than I deserved.
In private life Mr. Chapman was an interesting and entertaining companion. With his never failing fund of anecdote and humor, his quaint, epigrammatic, incisive comments upon phases of character and incidents of daily life, and the usual gaiety of his temper, he threw a charm over the hours of relaxation. Though living to the age of seventy, his youthful tastes and feelings never forsook him. He loved his profession to the last. He relished the applause which success in that profession brought him. The love of distinction may be pronounced by the moralist an infirmity, but an austere genius has declared it to be
"The last infirmity of noble mind."
It undoubtedly is a powerful incentive to excellence, and, when seeking its triumphs in the fields of intellectual renown, it is, next to the spirit inculcated by Christianity, the most mighty agent in developing and nourishing those virtues which give dignity and ornament to human character.
With these remarks we submit our motion to the Honorable Court, and leave the name of Charles Chapman to be inscribed on what was impressively termed at our bar-meeting "the dead-roll of our profession" - a roll which has been fearfully lengthened during the last few years, as, one after another, our great legal lights have been eclipsed by that shadow which steadily advances and sooner or later falls across the path of every mortal.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 68, pages 596 - 597
CHARLES RICHARD CHAPMAN was born at New Haven. Connecticut, November 23d, 1827, and died at Hartford, Connecticut, January 25th, 1897. He was the son of Hon. Charles Chapman and Sarah Tomlinson, his wife, and the grandson of Hon. Asa Chapman, formerly a judge of the Supreme Court of Errors of this State. In 1829 his parents moved to Hartford, and there he continued to reside until his death. He graduated from Trinity College in 1847, studied law for a year in Northampton, Mass., and completed his legal studies in Now York in the office of John Van Buren, son of President Martin Van Buren. He was admitted to the bar of this State in 1850 and continued in the active practice of law until 1885, at first in partnership with his father, and later in partnership with the late Judge Collier.
He was a distinguished son of a distinguished ancestry. His grandfather, Hon. Asa Chapman, was a judge of the Supreme Court from May, 1818, until his death in 1825, and was recognized as a leading member of the court. His father, Hon. Charles Chapman, was one of the ablest lawyers this State has produced, and by his ability and wit left an impress on the history of the Connecticut bar which is practically unparalleled.
Charles R. Chapman was early recognized as a strong lawyer and a leader among his fellow-citizens. In 1856, at the age of twenty-nine, he was a member of the house of representative of this State. In 1857 he represented the first senatorial district in the State senate. He was mayor of the city of Hartford three terms, from 1866 to 1872. In 1872 he was again a member of the house of representatives. He was city attorney of the city of Hartford in 1874, 1875 and 1876, and postmaster from June, 1885 to March, 1890. He was a most conscientious public servant, and in every case filled the public positions to which he was called, to the full satisfaction of his fellow-citizens, as is evidenced by his continued call to public office during a period of over thirty years.
As a lawyer he was well equipped mentally, and by his careful and straight-forward method gained the highest confidence and respect both of his clients and of the members of the bar. On becoming postmaster in 1885 he gave up active professional practice and never resumed it. The last few years of his life were passed quietly in Hartford where he was a well known and much respected figure in the community. He had a most charming personality. He was loyal and upright in all his dealings. As a friend he was unswerving in his devotion. He could not be unjust or malevolent. He possessed the altogether rare gift of making many friends and no enemies. His record from the beginning to the end is unstained, and he will be remembered as one of those lawyers of the older school who honored their profession and the offices they held, by strict integrity and purity of purpose.
Mr. Chapman married May 1, 1855, Mrs. Harriet Putnam Thomas, daughter of Rt. Rev. Thomas Church Brownell, Episcopal Bishop of Hartford. Mrs. Chapman and four children, Mrs. Charles Holland of Torquay, England, Thomas Brownell Chapman of Hartford, Conn., Mrs. Howard Dudley Bean of New York City, and Robert Holland Chapman of Pittsburgh, Kansas, survive him.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter by William Waldo Hyde, Esq., of the Hartford County bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 213, pages 820 - 821
The Honorable Joseph J. Chernauskas, state trial referee, of Oxford, died November 11,1989, at the age of seventy-four.
Judge Chernauskas was born in Ansonia, where he graduated from Ansonia High School in 1933. After receiving his B.A. degree from Colby College in 1940, he enrolled in the Boston University School of Law, where he was awarded his L.L.B. degree in 1946. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar the following year.
Judge Chernauskas served as a judge of the City Court in Ansonia from 1951 to 1955 and was the clerk of the Circuit Court in Ansonia from 1961 to 1963 when he became a judge of the Circuit Court. He served as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas from 1974 to 1978, when he was elevated to the Superior Court. He became a state trial referee in 1985.
Judge Chernauskas was a member of St. Anthony's Church in Ansonia, American Legion Gordon Vasselli Post, the Valley and Connecticut Bar Associations, the Knights of Lithuania, Highland Golf Club, Valley Council Knights of Columbus and Oxford Senior Center. He was past president of the Ansonia Rotary Club, past president and board member of the Valley YMCA, a former Ansonia Republican Town Committee chairman and a World War II army veteran.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 47, pages 612 - 615
CALVIN GODDARD CHILD was born in Norwich, Conn., April 6th, 1834. He was a direct descendant of the noted divine, Dr. Joseph Bellamy, grandson of Judge Calvin Goddard, for whom he was named, and son of Hon. Asa Child, United States District Attorney for Connecticut under President Jackson. The family of Childe, from which he sprang, migrated from England to Roxbury, Mass., in 1630, and subsequently settled in Woodstock in this state. The summers of his boyhood were often spent in North Woodstock on the farm of his grandfather, Rensselaer Child, with great benefit to his then delicate constitution. He prepared for college at the University Grammar School in the city of New York. From that city he entered the Freshman class at Yale College, and was graduated in 1855 with a fair record as scholar and writer. After his graduation at the Harvard Law School in 1858 he practiced law in Norwich, Conn., until 1864, when he formed a law partnership with Thomas E. Stuart, Esq., in the city of New York, where he continued business until 1867, meanwhile residing at Southport in this state. In 1867 he removed to Stamford in this state, and entered into partnership with Joshua B. Ferris, Esq., a prominent member of the Fairfield County Bar. Samuel Fessenden, Esq., was also a member of the firm from 1870 to 1873, when it was dissolved. In May, 1862, Mr. Child was appointed Executive Secretary of Governor Buckingham, and in August following aid-de-camp on his staff. His active and untiring services during those troublous times, when all the energies of the state and its officials were taxed to the utmost, won the confidence and warm regard of the great war Governor. In 1870 he was appointed United States District Attorney for Connecticut, which office he held up to the time of his death. After his removal to Stamford he was much employed as counsel for the New York & New Haven Railroad Company, and his private practice was extensive and constantly increasing. The secret of his success was an open one. He was careful in his preparation of his cases, and skillful and eloquent in their presentation. "An easy and graceful speaker, his rhetoric was cultivated by extensive and careful reading, and enlivened by a ready flow of humor." He was thoroughly versed in the branches of law on which he was most engaged - corporation cases and suits for the United States Government. For criminal practice generally he had but little taste. He had no fondness for unduly straining doubtful bits of testimony against the accused. His extreme sensitivities made him, at times, in doubtful cases seem to lack grip and force; but when the nature of the case aroused him and justice was in danger of defeat he exerted himself with vigor and effect. While an officer of the Government he kept the record books, reports, and accounts, and all the minor details of the office, with scrupulous accuracy. He showed a remarkable aptitude in dealing with the many cases arising under the internal revenue laws - cases which usually and naturally excite friction and irritation. The Attorney had a happy way of doing the disagreeable part of the business so as to give the least possible offense. In all his official relations he upheld the honor and dignity of the Government, and while demanding for it all of its rights he used none of its powers to oppress or annoy. His word was sacred, and every one with whom he dealt recognized in him a courteous and upright representative of the United States. His whole career at the bar was characterized, as his brethren have put upon record, "by conscience devotion to his clients, courtesy to his brethren, fidelity to the court, and honor to himself." He was no fomenter of litigation. He had the distinctive characteristic - the sure mark of the honest lawyer, often so little considered by the lay world, but the crowning test with the members of his profession - he always insisted on a careful and critical examination of a client's case before suit, and if he had no case that should be litigated he told him so. His conspicuously fair and gentlemanly conduct of a case in court made the trial a pleasure alike to colleague and opponent. He promoted in various ways the elevation of professional standards, and the growth of associations, state and national, calculated to foster a high sense of professional honor. "As a citizen," says a townsman, "he was foremost in every good word and work, and held in high esteem throughout the entire community." His character, as a whole, was rounded by many qualities rarely united in the same person. Gentle in manner, inflexible in principle; intensely earnest, yet courteous to everybody; just, but always generous to a fault; scholarly and patrician in his tastes, while social in all his instincts; reverent, reserved, refined, while greatly given to hospitality and winning in his address; with no lack of dignity he had a certain perennial youthfulness of temperament and appearance that was in itself an inspiration. His was that brave, cheerful, elastic spirit, which, like the rare book of which the poet sings,
"Always finds us young
And always keeps us so."
He bore the physical disabilities of his later years, not only with serenity and fortitude, but with a boyish enthusiasm. His unfailing humor had the honey of wit without its sting. It was honey of the honeycomb, as graceful in form as it was graceful in flavor. A faithful officer, a good counselor, an accomplished advocate, it is not in these relations that his loss is most deeply felt. That gracious blending of nobleness and gentleness, manliness and tenderness, practical force and poetic fancy, and integrity almost austere, sweetened by the heartiest of good fellowship, made him the most charming of companions, and his home and home-life a delight to his guests, a benefactor to his neighbors. Everybody who knew him was his friend, and the rare thing about it was, that as the circle widened the stronger grew the attachment. His sympathy was inexhaustible. Never a sad heart came to him that did not go away comforted; never a suffering body that he was not ready to aid to the utmost of his ability.
His religious sentiment was persuasive, although by no means demonstrative. As his scholarship was without pedantry or ostentation, so his religion was free from bigotry, and of course from all traces of cant. A born Puritan he became the most catholic of Churchmen. He was a member of the Congregational church from 1850 to 1875, when he joined the Episcopal. His pastor thus bears testimony to his usefulness in the latter church. "Few men in so short a public church life acquired so much consideration and influence. The conscientious attention which his trained legal mind had already given to the constitution and laws of the church, and to the special subjects which are now up for consideration, especially the tenure of church property, gave great promise of usefulness."
In March, 1880, he was stricken with apoplexy, and after another attack at Saratoga in the following August he failed steadily until his death, which occurred on September 28th, 1880. He married, in 1858, Miss Kate Godfrey of Southport, who with a family of four children survives him. His loving interest in his friends, far and near, lasted as long as his mental consciousness, and when his memory had failed him on all other subjects. To many of those friends thinking over his bright career, before almost unclouded, and so suddenly eclipsed at mid-day, may recur (as it has to one of them) the noble threnody of his favorite author, commemorative of another gentle and not more royal soul -
"Who reverenced his conscience as his king.
Wearing the white flower of blameless life."
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by Lyman D. Brewster, Esq., of the Fairfield County Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 19, pages 524 - 526
This [Harwinton v. Catlin] was the last of several cases argued at this term [Supreme Court of Errors, 1848-1849 term], in which Leman Church, Esq., was originally concerned, and in which he would have appeared as counsel before this court, had his life and health been preserved. But he died, at Canaan, July 9th, 1849, about three weeks before the commencement of the term.
He was the third son of Nathaniel Church, Esq., of Salisbury, in this state, and a younger brother of the Hon. Samuel Church, the present Chief Justice. He was a lineal descendant, in the sixth generation, of Richard Church, one of the first settlers of Hartford. He was born at Salisbury, in the year 1794. His early literary advantages were chiefly confined to the district schools and public libraries of his native town. There are few better English scholars than he was. He was also a proficient in mathematical studies.
In the spring of 1813, he commenced the study of law, in the office of his brother above-mentioned, with whom he continued, a most diligent and ambitious student, until he joined the law school in Litchfield, where he continued until he was admitted to the bar.
He soon afterwards opened his office in Canaan, where he remained until his death. Few young men have commenced professional life under so many disadvantages. It was, at that time, a most unpromising field. He was without friends or patronage; and was, for some years, subjected to a bitter opposition, which few men beside himself could have met and overcome. But opposition stimulated his efforts, and he was determined to succeed. When not absent on business, he was always to be found at his office, and at his books, although he had but few of them. Places of public resort or amusement, had no attractions for him.
For some years of the early part of his practice, he was in the habit of preparing all his causes for trial, with great care - those even in a justice's court, as well as in the higher tribunals. He always understood his adversary's case, and was seldom taken by surprise. Another peculiarity of his early practice, was, always to attend the courts in his county; and it was remarked of him, that he was the first in the court-house, at the commencement of a term, and the last to leave it; regardless too, whether his business would pay his expenses or not. He often remarked, that this was the great secret of his success; and that a young lawyer, who was not a constant observer of the business of the courts, would never succeed.
