TABLE OF CONTENTS
RG 009:005, Francis A. Pallotti vs. William J. Cox
Inventory of Records
Finding aid prepared by Allen Ramsey.
Copyright © 2010 by the Connecticut State Library
The Francis A. Pallotti vs. William J. Cox case began when Attorney General Francis A. Pallotti was preparing the state's defense against a lawsuit by the M. A. Gammino Construction Company. The M. A. Gammino Construction Company claimed in the suit, permitted by an act of the Connecticut Legislature passed in 1941; it was owed payment as stipulated in the contract from the State of Connecticut for extra work done on two bridges in Ledyard and idle time of their equipment. The various issues inside the Highway Department propelled Governor Hurley to act after Deputy Highway Department Commissioner Frank Upman, Jr. presented before the governor a chart on idle equipment in regard to the Gammino Company case.
Governor Hurley, according to the Hartford Courant, on January 26, 1942 requested two highway department employees report to his office for interviews. The governor interviewed the employees separately "on the shifting of a bridge, referring to the chart on idle equipment, and drawing sketches of engineering details."1 On February 4, 1942, Attorney General Pallotti sent a letter to Governor Hurley outlining information discovered during preparations for the Gammino case. The letter outlined the following facts from the Gammino case: the Highway Commissioner's failure to cooperate with the Attorney General on providing records; that the Highway Department kept no recorded schedule of idle equipment; the schedule for the claim was only created before or after the Highway Department held a conference on the subject; the contractor charged the state idle time for Sundays and holidays; the contractor was being paid for use of equipment on alleged extra work beyond the scope of the contract; failure of the Highway Department to follow the agreement reached with the Federal Bureau of Roads on certain aspects of construction; the mismanagement of overseeing the proper location of bridge piles in supporting the bridge structure; and use of Highway Department labor and materials to complete a contract on work that was not yet accepted and should have been completed by the contractor. The Attorney General also found bidding process procedures were not followed in awarding the contract for the Riverfront Boulevard project in Hartford. Attorney General Pallotti in the letter said, "These facts which I have uncovered in my investigation indicate to me a course of conduct upon the part of the Highway Commissioner and his employees that is most lax and neglectful of the best interests of the State. I feel so strongly about this matter that I feel it my duty, as Attorney General, to apprise you of the situation for whatever action you may see fit to take."2 The information outlined in the letter was only one set of circumstances raising questions about the commissioner's actions.
The second set of circumstances was the friction between the commissioner and deputy commissioner of the Highway Department. Commissioner Cox in a letter to Governor Hurley on December 21, 1941 described the relationship between him and Deputy Commissioner Frank Upman, Jr. Cox said, "I like Mr. Upman. I believe in his sincerity, and I admire many qualities he has. But I do not have confidence in his abilli9ty to work satisfactorily with me. In important ways we do not think alike."3 He concluded the letter asking the governor to change the deputy commissioner or allow him to resign from being commissioner of the Highway Department. Commissioner Cox on February 2, 1942 sent a memorandum to certain Highway Department employees instructing them not to assist or give any further information to Deputy Commissioner Upman.4
The information from the two sets of circumstances led Governor Hurley to suspend Commissioner Cox on February 5, 1942. Hurley in the suspension letter to Cox said, "From various information submitted to me, I have reason to believe that you have been guilty of material neglect of duty or incompetence in the conduct of your office as Highway Commissioner of the State of Connecticut." The letter outlined the charges and statutory authority under section 12e of the 1939 Supplement to the General Statutes that permitted the governor to call for a hearing on February 14. Hurley concluded, "I hereby suspend you as State Highway Commissioner pending my decision on said charges." Frank Upman, Jr. was appointed Acting Commissioner of the Highway Department the same day Cox was suspended.5
Governor Hurley requested Chief Justice William M. Maltbie of the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors assist in developing procedures for the hearings. Chief Justice Maltbie on February 10, 1942 outlined the procedures agreed to between the Attorney General and counsel for Commissioner Cox. The procedures called for the preliminary hearing to be waived, the suspension of the commissioner to continue, the Attorney General under section 13e present charges to the Governor and Commissioner by March 4, 1942, the Commissioner have at least ten days to answer, and then after the Commissioner's answer a date for a hearing on the question of removal from office. On February 11, Hurley agreed to the suggestions and requested the Chief Justice look over the stipulation entered into between the Attorney General and counsel for Cox to ensure its effectiveness. The sides agreed on February 13 to the stipulation of procedure for the hearings. The stipulation also guaranteed Cox would continue to receive pay while on suspension.6
Attorney General Pallotti on March 4, 1942 submitted the statement of charges to Governor Hurley. The statement presented 22 charges against Commissioner Cox "for misconduct, material neglect of duty or incompetence in the conduct of your office as Highway Commissioner."7 Both sides expected to subpoena from 40 to 70 witnesses to testify with the hearings lasting several days on both sides. Chief Justice Maltbie on March 13, 1942 recommended Governor Hurley, due to the expected length of the hearings, deputize a person to hear testimony and report the proven facts. The Governor selected George E. Hinman as state referee to hear the evidence and present a written statement of proven facts. The sides in a supplemental stipulation on March 16 agreed to the state referee.8
The counsel for Commissioner Cox submitted their answer to the charges on March 20, 1942. The hearings before the State Referee George E. Hinman started on March 23 in the Senate Chamber of the State Capitol with Attorney General Pallotti calling his first witness. During the hearings the Attorney General dropped 10 charges.9 The hearings concluded on May 11, 1942. Attorney General Pallotti submitted a written brief to State Referee Hinman on May 18. Counsel for Commissioner Cox submitted a written Respondent's Request for Findings of Fact on May 18, 1942.