He read but few elementary books of his profession; Coke on Littleton, Blackstone's Commentaries and Chilly on Pleadings furnishing nearly the whole. But reported cases he studied with great care, and always read them with his pen in his hand, treasuring up every principle worthy of preservation, involved in them. In this way, he laid the foundation of his subsequent distinction as a lawyer. For several years before his death, he was engaged in a very laborious and extended practice, equal perhaps to that of any other lawyer in his county.
His habits of thought were intense, and often oppressive, so that he resorted much to novel-reading, as he said, "to stop thinking."
As a public speaker, he was fluent and perspicuous. Of all advocates, he was apparently the least dependent upon preparation. He seemed to throw out his thoughts, without premeditation. His unadorned diction and inartificial method certainly bore no marks of study. And yet, as already suggested, he was a diligent student, and habitually prepared his causes in the most thorough manner. His peculiarities resulted, primarily, from the original cast of his mind; but they were probably cherished from choice. He chose to appear to be, what nature had made him. He never appealed to the passions, in his addresses. He sometimes indulged in wit, or pleasantry, but generally confined his efforts to close argumentation. The severity of an adversary never disturbed him; but when he had a debt of this sort to pay, his retorts were severe and withering. In his professional consultations and advice, he was frank, and never concealed from his clients the difficulties in their way. He therefore bore defeat, and prepared them to bear it, with great composure.
He despised all appearance of foppery, and could hardly conceal his contempt of those who indulged in it. It is not surprising, therefore, that in his personal appearance, his dress and equipage, he was negligent - perhaps even to a fault.
His integrity of purpose appeared in all that he did; and nothing could divert him from what appeared to be his duty. To the court he was always respectful. Though often familiar and sometimes jocose, he was careful never to give offence, but was, on the contrary, a favourite with the judges. To his professional brethren he was courteous and kind.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, appendix page 24
Born at Salisbury, in this State, February 4th, 1785; educated at Yale-College, where he graduated in 1803; commenced his professional studies, in the spring of 1804, with Judson Canfield, Esq. of Sharon, and remained in his office about a year; then attended the law lectures of Judge Reeve and Judge Gould, at Litchfield, until Sept. 1806; when he was admitted to the bar of the county of Litchfield. In June 1807, he was examined and admitted to the bar of the supreme court of the State of Ohio, to which State he, at that time, contemplated a removal. In the spring of 1808, he commenced the practice of the law in Salisbury, in which town he has ever since resided. In May, 1810, he was appointed, by the Hon. Gideon Granger, Post-master general, to the office of deputy-post-master in that town; which office he retained until the spring of 1820, when he resigned it, upon being elected a member of the General Assembly. He was member of the convention which formed the constitution of this State, it 1818. He was a representative of the town of Salisbury, in the General Assembly, in the years 1821, 1823, 1824, 1829 and 1831; being first clerk of the house in 1823. He was a member of the senate of this State, in the years 1825, 1826 and 1827. In May 1821, he was appointed judge of probate for the district of Sharon; and in 1823, he succeeded Seth P. Beers, Esq. in the office of State's Attorney for the county of Litchfield. These offices he continued to hold until May 1832, when he resigned them, and accepted the office of an associate judge of the superior court and supreme court of errors, to which he was then appointed, to fill the vacancy to take place an the 10th of January, 1833, by the promotion of Judge Daggett to the office of Chief Justice.
It is a source of gratification and pride to the subject of this notice, that during his political life, he never opposed the appointment to office, by the General Assembly, of any man, in consequence of the political opposition of the candidate to himself, or the party to which he was attached.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 23, pages 665 - 668
The Hon. SAMUEL CHURCH, Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Errors, died on the 13th day of September, 1854.
A brief biographical sketch of his early life, and public services, will be found, appended to the fourteenth volume of the Connecticut Reports.
In May, 1832, he was appointed, by the General Assembly, an Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of Errors, and in May, 1847, Chief Judge of the same court.
Not one of the several places of honor and trust conferred on him, was so conferred at his solicitation. The high and important public duties, entrusted to him by his fellow-citizens, were discharged with the purest motives, and an earnest desire to administer justice. No other Judge, with the exception of Judge Wadsworth, who was appointed in 1725, and retired in 1752, and Judge Dyer, who was appointed in 1766, and retired in 1789, ever held, for so long a period, the office of Judge of the Supreme Court of the State. His written opinions commence in Vol. Ix. of the Connecticut Reports, and extend to Vol. xxii., inclusive.
He was ardently attached to his profession. Regarding the law as a science, he gave authority to principles, rather than a multiplicity of cases. Established in a position, where access to large law libraries was often impossible, he had collected a select, and extensive one for himself, every volume of which he carefully studied, and possessing a remarkably retentive memory, he was enabled to refer to the cases, and the principles therein embodied, with great advantage.
As a legal practitioner, he was remarkable for the care with which he prepared his cases for trial, seldom, if ever, attempting to argue one, before he had studied its every point, and drawn up a complete outline of his course of argument. With a large country practice, often extending onto the neighboring states of New York and Massachusetts, he seldom failed to meet an engagement.
In his habits of life, he was regular, and untiringly industrious. To his perseverance, industry, and punctuality, he owed his elevation to a position of respectability and honor. Retiring in his manners, rather averse to general society, or to forming the acquaintance of strangers, he was genial and sociable with his personal friends. To his own family, he was devoted, and with them, his kindness knew no limits.
His religious opinions were well known. An earnest and sincere member of the Protestant Episcopal Church, he loved the Christian character wherever found, and under whatever name. He made no display of his religious feelings or belief; but a strict performance of his religious duties, in which he regarded all others as included, was the great object of his life.
For many years, previous to his final illness, his health was, at times, imperfect, and many of his official duties were performed, while enduring intense suffering, but his appointments were punctually kept, often against advice and remonstration of physicians and friends. His last judicial opinions were written, a few weeks before his death, amid severe suffering, and when scarcely able to sit at his desk.
The Bar of Litchfield County, on the 8th of November, succeeding the death of Judge Church, convened and adopted the following resolutions:
Resolved, That we cherish with profound respect, the memory of the Honorable SAMUEL CHURCH, late Chief Justice of the Superior Court of this state, and deplore the dispensation of divine Providence, which has removed him from his official station, and from all earthly relations.
Resolved, That in view of the fact, that among us was his birth-place and that here his character was formed; that, before us, has been exhibited his long career of spotless professional integrity, and able and useful official duty, we are penetrated with a profound sense of loss which this Bar, and the people of this state, have sustained in his death.
Resolved, That although we are thus afflicted, we are consoled by the assurance, that he was well prepared to enter upon his changeless destiny, and that he died in the calmness of Christian confidence, and the serenity of Christian hope.
Resolved, That the Superior Court be requested to ensure these proceedings to be entered upon its records, and a copy of them furnished the family of Judge Church.
These resolutions were presented to the Court by CHARLES SEDGWICK, Esq., who spoke as follows:
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR HONOR:
I move, at the instance of the Bar, that the order prayed for in the last resolution, be adopted by this Court. In this county, where Judge Church was born, where he always had his home, and where his remains repose, and in this Court, where, in former years, he won a distinguished reputation, as a lawyer, and where, in later years he presided with so much ability, as a judge, it is peculiarly proper, that the testimony, which shows in what estimation he was held by his contemporaries, should be perpetuated.
When I first knew him, forty years ago, he was a young, active, ambitious lawyer, just entered upon a career of successful practice, and yet so far advanced in it, that important interests were committed to his charge, and important cases to his management; nor did any one, to my knowledge, ever complain of a want of fidelity in him, for the discharge of every professional duty. After a service of twelve years, as State's Attorney for this county, he received the appointment of Judge of this Court. It is believed, by those who knew him best, that he possessed elements of character, which eminently fitted him for that position; and those who have lived to witness his whole career, are happy in the belief that their expectations of him have not been disappointed. He lived to a good age, and died with his armor on. I believe it is the first instance, in which a Chief Judge of this Court has died in office. If the fact is otherwise, the event must have occurred at a very early period of our judicial history.
For many of the last years of his life, the religious element of his character was very conspicuous. He loved to converse on serious subjects, and those who have been intimately acquainted with him, were aware, that he had made himself familiar with those amazing solemnities, which invest the future destiny of every human being. In the last conversation I had with him, he spoke of the approaching termination of his official labors, and of the probability he should not long survive; saying, "as the circle of friends here is constantly growing smaller, and the circle there," pointing upwards, "is constantly growing larger, I am ready to go, whenever the summons shall come to call me away." These were the last words I ever heard him utter. The next time I heard of him he had passed away.
"Multis ille bonis flebilis, occidit."
He has gone to the "land of silence," as if to admonish us all, and especially those of us, around whom the shadows of life's evening are gathering, that in the midst of life, we are in death; and that even virtue and benevolence can oppose, successfully, no shield to the shaft of the great destroyer. He sleeps in the beautiful township of his nativity, and in a spot of earth selected, by himself, for his own burial-place, but a very few days before he was summoned to its occupancy; and though deep are the slumbers that rest upon his mortal remains, and "low is the pillow of dust," on which his venerable head reclines, yet green be the turf above his resting-place, and green in our hearts, the undying memory of his useful public services, and his eminent private worth.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 9, page iii
Appointed in May, 1833, to be Associate Judge from and after January 10th, 1833.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 18, page iii
Appointed Chief Justice, May, 1847.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 23, page iii
Died September 13th, 1854.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 228, page 934
1904 - 1993
The Honorable Michael A. Ciano, state trial referee, died December 13, 1993, at the age of eighty-nine.
Judge Ciano was born February 11, 1904, in Schenectady, New York, son of the late Antonio and Anna (DeFeo) Ciano. He moved to Waterbury as a youth, where he attended Crosby High School. He graduated from Clark University in 1924. Judge Ciano was an outstanding athlete and played center on the Clark basketball team.
Judge Ciano attended Harvard Law School, but completed his law studies at the law office of Mascolo, McKnight and Dauch. He was one of the last attorneys allowed to practice after having studied law in a law office and passing the bar examination. From 1936 until he became a full-time Circuit Court judge in 1961, he practiced law in Waterbury. In 1955, he was named a Waterbury City Court judge. Judge Ciano became a Circuit Court judge when that court was founded. "He was the greatest of the forty-four," said Judge Francis J. O'Brien, a state trial referee, who, like Judge Ciano, had one of the forty-four original appointments to that court. Judge Ciano later served as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and at the time of his death, he was a state trial referee.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 127, pages 728 - 729
Walter Haven Clark, whose death occurred October 20, 1939, was born January 20, 1872, the son of Mahlon Newcomb and Mary Alice (Haven) Clark. On his father's side he was descended from William Clark, one of the original proprietors of Northampton, Massachusetts, and from the latter's son, William, an early settler of Lebanon, Connecticut; and on his mother's side he was descended from Richard Haven, who settled at Lynn, Massachusetts, about 1644.
Judge Clark received his preliminary education in the public schools of Hartford, graduating from the Arsenal School, and from the Hartford Public High School with the class of 1892. Entering Yale with the class of 1896, one of his principal interests was debating and he was on the first Yale team to win a debate with Harvard. He was also president of the Yale Union and of Phi Beta Kappa. He graduated from the Yale Law School with the class of 1899, having been admitted to the bar in 1898 in his second year at the Law School. During his last year he was also practicing in the office of Bristol, Stoddard and Bristol, of New Haven.
From 1900-1903 he was instructor of economic debate at Yale. In 1900 he was elected to the court of common council of the city of Hartford, becoming it president in 1903. In 1902 he married Julia Ellen, daughter of Judge George S. Gilman. They had two children: Eleanor Mary (Mrs. Osborne Earle), and Dorothy Gilman (Mrs. William O. Thomson). In 1905 he represented Hartford in the General Assembly where he was a member of the judiciary committee. From 1903 to 1908 he was associate judge of the Hartford Police Court and in the succeeding five years was a judge of the court.
Early in 1917 he was a member of the governor's special commission for the military census and became chairman of the registration board, and was chairman of the draft board No. 2 of Hartford from 1917 to 1918. Until 1921 he practiced law with William A. Arnold, Yale '96, his law school roommate and lifelong friend, under the firm name of Clark and Arnold. In 1921 he received the Republican nomination and was elected judge of probate for the district of Hartford after a strenuous contest, an office which he held continuously until his resignation in January, 1939. In 1930 he was appointed by the governor as one of a committee of three to investigate conditions at the state prison. For the ten years preceding 1931 he was a member of the grievance committee of the Hartford County bar and from 1920 to 1936 a commissioner of the state department of public welfare, for the last three years of which term he was president of the board. Judge Clark was a trustee of the State Savings Bank of Hartford, of the Hartford Seminary Foundation, the Hartford Public Library and Long Lane Farm.
Never of a too robust constitution, his life of wide activity was made possible by the devoted care and intellectual sympathy of his wife. Walter Clark was that uncommon combination: a graceful and withal a forceful speaker, and his services before committees of the legislature in public causes were in great demand. He had the attributes of the traditional judge: impartiality, integrity, learning, wisdom and the judicial mind; a command of perfect English combined with homely phrase, and deep sense of humour, having an endless list of stories to illumine the discussions of which he was fond, and when the discussions were in intimate circles the stories were of a homely, earthy quality.
His reputation for compassion and fairness sometimes singled him out for special pressure which brought into relief the firmness underlying that gentle exterior. With no striving for popularity and without any arts of the politician the manifest rectitude of the man and his kindness made him universally beloved, so signally indicated by the great pluralities which he received at every contested election - elections in which he took little part except for the example of his steady devotion to the business of the office. The faculty of making and holding friends he had in the highest degree, and while he enjoyed the loyalty of a wide group extending to all walks of life and beyond the limits of community or state, he had the complete affection of a small group of friends whose only mutual bond was himself, and who otherwise unrelated gave to him and received from him the utmost devotion. The example of his daily life was an ennobling influence in his community and with him passed a vital part of the era in which he lived.
*Prepared by Charles A. Goodwin, of the Hartford Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 57, pages 589 - 590
CHAUNCEY FITCH CLEVELAND, for many years a prominent member of the bar of Windham County and a leading citizen of the state, died at Hampton in that county, where he had resided most of his life, on the 6th day of June, 1887, in the eighty-eighth year of his age. He was born in the neighboring town of Canterbury in the year 1799.
After an ordinary education in our public schools he studied law, and was admitted to the bar of Windham County in 1819. In 1833 he was appointed State's Attorney for the county and held the office until 1838. He represented the town of Hampton in the lower house of the General Assembly in the years 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1832, 1835, 1836, 1838, 1847 and 1848, and was Speaker of the House in 1835 and 1836. He was elected Governor of the state by the Democratic party in 1842, and again in 1843. In 1849 he was elected to Congress by that party and re-elected in 1851. Previous to the breaking out of the recent civil war he had joined the Republican party in its contest with the slave power, and was a strong supporter of the government during the war, and for several years thereafter he acted with that party. He was a Presidential Elector on the Republican ticket in 1860, and was a member of the Peace Congress of 1861.
As a lawyer Gov. Cleveland was never a close student of books, but was very successful as an advocate before juries. He was a shrewd judge of character, and knew personally almost every man in his county, and was able to adapt his address to the mental habits or prepossessions of the individual jurors. His success before judges brought him a considerable business in court and gave him a leading position among the advocates of his county.
But it was mainly as a public man that he was known beyond his own county, and his tastes and ambition lay far more in the direction of political than of professional life. He was a man of commanding personal appearance, yet of gentle and courteous manners. He was the most popular man in his county, if not in the state - a popularity owing in large measure to a genuine good nature, which found pleasure in kindly greetings and took an interest in the welfare of those whom he knew. Those who were so fortunate as to have him for a personal friend, found him a true and abiding one.
He was very happy in his domestic relations, though he was deeply afflicted by bereavements. He married Diantha Hovey, by whom he had a son and daughter, both of whom died soon after reaching maturity, his wife dying in 1867. In 1869 he married as a second wife Helen L. Litchfield, who survives him.
*Prepared by John J. Penrose, Esq., of the Windham County bar, at the request of the bar of the county.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 209, page 832
1933 - 1988
The Honorable Thomas D. Clifford of West Hartford, Connecticut's first public defender for federal courts, died on December 8, 1988.
A graduate of Fordham University and the Georgetown University Law School, Judge Clifford was appointed the state's first federal public defender in December, 1971. He resigned from that position in March, 1975, to engage in the private practice of law. From 1985 to 1986, he was staff counsel for the General Assembly's special criminal justice committee.
Judge Clifford was appointed to the bench in October, 1987. During his first year as a Superior Court judge, he was named presiding judge of geographical area number twelve in Manchester. He served in that capacity until the time of his death.
He was a board member and current chairman of the Justice Education Center in Hartford and director of the choir at the Church of St. Timothy in West Hartford.
Judge Clifford is survived by his wife, Patricia McGowan Clifford; his mother, Mary Dowling Clifford; two sons, Thomas R. Clifford and Timothy J. Clifford; and a sister, Margaret Mary Westbay.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 135, pages 723 - 725
In every generation of lawyers there are those who gain positions of eminence in their profession. Occasionally a lawyer distinguishes himself for accomplishment in fields other than the law. Rarely does a lawyer attain genuine and lasting distinction in several different fields of activity. George H. Cohen attained that rare distinction.**
George H. Cohen was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, February 5, 1892. In his youth his family moved to Hartford where he attended the public schools. He graduated from the Hartford Public High School and from Trinity College in 1911, completing the four-year course in three years. He received the M.A. degree from Yale in 1912 and the Ph.D. degree in 1914. He was graduated from the Yale Law School in 1917. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Mu Sigma. At 22, he was the youngest man ever to attain the degree of doctor of philosophy at Yale University. President Arthur T. Hadley of Yale once described Dr. Cohen as "one of the keenest students we have ever had in any of our graduate schools."
Dr. Cohen was a gifted and distinguished linguist. He became the master of some eighteen languages. His early proficiency as a linguist was such that following his graduation from law school he was called to Washington by the state department. He left the state department to enlist in the army in November, 1917, and served throughout the war, working his way up through the ranks.
At the conclusion of the war Dr. Cohen returned to Hartford, where he became assistant United States district attorney, an office which he occupied until 1934, when he became, for a brief time, Untied States district attorney. Meantime, Dr. Cohen had established himself in private practice, a field in which he had wide and successful experience in litigating important civil matters.
During his seventeen years' service in the office of the district attorney at Hartford Dr. Cohen became recognized as one of the nation's leading authorities on federal practice and procedure. He wrote extensively on this as on many other subjects and was a popular and forceful public speaker. Meanwhile, he successfully handled countless important cases for the government. The administration of his office was characterized by a humaneness and a fairness which made him beloved by counsel, litigants and bench alike.
Dr. Cohen was possessed of boundless energy. While leading a vigorous professional life, he constantly utilized and maintained his interest in languages and yet devoted himself to his several hobbies. He was an active collector of stamps and of coins. He maintained a keen and aggressive interest in political affairs. He contributed generously to periodicals and was editor of the Connecticut State Bar Journal from 1935 to 1944. In addition, he edited for over three and a half years the Hebrew Record, an English weekly which he founded and which later was absorbed by the Jewish Advocate published in Boston. He was active as a member of the American, State and Hartford County Bar Associations, the American Numismatic Association, the American Philological Association, the American Jewish Publication Society, the Connecticut Historical Society, the Hartford Zionist District and the Hartford Lodge No. 88 AF and AM. He was secretary of the South End Bank and Trust Company and a member of the Congregation Ados Israel and B'nai' B'rith.
Dr. Cohen was married to Miss Pauline Kaufman, of Hartford, in August, 1931. He was always a thoughtful and devoted husband. Surviving are his wife, his aged mother and two brothers, Attorneys Naaman Cohen and Louis S. Cohen, both of Hartford.
Linguist, scholar, author, lawyer - but with all that, a modest and unpretentious and thoroughly genuine man. He mingled his brilliance with an unusually keen sense of humor and a sensitive nature in a most engaging way. He was a warm and friendly man. He was as tireless in his attack upon those whom he believed dishonest as upon causes which he believed unjust. His devotion to his chosen profession was matched only by his reverence for our courts and our system of equal justice for all. His generosity and his patience and his ever-present fairness were characteristics which grew with the years. His service as a lawyer was not only to his clients, it was likewise to the bar as a whole and, in a unique measure, to his state and nation. His memory will live in the hearts of countless clients and friends.
*Prepared by Hugh M. Alcorn, Jr., of the Hartford bar.
**Mr. Cohen died February 23, 1949.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 66, pages 603 - 604
CHARLES JAMES COLE, the third and youngest son of Abner and Eliza Brown Cole, was born at Chatham, Connecticut, June 19th, 1839, and died at Norfolk in this State on the 16th day of August, 1895. The year after his birth the family moved to Cromwell, and there his boyhood and youth were passed, in close fellowship with the woods and fields and streams, an association which developed an ardent love for, and confidence in, nature.
He was a quiet, persistent, unflinching, delicate child, who made no allowance for physical weakness which would have handicapped most children - of indomitable courage and industry, in play, as in work, thoroughly in earnest.
At the little country school house very near the farm, his early school days were passed, and in 1854 he was sent to a school in East Berlin, of which Professor C. F. Dowd was at that time the principal, where he attended for several years. He afterwards went to Mr. Chase's preparatory school in Middletown, until 1860 - entering the Harvard Law School the following year, and coming to Hartford immediately after his graduation in 1863. At school he displayed marked ability, and the rapidity with which a text-book was taken up and learned was not regulated by the ordinary limitations of school work; interest never flagged until the whole subject was mastered.
By nature intense, nervous and so diffident that he felt it a physical impossibility to speak a piece before the school, his resolute will gained a self-control which many believed was due to a phlegmatic disposition.
He married in 1880 Elisabeth Adams Huntington, who, with the eldest three of their five children, survive him.
The following minute prepared by one [Hon. Henry C. Robinson] who knew and admired his sterling qualities, gives so faithful and discriminating an analysis of Mr. Cole's character, that its reproduction here is altogether appropriate.
"In the death of Charles J. Cole the bar loses a unique and eminent representative. The professional success which he attained was earned, and owed little to fortunate circumstances. Coming from the law school with few friends in the circle of business, he commenced practice alone, and through all the busy years of his professional life fulfilled his engagements without the assistance of a partner, and died in the fullness of strength, carrying as large responsibilities as are often thrown upon an individual lawyer.
"He was naturally, as well as by education, fitted for the law. A thorough, close, and logical reasoner, his early absorption of the underlying principles of jurisprudence was a foundation of solid masonry, for the study, observations, and experience of an active practice. He carried to a high degree the power of convincing statement. He gave little attention to the graces of oratory, but in clear, direct, and forcible words he easily and effectively possessed and convinced the mind of a trier. He shrunk from the study and comprehension of no problem, however complicated or abstruse. With little use of what we call imagination, his resources in analogy and in original thought, unlearned in the books, were many and manifold. In his preparation for trials he was thorough and tactful; in examining, and especially in cross-examining, witnesses, he was masterly. In the play of humor, which was both dry and grim, he had no superior. But in the treatment of witnesses, if he was unsurpassed in disclosing ignorance and deceit, he avoided the manners of brutality and bullying, which are so often the temptation and disgrace of the lawyer who aims at distinction in the perilous path of cross-examination.
"As a counselor Mr. Cole was wise and judicious. And here he often showed a tenderness which his unostentatious nature usually concealed.
"His force of will, self reliance and courage, were more than uncommon. Into whatever duty he entered, he threw his strong personality. He never failed where he ought to have succeeded. He feared no antagonist; he was unfaithful to no client.
"For insincerity, duplicity and sham, he had profound contempt, which often found caustic expression. He declined the highest judicial honors, because he thought his outfit better for the bar; the practice of the profession was more to his taste, and while equally honorable, yielded larger profit.
"He loved nature, and the ancestral acres were pleasant to him, and on them he enjoyed many days of comfort and happiness with his interesting family.
"While averse to public office, his views upon all public matters were written in the lines of well defined convictions, and when it was his duty to express them they were declared in strong words whose meaning was clear. He used no Delphic utterances in his responses.
"Personally he had a side of geniality and sociality, which had to be discovered, but when found was stimulating and refreshing.
"His physical constitution was slender, and he bore it through many a trial by his determined courage and tireless will, but he fell at the last under burdens beyond his strength, and the community is shocked at the loss of an honest, noble citizen, whose counsel in the seats of business and public life were valuable, and the bar mourns at the grave of a distinguished and successful leader cut down when his wisdom was ripest, and his capacity for honorable service was complete."
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 52, pages 598 - 600
GOODWIN COLLIER was the son of William and Harriet Collier, born at Hartford, March 3d, 1829. He died suddenly of heart disease October 27th, 1885.
He was descended from William Collier of Plymouth Colony, who came to New England in 1633, and who was a Commissioner of the United Colonies in 1643. His son Joseph Collier was the first of the name in Connecticut. He lived in Hartford in 1668, and his descendants have been well known and respected there.
Judge Collier's early education was at the Albany Academy. He left that school at the age of thirteen years, fully qualified to enter Trinity College: but the rules of the college did not allow of the admission of one so young, and he continued his studies under the late Nicholas Harris, until his fifteenth year, when he entered the Sophomore class at Trinity, at its second term. After leaving college he studied law for about two years in the office of Dean & Newland at Albany, and then returned to Hartford and entered the law office of the late Charles Chapman, with whom he studied for a year, when he was admitted, at the age of twenty-one, to the Hartford County bar. He was afterwards successively recorder of the city court of Hartford and judge of the police court. He was also at one time a clerk of the county court. He was for several years a partner in the practice of law with Hon. William W. Eaton. He went west in 1866, and returned to Hartford in 1871, when he entered into partnership with Charles R. Chapman, Esq., which relation continued until about two years ago, since which time he has had an office alone. He was never married.