State Referee Hinman submitted to Governor Hurley his 43 page statement of proven facts on June 17, 1942. Governor Hurley issued his decision on July 27, 1942. Hurley said, "my close analysis of the testimony and Referee Hinman's finding convinces me there can be no question concerning Commissioner Cox's complete personal honesty and good faith in the conduct of his department. I state this conviction as a conclusion." The Governor, however, in his decision gave notice to the Highway Department Commissioner that past procedures of giving information to one contractor but not others needed to end as a practice. Governor Hurley's decision found Commissioner Cox had not committed misconduct or negligence in his official duties. Governor Hurley revoked the suspension of William J. Cox as Highway Department Commissioner on July 27.10 Frank Upman, Jr. on July 28 resigned as Acting Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Highway Department citing his belief that former practices and procedures would continue under Commissioner Cox.11
1 Robert D. Byrnes, "Says Upman Took Chart to Governor," Hartford Courant, July 30, 1942, p. 1.
2 Attorney General Francis A. Pallotti to Governor Robert A. Hurley, 1942 February 4, box 439, Highway Dept. - (Cox - Special), Office of the Governor: Robert A. Hurley Records, RG 005:028, Connecticut State Library.
3 Highway Department Commissioner William J. Cox to Governor Robert A. Hurley, 1941 December 21, box 439, Highway Dept. - (Cox - Special), Office of the Governor: Robert A. Hurley Records, RG 005:028, Connecticut State Library.
4 Highway Department Commissioner William J. Cox to A. M. Walters, 1942 February 2, box 439, Highway Dept. - (Cox - Special), Office of the Governor: Robert A. Hurley Records, RG 005:028, Connecticut State Library.
5 Governor Robert A. Hurley to Highway Department Commissioner William J. Cox, 1942 February 5, box 439, Highway Dept. - (Cox - Special), Office of the Governor: Robert A. Hurley Records, RG 005:028, Connecticut State Library.
6 Chief Justice William M. Maltbie to Governor Robert A. Hurley, 1942 February 10-11, box 439, Highway Dept. - (Cox - Special), Office of the Governor: Robert A. Hurley Records, RG 005:028, Connecticut State Library.
7 box 1, Volume 1, Office of the Governor: Robert A. Hurley Records, RG 005:028, Connecticut State Library.
8 box 439, Highway Dept. - (Cox - Special), Office of the Governor: Robert A. Hurley Records, RG 005:028, Connecticut State Library.
9 Robert D. Byrnes, "Hurley Reinstates Cox as State Highway Head Upman Resignation Seen," Hartford Courant, July 29, 1942, p. 1.
10 Governor Robert A. Hurley to Secretary of State Chase Going Woodhouse, 1942 July 27, box 439, Highway Dept. - (Cox - Special), Office of the Governor: Robert A. Hurley Records, RG 005:028, Connecticut State Library.
11 Acting Highway Department Commissioner Frank Upman, Jr. to Governor Robert A. Hurley, 1942 July 28, box 439, Highway Dept. - (Cox - Special), Office of the Governor: Robert A. Hurley Records, RG 005:028, Connecticut State Library.
The records consist of five volumes of transcripts of witness testimony. The transcripts provide a written record of each day's oral testimony before State Referee George E. Hinman. The records are missing Volume VI and VII. A complete set of transcripts of witness testimony along with legal documents from the case can be found in RG 005:028, Office of the Governor: Robert A. Hurley Records
The records are arranged in order by volume number.
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RG 005:028, Office of the Governor: Robert A. Hurley Records, Connecticut State Library.
Connecticut. Office of the Attorney General
Connecticut. Office of the Governor
Connecticut. State Highway Dept.
Berry, Joseph F.
Corkey, Richard F.
Cox, William J.
Gross, Charles W.
Hinman, George Elijah, 1870-1961
Hurley, Robert A. (Robert Augustine), 1895-1968
Maltbie, William Mills, 1880-1961
Pallotti, Francis P.
Upman, Frank, Jr.
Allen Ramsey processed the records in September 2010
Hartford Courant, 1942.