Judge Collier had natural endowments of a high order. His personal appearance, while not imposing, bespoke him a man of ability. He was of medium height, had a dark complexion, straight black hair, large dark eyes, and prominent forehead. There was an unassuming dignity and manly port in all his actions which indicated the possession of a good deal of power in repose and stamped him as one of nature's noblemen. His mind was clear, discriminating and acute, so that he readily saw the real merits in any controversy. His moral perceptions were keen, and led him to be intolerant of injustice in whatever guise it might appear, and quickly to discern the true from the false. He had a calm decision of character that gave authority to his words and won unquestioning respect for his opinions. His memory was wonderfully tenacious, so that he seemed able to call to mind at will any fact or incident that had ever come within his knowledge. His reading and acquirements were extensive, and his general information appeared to be almost encyclopedic. This made him a most suggestive and entertaining conversationalist, and enabled him to give a ready answer to almost any question. So well was this understood among his immediate professional friends, that when any debatable point arose in conversation which could not be readily solved, the common expression was - "Ask Collier," and his opinion generally settled the matter. In social life he was chivalrous and deferential to the other sex, sunny and genial to his friends, and had a kindness of heart which was peculiarly manifested in a fondness for children, who in return prized his friendship with childhood's unerring instincts, and now mourn his death as a personal loss.
He had a love of music that was almost a passion, and he became an expert in the theory and science of music, and a recognized authority and critic in the art of singing and performing upon musical instruments. In his early life he was offered an appointment as a cadet in the navy, but the position was declined, much to his regret. He always kept up his interest however in that branch of the government service, its commanders and vessels, and could discuss the lines of a ship with the familiar knowledge of one bred to the sea.
In his chosen profession he excelled in a knowledge of the principles of the law, and in the power to make a philosophic application of those principles to the solution of whatever legal problem he might have in hand, and to seize the salient points of which a case might hinge. He was pre-eminently a pleader and draftsman, and could accurately draw a difficult declaration or plea without reference to a form book. It was a pleasure to try a case before him as a judge or committee because he had that judicial mind, sound judgment and strict impartiality and integrity so essential to a good judge. His fitness for the bench was eminent and acknowledged.
He was well read in ecclesiastical history, and in friendly discussions of a theological character was wont to take the conservative and orthodox side. He always treated sacred subjects with marked respect. For many years he had a seat in the St. John's Episcopal church, in Hartford, to which denomination he belonged. His father died suddenly, like himself, of heart disease, and he was conscious of the family weakness. He had said he did not expect to live to be an old man. Perhaps on this account he refrained from the exciting contests of a more aggressive life. Had he possessed less modesty and more force he would have gained that leadership among men for which he was so well qualified. His sudden death ended the career of a brilliant man.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter by Roger Welles, Esq., of the Hartford bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 179, pages 771 - 772
John Munson Comley, an associate justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on July 1, 1895. His father, Judge William Henry Comley, Sr., had come to Bridgeport from his native England in the late 1860s. He married Lucy Nicholson. John was the youngest of their five children. After William Henry Comley, Sr., had married and while he was employed in a Bridgeport industry, he had studied law, was admitted to the Connecticut bar and became one of the leaders in Fairfield County, serving at one time as judge of the City Court.
John attended the Bridgeport public schools. He was an excellent student. He entered Yale College where after three years and a year in law school he obtained a B.A. degree and for his scholarship was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the national honor society. He had received a permanent injury to his arm when a boy, but nevertheless he volunteered for service in World War I and served as a sergeant in the quartermaster corps. After the war he returned to Yale, completed his course of studies and was graduated from the Yale Law School in 1920. In college and law school he was a diligent student and was elected to the editorial board of the Yale Law Journal.
John's older brothers, William H. Comley, Jr., and Arthur M. Comley, both Yale College and Yale Law School graduates, had practiced law in Bridgeport with their father until he died in 1917. In 1919 the two older Comley brothers formed a law partnership with John S. Pullman. John Comley joined the firm as an associate after his graduation from law school. The law firm, Pullman and Comley, became an acknowledged leader at the Fairfield County bar. William H. Comley, Jr., was appointed state's attorney for Fairfield County in 1924, succeeding the late Homer Cummings, who subsequently became the attorney general of the United States. William Comley served with great ability as state's attorney until his retirement from that office in 1937. In 1939 he was appointed a judge of the Superior Court. The law firm continues to this day as Pullman, Comley, Bradley and Reeves. Frederick L. Comley. son of William H. Comley, Jr., is presently the senior partner.
John Comley was an able and active lawyer. He had a keen and well-stocked legal mind. In 1924 George W. Wheeler, then chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court asked John to become the reporter of judicial decisions. He accepted, succeeding the late James P. Andrews, who had held that important post for a good many years. John served until 1929, when he was asked to become a member of the Stamford law firm of Durey and Pierson, the firm name becoming Durey, Pierson and Comley. The following years while John remained in practice were the most active years of his life. He was not only extremely busy as a lawyer but in other activities as well: an editor of the Connecticut Bar Journal; a member of the American Law Institute; a director on the board of the Stamford Hospital, the Stamford Water Company, and the First National Bank and Trust Co. of Stamford; and a member of the State Bar Examining Committee and the State Judicial Council.
When Judge William H. Comley, Jr., reached the age of retirement from the Superior Court on October 12, 1945, John was appointed to the Superior Court to succeed him. On August 31, 1963, John became an associate justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. He retired on July 1, 1965, upon reaching the constitutional retirement age of seventy. He served several years as an active state trial referee until illness made his complete retirement necessary. He died on December 14, 1974, at age seventy-nine.
John Comley married Grace Aufford of Stratford in 1925. Two children were born of this marriage: a daughter, Mrs. Richard Philbrick, and a son, John M. Comley, Jr., both of Barrington, R.I. Grace died in 1933. John subsequently married the former Frances Bruggerhof of Stamford. Besides his wife and children, John at his death was survived by a sister, Mrs. Hubert Provost of Fairfield; a nephew, Frederick L. Comley; and five grandchildren.
John Comley was exceptionally well qualified to serve as a judge in our courts. His experience in general practice with two law firms and as reporter of judicial decisions for the state's highest appellate court had given him the opportunity of obtaining a broad knowledge of fundamental law and court procedure. As a judge, John grasped very quickly the fundamental issues of a case and the rules of law applicable thereto. He never, however, attempted to display his broad legal knowledge or by reason thereof to interfere in the conduct of a trial by counsel. As a judge he was an excellent listener. His memoranda of decisions and his charges to juries were prepared well and are models of those particular arts.
Judge Comley's personality was warm and friendly. He had a keen sense of humor. When off the bench and among his brethren on the bench and at the bar he was accounted a keen wit. His record as a trial lawyer and on the bench ranked high in his chosen profession. He will be long remembered as a good lawyer and an excellent trial and appellate judge.
*Prepared by Hon. Raymond E. Baldwin, of Middletown.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 151, page iii
Appointed to the Supreme Court May 29, 1963, to take effect August 31, 1963.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 153, page iii
Retired July 1, 1965, under constitutional limitation as to age.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 143, pages 740 - 742
The career of William H. Comley as lawyer, state's attorney, judge of the Superior Court and state referee was pre-eminent in the history of this state. He was regarded by his contemporaries through the years as a leader of the Connecticut bar. He won this distinction by his broad knowledge of the law, his strong, positive character, and the rich human quality of his life.
Judge Comley was born in Bridgeport on October 12, 1875, the son of William H. and Lucy Nicholson Comley. He attended the public schools and was graduated from Yale College in 1897 and the Yale Law School in 1899. He was always an excellent student. After admission to the bar, he joined his father in the law firm of Comley and Comley in Bridgeport. This partnership included later a younger brother, Arthur M. Comley, and lasted, after the father's death, until 1919. In that year Judge Comley and his brother Arthur formed a partnership with Judge John S. Pullman under the name of Pullman and Comley. This association continued for twenty years until Judge Comley's appointment to the Superior Court bench in 1939. There were added to it during those years W. Parker Seeley, Raymond B. Baldwin, J. Kenneth Bradley and William R. Reeves. Judge Comley served as a judge of the city court of Bridgeport in 1905 and 1906. In 1914 he was elected to the state senate from the twenty-first district. This was the only time he sought elective public office. By nature he was disinclined to seek public favor, to be prominently mentioned in the press, or to aspire to fame. He was city attorney of Bridgeport from 1912 to 1920 and gave to that office the benefit of his sound judgment and unusual ability as a lawyer when the city was facing the problems arising out of the tremendous expansion which occurred during the first world war.
When Homer S. Cummings retired as state's attorney for Fairfield County in 1924, Chief Justice George W. Wheeler urged Judge Comley to take the appointment. He accepted and held that office until 1937. He was a vigorous, fearless and sagacious prosecutor, but he was also a very discerning one. While he pursued with keen, relentless energy those whom he thought guilty, there were many occasions when, prompted by his understanding sympathy, he asked the court's clemency for the unfortunate offender. He strove for justice tempered with mercy in the truest, finest sense of that familiar phrase. The eighteenth amendment was in force during most of the years when Judge Comley was state's attorney. Although he questioned the wisdom of this social experiment, he prosecuted unstintingly the violators of the prohibition laws. He was eminently successful in forestalling in his county the extensive racketeering which was rampant in other states. He was respected and feared by evildoers, and they avoided Fairfield County.
He was unexcelled as a trial lawyer. Neatly but plainly dressed, serene but forceful, soft-spoken, gentlemanly, with the appearance of a true scholar of the law, he was the central figure of every trial in which he took part. He was not dramatic. Without reference to notes he knew what the witnesses he produced would testify to, and he went directly to the central theme of his case. On cross-examination he never belabored a witness or asked a question when he was not reasonably sure what the answer would be. His memory of what had taken place during a trial included minute details, and his ability to formulate clear, concise questions, to which there could be but one unequivocal reply, was extraordinary. The careless, expansive, untruthful witness usually found his machinations shattered when Judge Comley had finished his cross-examination. The trial and appellate briefs by Judge Comley were clear and persuasive and written with careful attention to accurate literary composition. They read extremely well. His oral arguments when transposed from stenographic notes needed no editing. He loved his profession, and though he labored hard at his work, he enjoyed it. His wisdom and integrity as a lawyer inspired universal confidence. To mention but a handful of the cases, well known in their day, in which Judge Comley was counsel and helped to shape the law of the state, there were the criminal cases of State v. Wade, 96 Conn. 238; State v. Frost, 105 Conn. 326; State v. Ford, 109 Conn. 490, State v. Palko, 121 Conn. 669, 122 Conn. 529; and the civil cases of McKelvey v. Creevey, 72 Conn. 464; Weidlich v. New York, N.H.& H.R. Co., 93 Conn. 438;Torlonia v. Torlonia, 108 Conn. 292.
On the trial bench he presided with quiet dignity. Nothing escaped his attention. He asked few questions and left the direction of the trial to counsel. Lawyers appearing before him recognized and respected his legal learning. Very few of his rulings were ever successfully challenged. The memoranda of his decisions have literary merit. The findings he prepared for cases on appeal show a thorough knowledge of the rules of appellate procedure and are worthy models to follow.
Meeting Judge Comley in his office or at the courthouse, one might have thought him a bit reserved, a man who lived apart from any circle of genial acquaintances and friends and who lacked activities outside his profession. His friends knew otherwise. In high school, he was a good athlete and played both football and baseball. In his early life he was accounted good at tennis and he played golf. He gave up the latter game, so the story goes, with the facetious statement that having completed, after many attempts, every hole of a nine-hole course in par, he had done all that the experts could expect and needed to pursue the game no further. He loved ships and the sea and with his wife and children took many voyages to out-of-the-way places. After he was fifty years old, he purchased a schooner yacht and with his family, especially his son, and a few friends, participated in long-distance races. A cruise around Long Island and another down the Maine coast were annual events for many years. He was always a generous host and a delightful companion. His keen wit and sense of humor evoked merriment on many a social occasion. He read widely and could recount in a most interesting way passages from the leading English authors, with whose writings he was very familiar. Thackeray was one of his favorites. While he played no musical instrument, he enjoyed music and he knew the works of the great composers sufficiently well to discuss them interestingly.
Judge Comley held strong convictions, but he was never opinionated. He was always generous and tolerant and did not assume to be, though he truly was, a man of broad learning within and without the law, a cultured gentleman. He had many friends and a host of admirers. His enemies, if he had any, were such as any good and true man should have. Throughout his life Judge Comley attended the Episcopal Church regularly. For many years he was warden of St. Paul's Church in Bridgeport and superintendent of its Sunday school. When he moved from East Bridgeport to Brooklawn Park in 1924, he joined Trinity parish and was a regular attendant at services there.
Judge Comley took pride and delight in his family. In 1902 he was married to Maud B. Skidmore. Three children were born to them: Marion, Isabel and Frederick L. Comley. Father, mother and children found their greatest pleasure in their family circle. On evenings, week ends, vacation times, especially in the children's younger years, they were usually together. Judge Comley always maintained strong bonds of affection and association with his two sisters, Iris B. Comley and Ida May Comley Provost, and his two brothers, Arthur M. and John M. Comley.
Upon reaching the age of retirement on October 12, 1945, Judge Comley left the bench in New Haven, where he had first sat as a Superior Court judge. He was succeeded by his younger brother, Judge John M. Comley. During the succeeding years, when he was a state referee, he could be found daily at the courthouse. Lawyers were always highly pleased when their cases were referred to him. He kept diligently to his task as a referee until, ill health overtaking him, he resigned himself with faith and fortitude to the inevitable and came to the courthouse no more. He died at his home in Fairfield on April 28, 1955.
"As the last bell struck, a peculiar sweet smile shone over his face, and he lifted up his head a little, and quickly said, `Adsum!' and fell back. It was the word we used at school, when names were called; and lo, he, whose heart was as that of a little child, had answered to his name, and stood in the presence of The Master." **
**Thackeray, The Newcomes, bk. i, c. 80.
*Prepared by Hon. Raymond E. Baldwin, of Glastonbury.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 122, pages 675 - 677
George Albert Conant, a member of the Hartford County bar, was born in Ithaca, New York, a son of Albert A. and Amanda (Crittenden) Conant, on June 27th 1856, and died in Hartford on August 23d, 1935. While he was a boy his family moved to Mansfield in this State and later to Willimantic where he attended the Natchaug High School. He was graduated from Amherst College in 1878.
Mr. Conant studied law at the Boston Law School and in the office of Hon. John M. Hall of Willimantic and was admitted to the Connecticut bar on May 21st, 1880. For some years he practiced law in Willimantic and was counsel at that place for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company. He then moved to Hartford, where he became associated with the firm of Buck and Eggleston and was assistant state's attorney to Hon. Arthur F. Eggleston until his appointment as assistant clerk of the Superior Court for Hartford County.
For thirty-one years he was assistant clerk and clerk of the Superior Court for Hartford County, having been appointed assistant clerk July 1st, 1894 and clerk, July 1st, 1897. It was his life work. On October 10th, 1935, he was, at his own request, retired from that office. Although at the height of his powers, he feared that the time might come, possibly without his being conscious of it, when he would be unable to give to that office what he had given and what he felt he must give. In that instance, as on all occasions, he acted from the highest sense of honor and loyalty to his office and his associates.
Mr. Conant was eminently fitted for his position. To him it was not a task but an opportunity for service. Industrious, conscientious, exact, technical only where technicalities were necessary, he gave all he had - and that was much - to his work. To do his work well was not enough, only his best would satisfy him. His standards were high and no labor was too great and no detail too small. He had a most refreshing and delightful sense of humor. Courteous and kind, ever helpful, faithful to his work, Mr. Conant left a record to be proud of. Upon his retirement, the bench and bar paid him high and well-deserved tribute. This tribute, although laudatory in a high degree, was most richly deserved. It is certain that Mr. Conant himself was the most surprised man in the room when he realized the esteem and devotion in which he was held by the Connecticut bar.
The remaining ten years of his life were spent in a continuation of his studies of many law problems, the sources of the powers of the courts, and special research into the early history of the laws of marriage and divorce. He was interested in examining the powers reserved by the Legislature to grant divorces for causes other than those for which it had delegated that power to the Superior Court. His work along those lines was nearly completed at his death.
For his recreation he made painstaking observations on the life of flowers and plants and the birds that visited his garden. Day after day would find him sitting quietly on the terrace at his home with paper and pencil before him noting the habits of his favorite birds. He recognized many of them as his constant friends.
On November 5th, 1891, he was married to Ruth F. Sanger of Canterbury who died on March 27th, 1893, leaving a daughter, Ruth Sanger Conant. She is an ordained minister of the Congregational Church. On December 11th, 1906, he married Thomasine Haskell of Windsor Locks, who also survives him.
He spread happiness and cheer everywhere and there was never a selfish thought in his heart, but charity for all. All who knew him loved him and will cherish his memory.
*Prepared by John H. Buck and Lucius P. Fuller, of the Hartford bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 58, pages 594 - 595
William Russell Cone, the oldest member of the Hartford city bar, died at Hartford on the 10th day of January, 1890. He was born in East Haddam in this state on the 22d day of June, 1810. His father was Joseph W. Cone, a prosperous farmer and prominent citizen of that town. The son prepared for college first under Rev. Isaac Parsons of East Haddam, and later in the grammar school at Hartford, and entered Yale College in 1826, graduating in 1830. He then studied law in the Yale Law School under Chief Justice Daggett and Prof. Hitchcock, and after being admitted to the bar formed a partnership with William Hungerford of Hartford, a native of East Haddam, then regarded as the most learned lawyer in the state and with the largest practice in our highest courts. To the firm thus formed Mr. Cone brought a rare vigor of mind and great industry, and soon became noted for the thoroughness of his preparation of the cases committed to it. He took special charge of the business of the firm, leaving mainly to Mr. Hungerford the argument of its causes in court. The firm of Hungerford & Cone became a famous one and had for a quarter of a century the largest and most important and lucrative practice in the state. In 1860 the partners retired from practice, with handsome fortunes, though the partnership continued in the ownership of property until Mr. Hungerford's death in 1873.
After his retirement from practice Mr. Cone devoted himself to the care of his own large financial interests, and to others which were entrusted to him. He always had the public confidence as a man of integrity and trustworthiness, as well as of sound practical judgment and sagacity, and his counsel in financial matters was regarded as of great value. He was from its organization a director of the Aetna Bank and from 1869 to 1887 its president. He was also a director in the Aetna Fire Insurance Company, the Hartford Carpet Company, the Security Company, and the Connecticut River Railroad Company, and a trustee of the Society for Savings; also president of the board of managers of the Retreat for the Insane, of the trustees of the Watkinson Library, and of the Wadsworth Atheneum. He had been associated with other important institutions but in his later years had been inclined to limit the calls upon his time and strength.
Mr. Cone had no liking for public life and would never accept a nomination to political office. He had also declined a seat upon the Superior Court. He had been from his early residence in Hartford a member of the Center Congregational Church in that city.
Mr. Cone married in 1833 Rebecca D. Brewster, the daughter of James Brewster, then a prominent carriage manufacturer of New Haven, and a direct descendant of the Elder Brewster of New England history. She died four months after his death. There are three surviving children - James B. Cone of Hartford, who graduated at Yale College in 1857, Henrietta, wife of the Rev. Louis A. Lanpher, an Episcopal clergyman settled in Wethersfield in this state, and Alice, wife of the Rev. A. Delgarno Robinson, a clergyman of the English Church.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 130, pages 730 - 733
Whatever a man does to earn his livelihood must of necessity have an influence on his life, if for no other reason than that he spends a long time at it. In addition, the hours thus spent represent, in the case of a successful man, the expenditure of a greater amount of vital energy than any other equal period of his life.
It is not then an incident to be passed over lightly in referring to the life of James Earnest Cooper, late of New Britain, Connecticut, that he spent his first twenty-three years after completing his university education actively engaged in the general practice of law, and then, retiring from general practice, became general counsel and vice president of a large industrial corporation, positions which he held at the time of his decease.
Judge Cooper was brought up in an ideal New England home atmosphere. He had an excellent education. He had a very happy and helpful married life. He followed a profession that was a constant development of his mind and judgment. As a lawyer he was not so much interested in trial work as in the adjustments of individuals and corporations to the complex social and economic problems of everyday life. He started out like other young lawyers and worked his way up and in doing so handled all sorts of legal matters, some of which involved very important questions of law. Thus he had a very wide experience, including that of being corporation counsel for the city of New Britain for twelve years.
He was still in general practice when the federal income tax laws went in effect. He made a study of these laws and he thereafter confined his practice almost exclusively to corporation work, being especially interested at that time in the application of these laws. He was attorney for most of the large corporations of New Britain during those early days of tax problems.
Probably no one could obtain a more highly respected and useful position in the community in the years in which Judge Cooper lived than of being recognized as a person of absolute integrity and of sound judgment, for then as well as at present many unsound ideas were current. Judge Cooper was universally recognized as a man of absolute integrity and of well-reasoned opinions and thus was a great asset to his community and to his state.
Only a few years before Judge Cooper died he built a very beautiful home, and before he and his family moved into it, he dedicated it with a poem which he wrote. This poem, written in December, 1935, gives a picture of himself. The poem is as follows:
GOD BLESS THIS HOUSE
Glass, wood, concrete and brick and stone
Gathered to build us, here, a home.
A shelter from the winter's chill
From rain and snow, from wind and ill.
God bless this home.
And bless, oh Lord, all those who dwell
Within these walls. May their lives tell
Of kindness and peace. May there be naught
Of biting word or bitter thought
Within this house.
And give us Lord, with level eye,
Courage to face our destiny.
In health or sickness, woe or weal
Give us, oh Lord, the faith to feel
Thy hand upon this house.
Judge Cooper died on the 7th day of April, 1943, at Orlando, Florida, where he had gone for his health. He was born in Lockport, N. Y., on March 13, 1873, but his family moved to New Britain when he was about five years old and thereafter New Britain became his permanent home. His father, the Reverend Dr. James Wesley Cooper, was called to New Britain in 1878 to become pastor of the South Congregational Church of New Britain, a position he held for twenty-five years. Dr. Cooper was widely known and held many prominent positions in religious and educational circles. Judge Cooper's mother was Ellen Hilliard Cooper.
Judge Cooper was graduated from the New Britain High School and from Yale College. At college he was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and of the Wolf's Head Club. After finishing at Yale he attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1898. In that year he established a partnership in New Britain with the late Judge John H. Kirkham for the practice of law. A number of years later Judge S. Russell Mink, of Bristol, Connecticut, became associated with the firm. A few years later he retired to become judge of probate in Bristol. In 1919 the firm of Kirkham, Cooper, Hungerford & Camp was formed. The partnership then consisted of Judge Kirkham, Judge Cooper, Judge William C. Hungerford and Attorney Mortimer H. Camp.
In 1921 Judge Cooper retired from the partnership to become general counsel and vice president of the Stanley Works, a large manufacturing concern located in New Britain. He held these positions until his death and he was also a director of the Stanley Works, the New Britain Trust Company, the Trumbull Electric Manufacturing Company, the Stanley Securities Company and the New Britain General Hospital, and a trustee of the Jerome Home. He was formerly president of the Burritt Mutual Savings Bank. For a number of years he was director of the Fafnir Bearing Company.
Judge Cooper was a Republican in politics. He was a deputy judge of the Police Court of New Britain from July 1, 1902, to July 1, 1904, and judge of the court from July 1, 1904, to July 1, 1909. He was corporation counsel of the city of New Britain from July 1, 1909, until January 19, 1921, when he resigned and was succeeded by his law partner, Judge Kirkham. He was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1903.
He was one of the first members of the board of adjustment of New Britain when the zoning ordinances were established for New Britain, and he was its first chairman. He was at one time a member of the examining board of the Connecticut bar. He was a member of the South Congregational Church of New Britain. During World War I, he was chairman of one of the draft boards of New Britain. He served also as a member of the committee for the erection of the World War Memorial Shaft at Walnut Hill Park in New Britain.
Judge Cooper married Elizabeth Wayne, the daughter of an Episcopal rector, on September 2, 1900. He left, besides his wife, a son, James Wayne Cooper, a prominent lawyer and member of the firm of Watrous, Gumbart & Corbin, of New Haven, and several grandchildren. He also left a brother, Elisha H. Cooper, of New Britain, chairman of the board of directors of Fafnir Bearing Company, and three nephews.
*Prepared by Mortimer H. Camp, of the New Britain bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 143, pages 743 - 745
John A. Cornell, a distinguished member of the bench and bar and a retired justice of the Supreme Court of Errors, was born in Bridgeport on January 9, 1886, the son of the late John A. Cornell and Minnie Geary Cornell. Both of his parents lived in Bridgeport all their lives. His grandfather, John G. Cornell, was born in Derby and served two years in the Union Army in the Civil War. His mother's people came from Cromwell, Connecticut.
Judge Cornell's father was a good mechanic and proud of it. He helped design and build part of the engine of the old Port Jefferson ferry, and when, after years of service, it was reported to be the best engine on Long Island Sound, he was not surprised. John learned early in life that good workmanship has long rewards. But there was little money in the family, and after John finished high school in 1905, the obvious next step was to go to work. So he did, as a salesman for The Bridgeport Chain Company. Three years later, at nineteen, he was promoted to be assistant sales manager. He worked until 1912, when he had earned sufficient funds to enable him to study law at the New York University Law School, from which he was graduated in 1914, having completed the three-year course in two years. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar the same year.
In 1917 he married Alice Breyer. Except for a short period of time when he lived in Fairfield, he resided in Bridgeport until his death. He and his wife were deeply devoted to each other, and their married life was most happy and inspiring. Mrs. Cornell, during the many months of Judge Cornell's illness, gave her husband unstintedly of her time, her love and her care and assistance. They were an ideal couple.
From 1914 to 1932, Judge Cornell actively participated in the practice of law, and his experience at the bar broadened, fortified and matured his character, perspective and mind. He was regarded as a skilful and scholarly lawyer of the highest ethical standards. He soon won the reputation throughout the state of Connecticut of being exhaustive in his legal research and would labor long and incessantly, often throughout the hours of the night, to prepare a legal opinion. He never gave hasty judgments, and would make a complete and thorough research of the law before giving his opinion on any given legal problem. His legal opinions and decisions were always supported by legal precedent. While his briefs were often voluminous, it was only because his research was so complete and thorough, and he would overlook no authority which would assist the court in adopting the proposition of law which he was advocating.
After his admission to the bar, John Cornell wasted no time in adopting politics as a medium of civic service. Undoubtedly he was not blind to the truism that political activity can be useful to a young lawyer, but it would not have occurred to him to select his party affiliation on that basis. Bridgeport was then firmly entrenched as a Republican stronghold, but with him there was no compromise with loyalties and personal conviction. He joined the Democratic party and came up the hard way. No one sponsored him. With no political experience, he became the Democratic leader in Bridgeport, and through his leadership the Democratic party elected a mayor, thereby breaking the long record of victories of the strongly entrenched Republican party. He was appointed city attorney of Bridgeport, and he was soon recognized as an expert on municipal law.
On January 8, 1932. Governor Wilbur L. Cross appointed John Cornell to the Superior Court bench. His appointment was acclaimed by bench and bar. He was indorsed for the appointment by leading lawyers and jurists, since it was well known that he was pre-eminently qualified for judicial appointment to the Superior Court. His scholarly and gentlemanly attainments made him an outstanding judge. The courage of his convictions and his impartiality were reflected in the judicial decisions he rendered. He brought to the bench a wealth of experience gained by him in the practice of law. He had a keen and resourceful intellect, always prepared to cope with both complex and unusual problems. He had a deep feeling and respect for spiritual values. His love for judicial work, together with his industry, ability and knowledge of the law, gained for him the reputation of being an able and conscientious jurist.
The ethics of the practice of law meant a great deal to Judge Cornell. One of his outstanding characteristics was his intense dislike of all kinds of chicanery and dishonesty. He would quickly lose patience with evasive and dishonest witnesses. He always felt that an attorney before him should be thoroughly prepared so that the interests of the attorney's client would be fully protected and presented to the court.
He served on the Superior Court until May 12, 1953, when he was sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court on the nomination of Governor John Lodge. Two sessions convinced him that his health could not stand the exactions of appellate work, and to the genuine regret of bench and bar alike he resigned the following September. His health declined progressively until his death on January 6, 1956, in Bridgeport.
Perhaps the best known and the most respected of his judicial opinions is one that had the force of law for less than two months. His forty-five page decision in Osborn v. Zoning Board of Appeals, 11 Conn. Sup. 489, had, with rare courage and logic, attacked the constitutional warrant for the powers and indeed for the very existence of the Court of Common Pleas. His conclusion was overruled by the Supreme Court in Walkinshaw v. O'Brien, 130 Conn. 122, but by a divided court, and only after great deference was given to the thorough research and careful reasoning of Judge Cornell in the Osborn case. The Osborn opinion is more than a profound historical document - it is a worthy monument to the kind of judge who must call the turn as he sees it, for good or ill, with independence and integrity.
Any fair appraisal of Judge Cornell's life and accomplishment must be made in the light of the tremendous physical handicaps with which he had to contend during most of his life. He was always physically frail. When barely out of law school he believed that he had incipient tuberculosis. and when he was advised that riding and the care of his own animal would help to arrest such a tendency, he painstakingly followed the advice. He liked riding horseback about the countryside whenever he could find the time, and warmed to the companionships which are always born of a common interest. Far more serious and more difficult to control was a diabetic condition of long standing, which limited to a considerable extent his social and other activities. Acute attacks of this malady interrupted his work with increasing frequency and took a severe toll of his strength and vitality. Cataracts in both eyes were ultimately relieved by surgery, but only after years of gallant struggle against all the vicissitudes of failing sight. Achievement far less than his, in the face of so painful a succession of misfortunes, would command admiration and respect.
That he sometimes appeared sensitive to criticism was perhaps partly due to a reluctance to exploit his physical condition in his own defense. But it is better explained by his own high standards of personal loyalty. Always within the limits of strict judicial propriety, there seemed no service too menial and none too exacting for the calls of friendship. His quiet courtesy to any member of the bar was a byword, but woe to him who abused it. His devotion to a trusted friend seemed immune to misunderstanding.
Judge Cornell gained a wide reputation as a scholarly recluse. More accurately, he was a thorough and painstaking student of the law who, by sheer industry, was able largely to compensate for bad health. This left little time for social activities, even if his strength or inclinations had permitted them. He was a man who possessed both humility and courage; and while always displaying a serious exterior, he had a great sense of humor which showed itself in the quiet company of a few friends. He was never ostentatious in his habits and was sympathetic and warmhearted whenever a friend was in need. His life was active, colorful, complete and full of meaning.
The religious duties of a Roman Catholic, the routine of a modest household, his horses, the development of the charming summer home he had acquired on the Maine coast, the companionship of a devoted wife and a few close friends, these and his chosen profession filled his days with quiet happiness and his years with honorable accomplishment.
*Prepared by Hon. Richard S. Swain and David Goldstein, of Bridgeport.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 139, page iii
Appointed to Supreme Court May 7, 1953, to take effect May 12, 1953.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 140, page iii
Retired September 22, 1953.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 225, pages 930 - 931
The Honorable John P. Cotter, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Connecticut's first chief court administrator, died on March 16, 1993, at the age of eighty-two.
Chief Justice Cotter was born in Hartford on March 2, 1911. During the Depression, he worked his way through college as a truck driver, earning a B.S. degree in history and economics from Trinity College in 1933. He earned his law degree from the Harvard Law School in 1936 and joined the Hartford firm of Day, Berry and Howard for two years. In 1938, at the age of twenty-seven, he opened his own law practice in association with Attorney Joseph P. Cooney, and three years later became prosecuting attorney of the Hartford Police Court.
He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1947 and served as House Democratic floor leader until 1950. During this period, he was a member of the Judiciary Committee, the Metropolitan District Commission and chairman of the Legislative Council (1947-48). He was an active participant in several democratic campaigns.
In 1950, at the age of thirty-nine, he was sworn in as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas by Governor Chester Bowles, becoming the youngest jurist in Connecticut's state court system to that time. Five years later, Governor Abraham A. Ribicoff nominated him to be a judge of the Superior Court. He held that post for ten years until his appointment as associate justice of the Supreme Court. He was also named to the new position of chief court administrator, effective July 1, 1965. During his thirteen years as chief court administrator, the court system underwent extensive structural changes, the most significant of which was court unification, which culminated in the establishment of a one-tier trial court system in 1978.
"Under Chief Justice Cotter, the court began to organize in an orderly manner which facilitated the handling of cases and brought justice closer to the people of Connecticut," said Aaron Ment, the current chief court administrator.
Chief Justice Cotter was nominated to be chief justice in 1978. He served in the state's highest judicial position until 1981 when he reached the mandatory retirement age of seventy. He continued to serve the judiciary as a state trial referee for many years.
During his judicial career, Chief Justice Cotter served on numerous boards and commissions, including cochair of the Connecticut Planning Committee on Criminal Administration, chair of the Advisory Council on Court Unification, director of the American Judicature Society, trustee of the Institute for Court Management, and member of the Board of Pardons, American Law Institute, Institute of Judicial Administration and Judicial Council.
Chief Justice Cotter leaves his wife, Jeannette Z. Cotter, and two daughters.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 153, page iii
Appointed to the Supreme Court June 9, 1965, to take effect July 1, 1965.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 175, page iii
Appointed Chief Justice March 2, 1978, to take effect April 24, 1978.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 183, page iii
Retired March 2, 1981, under constitutional limitation as to age.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 203, page iii (also printed in volume 204, page iii)
Appointed to the Supreme Court June 26, 1987, to take effect June 26, 1987.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 224, page iii
Resigned - Federal Judge effective September 2, 1992.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 163, pages 645 - 647
Retired Superior Court Judge Frank Covello of 82 Walbridge Road, West Hartford, died December 11, 1972, in St. Francis Hospital, Hartford. He was seventy-three years of age.
A native of Calabria, Italy, Judge Covello resided in the Greater Hartford area for fifty years. His parents, Angelo V. and Filomena Covello, came to America leaving their children in Italy until they could establish a home for them here. Frank Covello, born November 13, 1899, was eleven years of age when he came to the United States. His father was a strict and stern disciplinarian with a deep and dedicated devotion to his family, and he taught his son that the law is to be respected and that no man is above or below it.
Judge Covello was proud of his Italian heritage and ancestry. He was the first student of Italian extraction to graduate from the Norwich Free Academy. He was valedictorian of his class and the best Greek scholar. He often said that his greatest thrill in those early days as a young student was reading the wanderings of Homer’s Ulysses in the original Greek.
Judge Covello graduated summa cum laude from Boston University Law School in 1922 and in that year was admitted to the bars of Massachusetts and Connecticut. He formerly was president of the Hartford board of education, a member of the Hartford city council, corporation counsel of the city of Hartford, and prosecutor for the Court of Common Pleas. He was appointed to the Superior Court by former Governor John Lodge in 1954. After Judge Covello’s retirement in 1969, he served as a state referee.
The bar and the state of Connecticut were blessed when Judge Covello was appointed a judge of our Superior Court. He had been exposed to the myriad facets of the law, embracing office practice, the daily challenge of the trial bar, and the complex and unending municipal problems of burgeoning Hartford. During the eighteen years that he graced the bench, Judge Covello participated in and made many noted and sometimes controversial decisions. In 1962, he held the Henry Miller novel, “Tropic of Cancer,” obscene and fined a bookstore owner for having it on his shelves, stating, “An examination of the book, ‘Tropic of Cancer,’ convinces the court that it is a shocking display of thought and expression . . . totally lacking any idea having the slightest redeeming social importance.” A year later, he ruled invalid ordinances passed by New Haven and Hamden which required a local water company to flouridate drinking water. The case, one of first instance in this country where a private water company fought against adding flourides to its water supply, came at a time when flouridation cases were major national issues.
Judge Covello was an avid golfer all of his life and looked forward with great anticipation to the spring recess of court when he and his wife, together with their son and daughter-in-law, would head south to play golf in Pinehurst, North Carolina. He was a member of the Pinehurst Country Club and also of the Wampanoag Country Club in West Hartford, where his friends always turned to him as arbiter of some challenged ruling at the water’s edge. He was a past exalted ruler of the Hartford Lodge of Elks and took great pride in being a member of Unico National, Hartford Chapter, and of the Italian-American Alliance of North America.
Judge Covello was a man of faith, hope and compassion, with an unbounded trust in his fellowman. Once, during his practice of the law, a young and new associate of his who had just been admitted to the bar inquired of him as to which members of the bar should be trusted, and Judge Covello quickly and firmly responded that he should have implicit trust in everyone until it was personally proven to him otherwise. He was always eager to help young lawyers and newly appointed judges along the way, never hesitating to stop and advise a young practitioner wallowing in some ambivalent section of the Connecticut Practice Book. Judge Covello enjoyed and had the camaraderie of both the bench and bar. He was always a perfect gentleman.
Judge Covello was considered a judge’s judge by his fellow jurists. Not only did this handsome and dignified man possess a judicial appearance but he also was blessed with a brilliant legal mind and the integrity, temperament and acumen needed to be a great judge. He was a kind, humble, reserved and quiet man who spoke softly but with authority. To observe him preside in the courtroom was an inspiration to everyone. His words, behavior and demeanor never showed even the slightest appearance of undue interest or partiality. He was a powerful influence in the courtroom and assured the integrity of the proceedings. He had a firm belief that the duty of a judge is to maintain and protect the reality and appearance of justice and respect for the law. He regarded the powers and responsibilities of a judge as awesome, and he exercised those powers patiently, wisely, fairly, justly and reasonably as an impartial arbiter.
He was a devoted and understanding husband and father, and he was quite proud when his son followed him into the practice of law as a competent, distinguished and respected member of the bar. Until his death, one of his greatest joys and satisfactions was discussing law with his son.
Surviving Judge Covello are his beloved wife, Bernadine Neville Covello, who was a constant source of encouragement, pride and joy to him; a son, Attorney Alfred V. Covello of West Hartford; a daughter, Mrs. Robert E. Munsell of Hyannis, Massachusetts; and seven grandchildren. Funeral services were held at the St. Peter Claver Church in West Hartford, with burial in Fairview Cemetery, West Hartford.
We have lost, with the passing of Judge Covello, a true friend, the perfect public servant, a conscientious and hardworking man with a deep human understanding for his fellowman, a man with a sincere and abiding faith who walked humbly in the path of his God. His sense of fairness, justice and honor and his profound knowledge of the law have guided many of us for a great part of our lives.
Judge Covello was a good man. To know him was to love him. We miss him greatly.
*Prepared by Hon. John A. Speziale, of Torrington.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 216, page iii
Senior Judge effective December 1, 1990.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 89, pages 716 - 717
GEORGE H. COWELL, son of Nelson and Jeanette Bronson Cowell, was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, March 25th, 1840. Two hundred years earlier James Cowell and Samuel Hotchkiss, his ancestors on either side, were settled at Framingham, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut, respectively. The families which represent these men are numerous and influential in the affairs of Waterbury to this day, and their influence combining with his own remarkable traits and honorable ambition, served to make Judge Cowell a foremost figure during a long and busy life.
He studied in the schools of Waterbury and prepared for college at Wesleyan Academy, Wilbraham, Massachusetts. Entering Yale with the class of 1868, he was graduated that year, and from Columbia University Law School in 1869. In this year he was admitted to practice both in New York and Connecticut.
Public life early interested him. From 1871 to 1873 he was assistant clerk and clerk of the Connecticut House of Representatives, and clerk of the Senate. In 1875 Postmaster-General Jewell appointed him chief clerk of the post-office department and he went to Washington. There he also practiced law and was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1879 he returned and was made judge of the City Court, a position he filled until appointed to the District Court of Waterbury in 1883. Thereafter until 1895 he was in active practice, except when on the bench of the District Court. His experience, judicial temperament, and integrity made him a wise counsellor and brought to him many clients from a wide field. In office and court he was successful. During these years he was prominent in the local affairs of his city, especially in school matters.
Patriotic, historical and fraternal societies claimed him and he was elevated to the highest offices in them. In 1895 he represented Waterbury in the Connecticut House of Representatives and was house leader and chairman of the judiciary committee. In 1899 Governor Lounsbury appointed him Judge Advocate General on his staff.
For twenty years he was judge or deputy-judge of the District Court of Waterbury; and before him during this period, came the leading lawyers in those parts of New Haven and Litchfield counties which made up the jurisdiction. There was a clarity and simplicity to his rulings which pleased the members of the bar, and he was accorded their sincere respect because of his fairness and unfailing courtesy. By the older members he was esteemed a loyal and dependable friend, and held by the younger men in genuine affection. Throughout the district his name was a synonym for justice, moral courage, honesty and common sense, and there was genuine regret felt when he reached the age limitation on March 25th, 1910, and was obliged for that reason to leave the bench.
On November 11th, 1878, he married Alice Sewall Barton, of Washington, D. C., who, with one daughter, Jeanette E. Cowell, survives him. Two other children, a son and daughter, predeceased him.
He was a religious man and a member of the First Methodist Church. He professed his religion seriously and actively worked for its advancement. In the practice of charity he was assiduous, and his personal benefactions were numerous, but seldom disclosed. It was characteristic of him to contribute the nucleus of the fund with which the Odd Fellows Home, at Groton, Connecticut, was established.
Judge Cowell throughout a busy life was faithful to high ideals. He died on August 10th, 1910, universally regretted.
The following resolutions passed by the Waterbury Bar, express the lofty estimate of his character, formed by his brother lawyers:—
The members of the Waterbury Bar, of New Haven County, having lost through the death of George H. Cowell, a beloved and respected associate, desire to record their appreciation of his many estimable qualities. On the bench, at the bar, and in his other varied positions in life, he was ever courteous, charitable and wise. As a counsellor and adviser of men he was pre-eminent, and those who consulted and were advised by him, had the benefit of the ripened judgment of a man who knew and loved the world, and was imbued with a sense of justice, which was mellowed by a sympathetic knowledge of the faults and frailties of his fellowmen.
*Prepared by Francis P. Guilfoile, Esq., of the New Haven County bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 51, pages 599 - 600
WILLIAM CLEAVELAND CRUMP, son of Reuben and Eliza Richards Crump, was born in New York on the 19th day of September, 1816. He removed to New London at an early age: was educated at Professor Dwight's school in New Haven, and at Mrs. Hall's school at Ellington. He graduated Yale in 1836. After graduation he went to western New York with a party of civil engineers engaged in the preliminary survey for the Erie Railroad. He afterward studied law in the office of William P. Cleaveland, Jr., a leading lawyer in New London County, was admitted to the bar in 1839, and continued the practice of his profession in New London until his death. His health began to fail in 1883, and suffering from a complication of diseases, he went for medical treatment to the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he died of disease of the heart, March 9th, 1883.
This brief record of his career can give but a slight idea of the weight and influence of a man whose entire life was a lesson and an example to all who came into contact with him. Of deeply religious thought and feeling, of great simplicity of life and sincerity of conviction, with something of Puritan severity in his judgments of his own conduct, his unfailing cheerfulness and serenity made him at all times the most agreeable of companions. His appreciation of humor was marked and keen, and his dislike of sham and pretense was outspoken. His range of reading was singularly wide, and his memory very retentive. Scott, Thackeray, Dickens, Marryat, Cooper, and Irving were as familiar to him as were the heavier writers in the weighty matters of the law. His quotations were always apt and always accurate. Apart from the clergy, there were few who could equal his knowledge of the Bible. Reverent and earnest study had brought him a faith in its doctrines and comprehension of its teachings which many who came to him in doubt and anxiety will gratefully remember. He had been for years before his death a deacon of the First Congregational Church in New London, and the trusted adviser of the church and its pastor.
He shrank from publicity, and took only such part in public affairs as he believed it to be his duty to take. The people of his town would gladly have placed him in positions of public prominence and public trust, but it was always his wish to avoid, so far as possible, public honors or political place. He was constantly sought for positions of trust, and was most frequently appointed an arbitrator in cases of disputed claims. His legal practice was largely an advisory one. He had little or nothing to do with criminal practice, and seldom appeared before a jury. Such arguments as he did address to a jury were distinguished by their clear, concise and convincing logic. He was the trusted counsellor of very many who learned to lean upon him, not only as their counsellor but their friend. The strict integrity of his life impressed itself on all who knew him. To know one man who, in all the hurry and bustle of a busy world, amid the trials and temptations of life, went quietly on his way in unswerving rectitude and unfaltering honesty of purpose, is worth more than whole volumes of sermons or books of moral precepts.
And so this quiet life, lived so simply and unostentatiously, has had an influence reaching more widely than the world can easily note, touching far deeper than words can easily tell. His too was the charity that "suffereth long and is kind." That "thinketh no evil." His sharp criticism was ever of himself, his charity was for his fellow-men. He was slow to impugn the honesty of his fellows, ready to put upon their actions the most charitable construction, ready to forgive what even his charity could not excuse. Quiet as his life was, modest as was his own estimate of himself, no man had a deeper influence among his own townspeople. His opinion was of such weight with those who knew him best that he was in many cases a daysman whose judgment was never disputed. He realized to a fuller extent than most of his brethren at the bar the position - more fully appreciated in England where landed and entailed estates make it more necessary - of a family lawyer; and in such a position his advice and his counsel were frequently asked in matters that passed outside the limits of the law. With strong confidence in his judgment, and a well-founded faith in his integrity, they who had no other advisor to seek came to him for counsel in intricate and puzzling affairs. They always found him ready to listen and willing to aid, and it is perhaps for these unwritten opinions, that were given to them who felt sorely in need of such advice, that he will be the best and longest remembered. By his gifts to the poor, by the never failing earnestness with which he sought to raise the fallen or aid the distressed, by unremitting kindness to all who sought help from him, by his pure faith in the righteousness and goodness of God, by his love for his fellow men, by his strong clear mind and his great ability, and by the unflinching honesty of his life, he found for himself a place in the hearts of those who knew him and loved him which he himself would have been the last to believe. When it was known that he had forever left the places that he had filled so well, not only among his brethren of the bar who had prized him for his learning and his sound judgment, but among the many, in all ranks of life, who had learned by his life or profited by his help, there was mourning for the good man gone, and sorrow that a noble life ended. And the sorrow and remembrance live after him. "He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth forever."
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by Mr. Walter Learned of New London.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 108, pages 741 - 744
THOMAS MITCHELL CULLINAN was born November 14th, 1867, at Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of the late John and Catherine Keating Cullinan. While still a boy the family moved to Bridgeport where he lived until his death on July 10th, 1928.
His education was begun in the public schools of Bridgeport where he graduated from the High School in 1885. He entered the Class of 1889 at Yale College and after receiving his degree of B. A. in that year he took the two years course of study at the Yale Law School, graduating in 1891. In the same year he was admitted to the bar of Fairfield County.
Thomas Cullinan became the partner of his older brother John J. Cullinan of the Yale College Class of 1887, and Columbia Law School, and this partnership continued until his death. It was varied only by the addition of his cousin Vincent L. Keating, son of the late Bernard Keating who held the office of City Auditor of Bridgeport for life by Special Act of the General Assembly. Mr. Keating was a partner for ten years, retiring in 1925 to become a partner in the firm of Marsh, Stoddard and Day, between whom and Mr. Cullinan there had always been close and friendly relations.
In 1901 he married Lucy A. Fitzpatrick of Bridgeport, who survived him as well as two children, one a daughter Catherine, who graduated in 1924 at Smith College, and the other a son John who graduated at Notre Dame in the Class of 1928, with honors. The son is entering the Yale Law School to follow his father’s profession.
When a memorial of this kind is prepared, it is natural to turn the pages of the law reports to observe the form and manner of similar memorials already of record. In so doing there is found in this instance not a great deal of assistance. The most striking feature of those pages is the note of unmeasured panegyric. So far has the rule of nil nisi bonum been pressed that it has become nil nisi superbum. All members of the bar who have passed away stand alike in a blaze of undimmed splendor.
It is true that no one would be willing to reduce the luster of the virtues or talents that departed brothers have possessed; but nevertheless the real distinction which gives them title to an enduring memorial, well earned and well deserved, is often lost in such reiteration of superlatives.
To Thomas M. Cullinan, especially, it would have been distasteful that his obituary should be written in fulsome flattery. His modest attitude toward life was his prevailing characteristic and if with brevity and simplicity we can preserve the honor and affection in which he was held, it should be the most appropriate form of epitaph.
Without the aid of distinguished ancestry, without the power of a wealthy family, without the influence of friends in high place, he made his way steadily upward all his life, until at the end there was no citizen of Bridgeport held in higher esteem by the community and no man more beloved by his friends. The same may be said in some degree of many men. Almost all members of the bar have the respect of their brethren; many attain positions of dignity and honor; many are able to make true and lasting friendships. But it is rare indeed to find a man who has been able to answer all three of these tests of life. Thomas Cullinan was one of them.
If it is necessary to success to hold high office, or to be heralded to the community for spectacular trials and forensic eloquence, or to acquire obvious riches, he had it not. But if on the other hand it is a truly successful life, after passing thirty-seven years at the bar, to secure the universal acknowledgment of a man’s own city for high character, for excellent judgment, for absolute fairness, for kindly and courteous manners, for unobtrusive goodness and for useful public service, then he had it, and in large measure.
Through the usual vicissitudes of local politics, to which he devoted much time and patience, through success or failure at the polls, through the holding of public office with proficiency or the loss of it by change of party control, he was never led into exaltation on the one hand or thrown into bitterness on the other.
His character is well illustrated by his attitude toward younger members of the bar. In spite of the exacting demands of a large and diversified practice he was always willing to offer freely to young attorneys the benefits of his great experience in the practice of law. This characteristic of his was widely known and was taken advantage of by successive generations of young men who found no other older member of the bar more generous of his time or more kindly and helpful in valuable suggestion.
Perhaps his outstanding quality, crowning his sound learning and good judgment, was the fairness with which he dealt with all problems and all men.
One episode furnishes a shining example. He had been the Corporation Counsel of Bridgeport for two years under Mayor Mulvihill (1901-1905), a period of heated and important litigation which he conducted successfully, and he was to hold the same position under Mayor Buckingham (1909-1911).
In the meantime, a Republican mayor came into office at the same time as a Democratic Board of Aldermen; but through a careless omission in revising the City Charter the appointment of the legal adviser of the mayor and the city was not in the mayor’s hands. As a Democratic City Attorney, through the political strain that naturally prevailed under these circumstances, he held such a course of just dealing and of good counsel, without ever stooping to take political advantage, that he won the admiration of the town.
In accordance with his preference for quiet ways, his social life was not active. He did not care for frequent attendance at clubs or for athletic sports. Neither was he a recluse. He was well informed, a constant reader, always interesting in conversation, devoted to his friends and with the power of drawing their affection. His domestic life was of the best type of the American home.
Many charities had the benefit of his interest and advice. When the Bridgeport Community Chest was inaugurated, with the difficulties of reconciling the conflicting interests of charitable boards of many creeds and many purposes, he was one who was sought for service in smoothing the way and in contributing by his quiet tact to harmonious success. For many years he continued this work. It was of high value and was done with all the patience which such unrequited service demands.
He was a communicant of St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church. He was faithful and devout, stanchly devoted to his Church, and concededly the leading Catholic layman of his native city.
A few years before he was stricken with the lingering illness which proved fatal, Thomas Cullinan was more than once strongly presented by his friends for appointment as Judge of the Superior Court. His appointment would have done credit to the discernment of the State authorities, and the exigencies which interfered with it had no bearing upon his ample qualifications for that position in character and professional attainments. Indeed, his mind and temperament were eminently judicial, his judgment of men was keen and his legal knowledge sound and thorough. He would have made an admirable judge.
It is plain from this imperfect history that there is in it no pride of circumstance, no boast of heraldry or pomp of power; but there is fine integrity, sound achievement, the love of friends, and character equal to the best traditions of New England.
*Prepared by Arthur M. Marsh, Esq., of the Bridgeport bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 51, page 601
Moses Culver was born in Wallingford in this state, June 20th, 1817, where he continued to reside till 1837, when he removed to Chester, where he remained till 1845. During his residence in the latter place he was engaged in mechanical labor, but all his spare hours were devoted to the cultivation of his mind. While he was still at work daily at his trade, he commenced the study of law under the instruction of the late Ely Warner, Esq., of Chester, and after three years of diligent application, he was admitted to the bar. In May, 1845, he removed to Colchester, Connecticut, and entered upon the practice of his profession. In 1846 he removed to East Haddam, where he succeeded to the law business of the Hon. E. A. Bulkeley, who had removed to Hartford. Mr. Culver resided in East Haddam till 1856, during which time he represented the latter town one year in the lower house of the legislature. He was also judge of probate for the district of East Haddam.
In 1856 he removed to Middletown, where he continued the practice of his profession, and, for six years, was State Attorney for Middlesex County. In 1860 he represented Middletown in the lower house of the legislature.
In June, 1875, he was elected a judge of the Superior Court for the term of eight years, and at the expiration of the term was re-elected.
The career of Judge Culver was a happy illustration of that sure reward which follows diligence and persistent well doing. Without the advantages of an early education, he cultivated his mind by his own unaided efforts, and rose to distinction at the bar and on the bench by devoting all his energies to the discharge of his duties. As a citizen his name was without a stain, and in all the relations of life he bore a high character for integrity. As a lawyer he spared no pains or labor to serve the best interests of his clients, and met that success which such efforts seldom fail to win. As a judge he was honored by his associates on the bench and by the bar which practiced before him in all parts of the state; and held in high esteem by the whole community as an able and upright magistrate.
For many years Judge Culver was a devout member of the Congregational Church, and, in his modest demeanor, and the purity and simplicity of his daily life, exemplified the principles of that religion which he professed. During the whole forty-six years in which he was, for most of the time, a conspicuous citizen of Middlesex County, he enjoyed the respect and confidence of all who knew him.
Judge Culver enjoyed excellent health till about a year before his death, when he was attacked by a painful disorder which soon disabled him from labor for the rest of his days. He bore his illness with fortitude and died at his residence in Middletown, October 21st, 1884.
*Prepared, at the request of the Reporter, by Hon. William D. Shipman, of the city of New York.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 52, pages 596 - 598
EDWARD LEROY CUNDALL was born in Killingly, Connecticut, March 9th, 1831. He died at his residence in Brooklyn, October 5th, 1885. Two brothers survive him, Rev. Isaac N. Cundall of Wisconsin, and Charles C. Cundall, M. D. of Fair Haven, Mass. He left a widow and two sons.
His educational advantages were limited - consisting chiefly of such as were afforded by the common schools and academies of that day. But the great school of human experience, in which human nature is taught and illustrated, and in which we acquire a practical knowledge of men and things, was open to him, and he improved his opportunities. The lessons there learned, and the discipline thus experienced, were more to him than college diplomas with high honors are to many men.
He studied law with Judges Foster and Carpenter, successively, and when admitted to the bar of Windham County he formed a co-partnership with the latter. In 1867 he was appointed State's Attorney for Windham County, and held the office six years, when he was appointed clerk of the Superior Court, which office he held at the time of his death. He was also a member of the present commission to revise the statutes.
He represented the town of Brooklyn in the lower branch of the General Assembly for the years 1857, 1865 and 1883, and was a member of the State Senate in 1864.
At an early age he became a member of the Congregational Church at Danielsonville, and ever afterwards sustained the character of a firm, conscientious and consistent Christian. Cant and ostentation were no part of his religion. He had a nobler conception of the duties and privileges of a religious life. The spirit of Christianity became a part of the man, not merely influencing but controlling his intercourse with his fellow men.
As a lawyer he was averse to the trial of causes. He had not those belligerent qualities, which, to a large extent, are essential to a successful advocate. He had a keenly discriminating mind. Few men could analyze the facts of a case and point out the questions on which it must turn as he could. He comprehended as by intuition the strong points of the other side, and no partiality for his client could blind him to the strength of the enemy's position. When the real merits of a cause were with the adverse party, his conscientiousness incapacitated him to a considerable extent from doing full justice to his own client. Early in his professional life his good sense led him to perceive these disadvantages, and to turn his attention to other branches of the profession.
As an office lawyer he was careful and accurate; as a counsellor he was safe and judicious, being much more inclined to settle causes and compose difficulties than to promote litigation. He would exhaust every reasonable effort for a peaceful adjustment whenever it involved no sacrifice of principle.
Virtue, morality and the welfare of the community in which he lived, were considerations of the first importance with him. The prospect of professional advancement, or of lucrative employment, never tempted him to espouse the cause of vice or immorality. In respect to all public questions of that character there was no uncertainty as to his position.
The following passage from the address of his pastor, Rev. Mr. Dingwell, at his funeral, gives the view of his character taken by one, not of his own profession, who knew him intimately: -
"He appears to me to have been a man familiar with the letter of the law, who knew what it enjoined, but yet still more anxious to work out its spirit; - a lover and observer of its forms and technicalities, but still in all his counsel and practice working towards equity and for the equities, in the special and general well-being of his clients and the community. Surely this is ennobling his profession. This is raising it to the dignity of a peace-maker. And our Lord has said, 'Blessed are the peace-makers.' He tried to teach men to discern between good and evil, and so lifted his profession to its highest plane. And in the accomplishment of this work he had a logical, penetrating, though slow and cautious mind. His mental processes were of the slow order, but when he had thoroughly considered a matter and had begun to move he always knew where he was going, and exactly how to get there; and seldom if ever was he obliged to retrace his steps. His counsel was safe, conservative, sound, and comprehensive of the subject in hand. He was more than a mere `attorney at law,' according to Blackstone's definition of attorney. It seems to me he had the larger, sounder, judicial type of mind. He could not only put himself in his client's case, but he almost always saw the judicial, the general or universal phase of the case. As a lawyer he loved to sift the right from the wrong and to unwind the meshes of criminal sophistries that so often get entangled in the web of human society. Thus I think we may see in our brother's legal career, how this much-maligned legal profession, in its daily work and demands, may connect a man with the right, the equities, the eternal justice and mercy, and with God himself.''
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter by Judge Carpenter of the Supreme Court.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 114, pages 739 - 742
Howard Junior Curtis was born in Stratford, Connecticut, June 29th, 1857, and died there on September 24th, 1931. His ancestors settled in Wethersfield in 1640 and shortly moved to Stratford. He graduated from Yale, academic, in 1881, was for the next year principal of a school in Chatham, Virginia, and by studying law after school hours entered the senior class of the Yale Law School, from which he graduated in June, 1883, with a cum laude honor. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar June 27th, 1883. In the following October he entered into a law partnership with George W. Wheeler, his roommate in Yale, and practiced law in Bridgeport under the firm name of Wheeler and Curtis until the firm was dissolved February 28th, 1893, due to the election by the General Assembly of Curtis to the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas and of Wheeler to the Superior Court upon the nomination of Governor Morris.
As a practitioner Curtis was one of the most studious and capable of the younger members of the Fairfield County bar, a scholar of the law and a sound adviser. His preparation of a case was thorough and his presentation of it characterized by its accurate appreciation of the essentials of the case, its grasp of the facts and its constant appeal to sound sense and ripe judgment.
He soon enjoyed as a judge the entire confidence and warm admiration of the bar and he maintained the high repute which that court held under his immediate predecessors, Judge John H. Perry and Judge, later Chief Justice, Hall. To the younger members of the bar he was a helpful friend. When his four-year term was about to end the democratic majority of the county representatives which had chosen him had given way to a republican majority. A leader of the house, a prominent lawyer, contested the position. Behind Judge Curtis' remarkable record influential lawyers and members of the General Assembly made a successful contest. Judge Curtis' retention on the bench, in a time of such strong party feeling, was a tremendous tribute to his services as a judge and to his character as a man.
One manifestation of the bar's regard for him was their obtaining the passage of a legislative act increasing the civil jurisdiction of the court by $1000; not another Common Pleas Court in the State was accorded this distinction until some years later. Judge Curtis continued in that court for fourteen years, having been twice nominated by the Fairfield County caucus and twice by a Governor of an opposite political faith. In January, 1907, upon the advice of leading lawyers and with the cordial approval of the bar of the State, Judge Curtis became a Judge of the Superior Court and continued in that service for twelve and a half years. By natural and acquired qualifications he was pre-eminently fitted for judicial place. By inclination and ambition he was a jurist. He possessed to a far higher degree than most judges do the judicial temperament. He loved the right and felt its call. His mind was well balanced and well poised. He was even tempered, patient as a listener, and in demeanor kindly and courteous. He never spoke before he had thought the point to be decided clear through to its beginning. Whatever he said or wrote was clear, to the point and somewhat sparing of words. He had an unusual power of analyzing facts and legal problems. When he graduated from the Yale Law School, Professor, afterward Chief Justice, Simeon E. Baldwin wrote him a letter emphasizing his capacity for close analysis. His charges to the jury were models. Both law and facts were brought within the average man's comprehension. They fulfilled their so often forgotten purpose, they helped the cause of justice by helping the jury to reach the right verdict. It was a charge, not an essay. No trial judge in his generation surpassed him as a trial judge, when all the qualifications which go to make up a great trial judge are taken into consideration. Within Judge Curtis there dwelt a tranquil but a resolute spirit and an abiding love for the majesty of the law. When there was a judicial duty to be performed he never faltered or retreated from responsibility. He never weighed the consequences of his judicial action. His was a moral courage of high order. Governor Holcomb nominated Judge Curtis to be a Justice of the Supreme Court of Errors to take office in August, 1920. He continued in that court for nearly seven years and retired, through constitutional age limitation, June 27th, 1927. Judge Curtis brought to that court a rich harvest of experience, a well and splendidly disciplined mind, fine ability, a love for judicial work and very many of the qualifications which that position demands. He had a profound knowledge of fundamental legal principles and how to apply them. He was in truth a sound lawyer. He had an innate love of justice. He reasoned logically and fairly. He had sturdy common sense. He was quick to change his conclusion when convinced of his error. He wrote with lucid clarity. His opinions found in eleven or twelve of our Supreme Court Reports reveal these characteristics. They are essentially the product of clear legal thinking, their conclusion is inescapable. They are carefully and well written and some are leading cases. Judge Curtis' opinion with his associates in the conference room was weighty. His quietly expressed word represented a considered judgment which they deeply respected. The judicial attainments and wide repute of Judge Curtis, then a Superior Court Judge, led the United States Attorney-General McReynolds to tender him a position on the Circuit Court of Appeals of the Second Circuit made vacant by the resignation of Judge Walter Noyes. For personal reasons Judge Curtis was obliged to decline this high honor.
Colonel Osborn, in a memorable editorial at Judge Curtis' decease, said: "He was a wise and upright Judge, not solely because he was learned in the law and understood its place in the administration of justice, but also because he was in temperament wise and upright in his outlook upon life and appreciative of the weaknesses as well as the virtues of mankind. . . . His promotion to the bench of the Superior Court and thence to the Supreme Court fulfilled the prophecies of his friends and the logic of devoted service." Judge Curtis' character matched and overmatched his intellectual attainments as jurist and judge, indeed, that was the base upon which his distinguished career was builded.
His personal qualities bound his friends to him with enduring affection. Strength and courage in him were mixed with a humility which was never weakness, and with these went the serene mind and the quiet humor which scattered the clouds and alleviated the hard spots of life. Upon his retirement Judge Ells wrote him: "You have been throughout your splendid career a strong man engaged in a harsh business who yet at all times had a sweetness, a gentleness, a humility that mark you really a great man. You have seen life in all its distressing phases, and yet the evening twilight finds you gentle still."
Judge Curtis' attachment to the profession of the law was strong. He was an active member of the Fairfield County Law Library Committee of three from 1901 until his resignation in 1928, and for the larger part of this period its chairman.
He was president of the Bridgeport Bar Association in 1902-3. By designation of the justices of the Supreme Court he served on the State Board of Pardons for some six years.
Every professional distinction which came to him came solely upon merit.
Judge Curtis was deeply interested in the progress and welfare of his native town of Stratford, serving long upon her Board of Education and as president of the Stratford Library Association until his death. Judge Curtis was a loving husband, an indulgent yet wise father, an outstanding citizen, a friend of friends, a man who lived close to his ideals.
He married on June 8th, 1888, Ellen V. Talbot of Stratford, also of Colonial ancestry, who with two children survive him; a son, John Talbot Curtis, practices law in New York City, a daughter, Mrs. Robert Brown, resides with her husband in Oklahoma. Another son, Howard Wheeler Curtis, graduated from Yale in 1912 and from the Yale Law School in 1915. He served in the World War, attaining the rank of Captain of Infantry. Precarious health, which prevented his service overseas, caused his death in 1920 while a practicing lawyer in Bridgeport.
*Prepared by Hon. George W. Wheeler, of Bridgeport, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 95, page iii
Appointed to Supreme Court February 13th, 1919, to take effect August 8th, 1920.
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